As you might expect, there aren’t myriad Moroccan restaurants in Honolulu. One of the few is Kan Zaman (which means “Once Upon a Time” in Arabic), located in the heart of downtown. My dad took Kiyo and I out there for dinner right after we moved back to Hawaii about a year ago, and I recently met Kiyo there for lunch. You can sit outside, in the back, and throughout the small restaurant the decor is simple yet perfect. It’s very simple and charming, and you can tell it’s Moroccan, but it isn’t excessive in any way.
The first meal we began with the mezza sampler, which was fabulous. It included (left to right): baba ganoush, warak inab (Lebanese stuffed grape leaves), hummus and taktouka (a Moroccan cooked tomato and green pepper salad). Served with pita bread, this was the perfect starter to share and whet the appetite.
My second-favorite item was another that we all shared (we shared everything we ordered, which isn’t necessarily what’s intended at the restaurant, but it’s possible and quite easy). Not only does the house-pulled mozzarella with za’atar look beautiful, but it’s fun to eat! Also served with pita, as well as “vine-ripened” tomatoes, which were a little lackluster. I’ve never seen mozzarella like this, and I am a fan (but to be fair, I am a fan of pretty much any and all cheeses).
We shared two entrees. The first was merguez sausage served over (not much) couscous and steamed carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, potato, chickpeas, onion, tomato and zucchini (I felt like they skimped a bit in serving our portion. Do you see all those vegetables there? I certainly don’t remember tasting pumpkin). The sausage was plentiful and was good, but not the best I’ve had.
This looks like a plate of just french fries, but actually, it was our second entrée: chicken tajine. Braised with coriander, smoked paprika, cumin, lemon, saffron and olives, it was indeed topped with fries. These were extra tasty since they soaked up the juices from the chicken. It wasn’t the prettiest dish (I especially am wary of all-brownish plates) but it was good. The flavors didn’t pop as much as you might expect, but they were married nicely.