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The Road to Morocco Begins at Westwood Blvd

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I think we can all agree that food does much more for the body than fill it with nutrients; food can nourish the soul, thrill the senses, and sometimes transport us to faraway lands faster than a Concord jet. Koutoubia, a little Moroccan restaurant in West L.A., serves food that does just that. You could drive by this place for years, as I have, and never take much notice to the small, slightly embellished, structure. But once you walk through the restaurant’s front doors, you will be instantly beamed to Morocco where exotic sights, sounds, smells and tastes await!

The restaurant is decorated with lush Moroccan fabrics from wall to wall, and a combination of crystal and Moroccan chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The lighting is dim, moody and romantic and the restaurant smells of delicate spices and incense. You will be seated on low banquettes piled with pillows. The round, brassy, inlaid tables are also low to the ground. In the background, the lovely sounds of Moroccan folk music play.

After you’ve been seated, a waiter—of which there are few—will come over and discuss the menu with you. You can choose between ordering dishes a la carte or getting the prix fix seven course traditional Moroccan meal (about $40 per person). Personally, I don’t eat everything on the prix fix menu, so I usually order a la carte. If you’re dining with one or two other people it might be better to go the a la carte route, and split a few dishes so you can sample the many flavors and dishes. But if you’re with a large group, it’s probably easiest, tastiest and cheapest to go with the set menu.

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While the whole menu is tantalizing, there are several dishes that should not be missed. I love to start with their lentil soup, which is thick and chock full of rice, lentils and chickpeas. It has a delicate flavor with subtle notes of cumin and turmeric.