Asha: A New Moroccan finds Downtown Long Beach
2012-03-23 · By Chandra Clewley
There is a new Mediterranean in town, Asha, and this time it’s in the Downtown Area! Long Beach loves Mediterranean food in a way that is difficult to find in most LA cities. There is a vast array of these restaurants to pick from, and it is always fun when one comes to the area. What separates this newcomer, is that it is Moroccan in slant as compared with the Lebanese restaurants that seem to have anchored the genre, locally.
One of the great things about Asha is that it is located in a gorgeously renovated building on Broadway and Linden, connected to The Green House. It is exciting when new restaurants open up downtown because the area is so unique and urban, it deserves some great staple eateries! We were greeted by a friendly hostess who gave us our choice of tables. I immediately noticed the framed art on one wall, all black and white photography with traditionally Moroccan images, the lacquer chairs, silk banners hung from the ceiling, along with contemporary large statement chandelier type lighting and a unique booth and table seating area. The design aesthetic is contemporary, clean and modern.
Our server recommended we try Asha’s Tajeens which are a staple of the Moroccan diet. A Tajeen is much like a slow cooked stew. We ordered the Chicken with Potatoes and Olives. In addition, we ordered the Filet Mignon Kabob that came with basmati rice and a traditional salad. You actually get a choice of three different salads, and we decided to go with the traditional, which is called the Asha salad here, but I have seen it referred to as a village or peasant salad before. We also ordered the Cauliflower from the Appetizer list.
The first thing our server brought to our table as Labni which is a kefir cheese dip, pooled with olive oil. On either side of the cheese, in separate compartments were pita chip strips and pickles. The labni was rich and velvety in texture and very mild. Then came our cauliflower which is flash fried, seasoned and served with Tahini sauce and pine nuts. It was all kinds of delicious and I would highly recommend it. Our main entrees followed, the Tajeen was served in….well, a Tajeen, or Tagine, depending on how you like to spell it. This is a bowl on the bottom and a tall, cone shaped lid on top. I was struck with how tender and perfect the chicken was prepared. For the price, it was a large portion too. The potatoes were soft and the olives were strong in flavor. It was served with a choice of rice or cous cous on the side, and since we were doing Morocco, we had opted for the cous cous. It was light, fluffy with just a hint of butter to pump up the taste. The Filet Mignon on the kabob was charbroiled perfectly, and had the lovely seasoning we have come to expect of Mediterranean foods. The Asha salad, which was a mix of fresh cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro and lemon juice was clean and light and accompanied the filet mignon well.
There are a ton more things on the menu to try, including Chicken Tawook and Shawarma, sandwiches and delicious sounding desserts! Our service was great, and while we were eating, the first floor filled up, so it seems that word of mouth is succeeding at Asha! The restaurant does not have their wine or liquor license yet, but around the corner at District Wine, they sell wine by the bottle at reasonable prices and have a great selection. On a hot date night, stop at District Wine first and then head over to Asha for great service and yummy Moroccan food! There is no corkage fee.
Asha is located at 149 Linden Ave in Suite E. You can reach them at (562)628-2255, and they are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.