TUNISIAN KOSHER FOOD IN LOS ANGELES AT HARISSA NORTH AFRICAN CUISINE WORTH SEEKING OUT
Los Angeles (Perfect Meal Today) 8/8/18—I have found a new favorite place to hang out for an outstanding meal and the place is called Harissa serving Kosher Tunisian cuisine. There is also a strong Moroccan influence in the menu along with plenty of references to American and/or Israeli food. Chef/owner is Alain Cohen and a recent rebranding of the small restaurant has started to create a bit of a buzz amongst the locals as well as the very vibrant Jewish community in the area.
Décor wise the place looks pretty ordinary from the outside with dining tables on the small patio, and inside the wooden tables complement the minimalist environment with a few French Art Noveau prints on the wall. One of them of course features the French heartthrob Alain Delon.
Cohen himself hails from Paris where his family had a very popular Tunisian restaurant, and he is one of the small percentage of Tunisian men who loves to cook. In that fascinating country they normally leave all the cooking to the women.
When it comes to the well thought out menu there are plenty of the staples like burgers, chicken dishes and steaks to choose from but I would like to focus on the North African specialties of the house. By that I mean the Cous Cous Feast which either comes in a bowl or a plate. Tunisian Couscous is slightly different from the Algerian or Moroccan version, and at Harissa you have a choice of chicken meatball or kebab, beef meatball or kebab or the lamb kefta kebab.
All these are priced between $12.99-20.99 which includes the mildly spiced broth and the vegetables. If you are in the mood for something special then splurge out on the Couscous Royal ($29.99) which includes all the meats and chicken plus a Merguez sausage. Getting back to the appetizers, you might want to try the traditional Bastilla, a dish that should be made out of pigeon, but for American purposes they use traditional Moroccan chicken. This wonderful example of North African cuisine is just like a pie with almond pastry, and at $11.99 it is a steal and is usually good for four people.
Traditional Tajines are also available and of course served with couscous And what really looks good is the Short Rib Beef Bourguignon ($26.99) and the Lamb Stew with prunes and roasted almonds for $29.99. Lots of reasonably priced sides to go with every meal here, and of course a word about the burgers. The Hariisa Spiced Burger ($16.99) comes on a whole wheat pretzel bun with lettuce, roasted tomatoes, balsamic glazed red onions and hariisa mayo. How about Alain’s Tunisian Tuna Sandwich which is adorned with all kinds of good stuff and sides.
Harissa-8914 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
Open 6 days lunch/dinner. Closed Saturday
“Harissa” Restaurant and Events New Name Honors Owner-Chef Alain Cohen’s French-Tunisian Heritage Got Kosher? Bakery, Commissary Name Remains the Same
(Pico-Robertson, March 16, 2018) Chef-owner Alain Cohen’s newly named HARISSA RESTAURANT AND CATERING COMPANY will expand its California-inspired French-Tunisian cuisine menu of the former “fGot Kosher? Café and Catering Company.” HARISSA will also now serve the finest wines and beers.
The “Got Kosher? name has been identified with innovator Cohen’s renowned original pretzel and flavored challahs. The Bakery and Commissary will retain the same name and space. Cohen also remains the creative force behind the hefty, made-to-order gourmet sandwiches with authentic ingredients with distribution to local and international distribution, inspired by his stint with master Nancy Silverton at La Brea Bakery.
Born in Tunisia and raised in Paris, France Alain worked in his father’s kosher Tunisian restaurant, Les Ailes (The Wings) since the age of nine. Success as an innovator came early to him as a teen-ager when Cohen introduced a French-Tunisian fusion menu that turned Les Ailes into an overnight sensation. The Grillades section, now with a health-conscious American flair, marks the very refined Parisian dishes that helped make Les Ailes into a Paris landmark. Harissa’s specialty dishes features unusual and regal couscous plates, including a rare wedding feast version.
HARISSA Restaurant’s new expanded menu still features signature California- inspired salad, and entrée favorites reflecting the vibrant Sephardic heritage of Cohen’s homelands, and is still California inspired.
Harissa punctuates the signature Tunisian Tuna Sandwich, several appetizers, the Couscous feasts, the Harissa-spiced Burger and the Grillades.
Harissa, in its original and purest form is a red pepper sauce made up of red chili peppers, garlic and salt. It is flavored with coriander, cumin, caraway, and combined with tomatoes as needed in the cooking. “But Cohen’s family recipe harissa is the standard by which all other blends are measured”, according to a Bon Appetit magazine staffer. The emphasis is not on the spiciness but on the balance. The motto at HARISSA, remains, “only as hot as you like it” for customers.
Seasonal ingredient Prix fixe menus and special dinners featuring beers and meshuval wines will be featured as part of the opening celebration.
The hot red pepper sauce made of red chili peppers and garlic, is flavored with coriander, cumin, olive oil and often tomatoes. And almost all of these found in the iconic Tunisian Sandwich. At Harissa Restaurant, harissa is only as spicy as a customer likes it. However, the heat is considered differently in Tunisia where it originated. “Spicy,” in fact, is so valued in Tunisia that an old wife’s tale that says a husband can judge his wife’s affections by the amount of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food
Historically, the distinctive spicy fieriness is influence of neighboring Mediterranean countries, many of whom ruled Tunisia one time. The list is impressive: Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Turkish, French, and the native Berber people. And, of course, out of this nomadic lineage came the ingenious conical- lidded pot, the tagine.
Most importantly, in Tunisia, we consider the version from Tunis to be the absolute standard for all others. The one from Tunis is pure and with no spice. it is “the mother tincture, the essence of Harissa,” to which the other have added variations.
Each city in Tunisia became well known for their individual versions, made by adding a different spice to the sauce on a base of cumin, coriander, caraway and so on. For example we have the harissa of Sfax, the one from Nabeul, the one for Gbes,
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211