Pastilla Café – The Notable Moroccan Cuisine
(Update Oct 15: Sad to announce the closure of the café. In our heart, we wish Mr. Said will return one of the days and be successful)
As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. In this case, this was literally what led to the opening of Pastilla Café. The Head Chef and café owner – Mr. Said Ibrahim, used to work for a restaurant in a hotel, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the restaurant had to be closed down. A strong believer of his culinary skills in his native Moroccan cuisine, driven by his passion and hard work, he decided to venture out on his own and that was when Pastilla Café was born – a café serving great Moroccan cuisine.
The décor of the café was humble and simple, decorated with Moroccan ornaments to create a Middle Eastern ambience, the warmth and homely setting sets one at ease.
This was our first experience with Moroccan cuisine and all of us had lots of curiosity about the food we were going to be eating.
Evening in Marrakesh ($5.90)
A beautiful name for a beautiful drink, Evening in Marrakesh was a refreshing drink with lemonade, mint and orange blossom water. I was initially feeling a little sleepy after a long day studying, but the drink seemed to have rejuvenating powers – it instantly freshened up my mind!
Cyprus Nite ($5.90)
Can’t really imagine how a Cyprus night will look or feel like, but the drink was definitely pleasant – made from blackberry syrup with fresh lemon juice and a bit of honey, it was both enjoyably sweet and sour.
With Arabic spices and condensed milk to create this interesting blend of flavours, a bit on the sweet side but was smooth and flavourful.
Moroccan Salad Medley (3-in-1) ($8.90)
We were served the beetroot salad, potato salad and the eggplant salad. From our understanding from Said, Moroccans like veggies and you will find some form of veggies practically in every Moroccan dish. The salad was a real good starter to get our appetite going.
Hummus (light coloured) ($5.60)
First time eating Hummus, we were not too sure what to expect. This is a popular Middle Eastern dip that is used as an appetizer and served with pita or flat bread. It is made with chickpeas purée with sesame paste, garlic olive oil, lemon juice and spices. Dipping the flatbread in, it did taste pretty good!
Mohammara (dark coloured) ($6.50)
A popular meze made from breadcrumbs, walnuts, roasted pepper, walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Mohammara is a delicious spicy sweet dip or spread usually served with pita or flat bread, The Mohammara was slightly stronger in taste as compared to the Hummus, however it was equally tasty and nice.
Traditional Harira Soup ($6.00)
Harira is a popular Morocco’s tomato, chickpeas, parsley and lentil soup. It’s fragrantly seasoned with ginger, pepper, and cinnamon, and also boasts a robust quantity of fresh herbs. This soup is traditionally served with a long wooden spoon – or a mini ladle we should say. We found it to be a light soup that was somewhat lacking in flavour.
Greek style baked prawns with chilli; garlic, fresh tomato and feta cheese, it was a little like curry. The feta cheese brought about a very nice blend of flavours that was not only interesting, but great tasting too. The garlic was fried till brown to give it that edge with the prawns to make a truly succulent dish that we highly recommend.
Grilled Merguez Sausage
A North-African lamb sausage flavoured with the spicy pepper spread harissa. Very authentic and fragrant, you can fully enjoy the genuine quality ingredients in the small sausages, a big thumb up!
Every main is served with homemade bread or a serving of saffron rice. The bread is something to rave for; freshly made daily, the loaf was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, besides the almost perfect texture, the fragrance of the bread was simply irresistible and we got to admit this is one of the best bread we have tried so far. The bread is a perfect match for the mains that come with sauces.
As for the rice, it was nicely seasoned and soft, having gone through a double steaming process. His attention to detail really shone through in the incredible-tasting food.
Roasted chicken (half) ($9.90)
Roast to a perfection, the chicken retained its tenderness and the meat just falls off the bones without any effort. The well marinated bird was flavourful and the accompanying sauce was great – we just wish we could have more to go with it!
Couscous Royale ($25.90)
Couscous royale is a North African dish made of Durum wheat semolina steamed over boiling stewed chicken and lamb, seasonal vegetables (radish, pumpkin, carrot, pepper), chickpeas, grilled Merguez and Moroccan spices. This is what we would call mixed vegetable rice, but an extremely grand one. In the pile of veggies, you will find various vegetables in this dish e.g. radish, pumpkin, cauliflower, right beneath the veggies, it hides a piece of chicken and lamb meat, both the chicken and the lamb were just as tender and the seasoning was perfect. The dish may cost a bit more but the serving is really huge and sufficient for two or more.
Lamb Tajine ($18.90) & Lamb Prune Tajine ($21.90)
We also learnt today from the chef the difference between lamb and mutton. Mutton is actually meat from the older or matured sheep, mutton is usually tougher, while meats from the young lambs are softer and tender. This is the reason behind why every single one of their lamb dishes are so succulent!
Lamb Tajine is a traditional Moroccan dish simmered in numerous spices. This is the savoury version while the lamb prune Tajine was sweetened by the prune, both were equally lovely.
Oum Ali ($6.00)
This is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert that combines the creaminess of bread butter pudding with cinnamon, nuts and dried fruits stuffing. The bread pudding was of the right sweetness, it wasn’t too cloying and yet it was just toothsome. One of the rare bread puddings we have eaten!
Atay Wal Halawiyat ($10.80)
Making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and is a common ritual with friends and family.
Moroccan mint tea with petite Arabic sweets. Handmade sweets by the chef, although it was an assortment, every single cookie surprisingly went extremely well with the mint tea served in the Middle Eastern pewter tea pot, perfect for snacking during tea time with friends over a chat!
This is a Middle Eastern version of cheese Danish, a combination of the kataifi dough, cheese and milk etc to create this heavenly Middle Eastern Mediterranean pastry.
The pastry was made of gooey sweet cheese sandwiched between layers of shredded Kunafa, little charred on the kataifi dough gave the extra crisp and with the right sweetness and savory taste from the cheese, it was a simply divine with the ecstasy bite through the crust.
Chef Said Ibrahimi has truly demonstrated his oeuvre through Cafe Pastilla, the splendidly refined Moroccan cuisine served there speaks volumes of his passion about cooking; every dish served was meticulously prepared and has tremendous depth in it.
Our verdict, if you are hesitating about Moroccan cuisine, we are pretty sure Chef Said from Pastilla Café will change your view completely. For the Glutton family, this is our first time tasting Moroccan delicacies and we are certain it is definitely not going to be the last time.
An invited review by Pastilla Café.
Address: 334 Changi Road, S419808
Operating Hours: Tues-Fri 5pm-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 5pm – 11.30pm, Closed on Mondays