Menara Moroccan Restaurant
41 East Gish Road
San Jose, California 95112
Moroccan restaurants usually have "set" menus of 4 or 5 kinds and there is not too much burden of choice for the diner. V and I ofcourse went for the "vegetarian" set menu at Menara and were pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out to be.
Menara is located pretty close to downtown San Jose on a somewhat unassuming street with nothing else of interest nearby. From the huge double doors we could not imagine what it would be like inside. Turned out to be a cavernous entry hall with a fountain in the middle and a bar at one end. Inside, there was a main room and two side rooms. We got one of the side rooms all to ourselves since it was weekday. In the main room there was a huge party of more than 10 people who seemed to be having fun. They got especially rowdy when the belly dancer came out! Thankfully the belly dancing and the loud music did not last for more than 30 minutes (I am guessing). V and I preferred the quiet and I have never been a huge fan of this belly dancing business in Middle Eastern restaurants (what's up with that?!).
We got 5 courses, nicely spaced, giving us just enough time to really relish the items. We also got to just sit and talk. Since we were going to eat everything with our fingers, our waiter first brought us a basin and some water to wash our hands with. Our cups of hot mint tea were kept constantly filled to the brim. In short, service was excellent.
Our first course was a spicy dip which came with French bread. After this, suddenly the gears were switched on us and we were served a semi-sweet "pastry" with powdered sugar on top, kind of like a beignet. Then we got potato dumplings with a tomato sauce. The main course was couscous with vegetables on top, served with a chickpea stew. Our dessert was two delicious pieces of baklava, served with hot cups of mint tea. This is probably the best baklava we have had in a while; just perfect, and not dripping with sweet.
The vegetarian set menu is $22 per person, and it is well worth the experience!