Dining under a nomadic tent at
La Khaïma, which means “the tent” in Arabic, is a restaurant which serves a cuisine that is relatively unknown to the general public; that of the Tuareg, the nomadic people of western Africa. The owners, native of Mauritania, allow montrealers to have a unique experience as they discover this wonderful cuisine all the way from the Sahara desert.
Venue and Service
Located in the vibrant Mile-End neighborhood in Montreal, La Khaïma is a must try for all of those who wish to experiment the hospitality of the nomads of the Sahara. We were enchanted by the tempting scent coming from the kitchen when we entered the restaurant: hot, spicy and full of unique flavors from the Berber culture, absolutely mouth-watering. With the decor, we are literally transported in the desert of Mauritania: the ceiling is covered with richly colored and tense fabrics exactly as in a tent.
You shall not be invited to sit at a regular table, instead the venue is divided into little lounges with small coffee tables and sofas. The ground is also covered with fabrics and you will be required to take your shoes off. For those of you who prefer a more standard experience, a few tables are available in the second dining area. The convivial atmosphere that reigns at La Khaima is also shared by the very diligent staff. Advice: you should make a reservation in order to avoid any line-up. Side note: This restaurant is perfect for a family diner.
Surprise; there is no menu per say! Or rather you shall not receive a material copy of it. Indeed, the dishes offered change every day according to the inspiration of the lead chef.
Generally, you can find at La Khaima the typical dishes of the Nomad people: Tajines (meat stews), couscous, rice accompanied with meat or poultry. Good news for our friends who do not eat pork, the restaurant is halal and has vegetarians and gluten-free options!
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Every evening, a table d’hôte is offered for $25, with starter, meal and dessert. If you have a big group do not hesitate to ask to have your main courses served together in a big platter to be shared! There is nothing more convivial than to share one big platter. If you are not in the mood for a large diner then you can have the main course with starters or dessert ($20) or just the main meal for $15. The drinks offered are tea and bissap (hibiscus flower) will delight your taste buds.
As a starter, we all tasted the lentil soup with ginger, accompanied with flat pita bread and hummus.
For the main course, we treated ourselves and tasted the three dishes offered that evening. The first dish is a tajine stew with chicken, lemon and ginger accompanied with couscous. The second dish is made of meat balls stuffed with dates in a tomato sauce with gumbos (also called okras). The third dish is a vegetarian couscous. We share the whole in the same platter just like we do back home.
For dessert we had almond cake and a chocolate accompanied with a sweet mint tea.
We also received fresh bissap on the house and it was refreshing and delicious. The bissap was infused with mint and was not too sweet, contrary to many of the other places, and with ice cubes the result is perfect, it would have been a great summer refreshment.
MA: I am overwhelmed with joy as all the things I love the most about food are presented before me in this platter; meat, spices with amazing scent and a warm meal. The lentil soup was delicious and appropriate for this autumn evening out. As for the main course, I am simply delighted! I must confess that I do not like dates! However when I tasted the meatballs stuffed with dates I had to give in. It was unique and delicious, for someone who likes all things sweet and sour it was magnificent. However, my crush was the chicken tajine. The lemon and the ginger were spicy and perfumed, and the chicken was soft and complimented the couscous. The whole meal with the lemon and the ginger gives you one astonishing result. I could eat this every day.
AF: The lentil soup is very good and seasoned well (don’t forget to stir!!). The three courses were very good and delicious but since I am not a vegetarian, I preferred the chicken Tajine. The meatballs were good, I found that the dates blended in well but in my opinion it is not as good as the tajine. The mint tea (sweetened) – I give it a 100 %!!!!!
FN: My crush was definitively the chicken Tajine!! It was really delicious, spices were perfectly measured, a delight with this couscous! Not being a huge fan of the sweet and salty mix, I expected not to like the stuffed meatballs, but far from there!!! It was very good! The soup was delicious and appropriate for this particularly cold and rainy evening! The bissap was the icing on the cake! He was fresh and sweetened to the perfection!
OD: I am not a fan of lentils but this soup is exactly what you need to warm up your soul this winter. It is light and seasoned, with a small piece of bread it’s a match made in heaven. To begin, I adore the fact that we all ate in the same platter as is it custom in various African countries. The advantage is that we can taste EVERYTHING, I went around the platter and I am amazed by this meal. The meatballs stuffed with dates are definitely my favourite; the sauce which it goes with is soft and spicy, and the meatballs were magnificent. Amateurs of sweet and sour stand up, this is for you.
Vos Coeurs Gourmands
Website : http://www.lakhaima.ca/?lang=en/
Address : 142 Avenue Fairmount O