Green Wok, Essaouira

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Green Wok, Essaouira

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Review of "Green Wok, Essaouira"

published 08/04/2015 | koshkha
Member since : 26/12/2005
Reviews : 1434
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Seems it takes a lot to get many reads these days so be assured that all are appreciated.
Super
Pro Great food for spice lovers
Cons Closed on Mondays
exceptional

"Red Curry Green Wok"

Food for Thought

I adore Morocco and have just returned from my fifth or sixth holiday there - I’m a bit hazy on the maths. I’ve been all over and it’s a fabulous country. The scenery is spectacular offering everything from rocky coastlines to impressive mountains and even sand seas. The people are lovely, the history is awesome and the weather makes a fantastic change from the UK. The one thing I can’t claim is fabulous is the food.

Many people do love it but I’m a fishitarian and I’ve always found Moroccan food to be rather an ordeal. Far too much ‘vegetarian’ couscous and tagine is just the regular meaty stuff with the bigger pieces of dead critters picked out before it’s served. Essaouira (where we just spent six days) does have more fish than most of the country but a lot of the less upmarket fishy dishes tend to be a lot of deadly bones and a challenge to get the flesh off without choking. That’s always particularly fun if you’re eating by candlelight. Why all of this preamble? Because I’m not feeling the slightest apologetic that a lot of my meals on my most recent trip to Essaouira were not what you might call ‘traditional local cuisine’. A prime example of that is the two meals we had at Essaouira’s only Thai restaurant - a little place called Green Wok which can be found on the winding streets that join the Place d’Horloge and the Place Moulay Hassan.

First Visit

We arrived in Essaouira late on Saturday night after a two and a half hour drive from Marrakech airport. We were too late to go out and eat on Saturday so on Sunday lunchtime, we were looking forward to our first holiday restaurant. I spotted Green Wok, checked out the menu and realised it was probably going to be the only place in the town to get something really spicy before we eased into more local fare. The place looked spotlessly clean, had a completely open kitchen and was empty. I know some people run a mile from an empty restaurant but I always feel sorry for the staff and if the menu looks good, I’ll give it a go. It was past two o’clock and we were quite late to be looking for lunch.

The restaurant is mostly painted white inside although its facebook page suggests it used to be a rather lurid lime green. I would say the decision to redecorate was a good one. There are not a large number of tables as the restaurant is more like a corridor than a room and most of the tables are just for two people. The seating is stools rather than chairs which makes it a bit less comfortable than a more conventional arrangements. They have a television set which is usually playing a European news channel. Some will hate that - I can only suggest they sit out of view if they don’t like it. This is a city where most of the small riads don’t have televisions in their rooms so many won’t mind a chance to catch up on what’s happening in the world whilst they wait for their food.

The menu has a variety of hot and cold starters - many of them spring-roll type nibbles and there are three types of soup on offer. For the main courses, there are dishes with the usual meats as well as seafood or vegetarian options including noodle dishes, rice dishes and Thai curries. Drinks are all non-alcoholic. They also have some set deals which offer a starter, main and drink or starter, main and pudding at very good prices but none of the combinations appealed to us. This may well be the only place in Essaouira that won’t give you bread and olives whilst you wait for what you’ve ordered.

On our first visit I ordered the seafood red curry and when the waiter raised his eyebrows and said “You want spicy?” I nodded encouragingly. Moroccan dishes use a lot of spices but they really aren’t very hot or intense ones so I was impressed that he checked I knew what I was doing. My husband ordered a noodle dish with shrimps. We also ordered a bottle of water.

Everything was cooked from scratch so service wasn’t particularly quick but it was good to know it wasn’t just constructed from stuff in the fridge shoved in a microwave. My husband’s noodles seemed a bit bland to me but he liked them well enough. Of course tasted after a plate of pretty scorching red Thai curry, it wasn’t surprising that it seemed to lack much punch. My portion comprised a large mound of rice and an equally large bowl of curry. The seafood mix was a good blend of small prawns, squid and a bit of fish and was combined with chunks of what I thought was probably pineapple. The runny red curry sauce was excellent and I polished off the whole rather large portion.

The bill came to just under 200 Dirhams for the two of us (currently it’s around 14 Dirhams to the pound) which was a bit more than I’d been expecting but not outrageously so.

On the beach

We left the restaurant and headed off to take a walk on the beach. About an hour and a half later when we’d walked a long way down the beach and what felt like an even longer way back (it was VERY windy) we were heading back to the town when a young man on a bicycle started pestering us. There are a lot of guys trying to sell cheap jewellery and sunglasses but they usually go away pretty quickly. This guy just wouldn’t leave us alone. We thought he was trying to get us to go to his restaurant and no matter how many times we told him we weren’t interested, he wouldn’t give up. I told him we’d already eaten and then the penny dropped . Yes, he knew we’d eaten. We’d eaten in his kitchen.

How astonishingly embarrassing. It was the chef from the Green Wok. Our ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitudes had nearly made us incredibly rude to the poor guy.

He explained that he’d charged us too much. He went into a really complicated story about what the people at the other table had ordered and how he’d got the two bills confused. Would we go back to the restaurant with him and he’d give us our change? We told him it was fine and that we appreciated his honesty, and that I’d thought it was a bit more than I’d totted up in my mind but it was OK. If we popped back in the week he could give us the money but not to worry. He was on his way home and we didn’t want to turn him around and go back to the restaurant over a few pounds. We were just really impressed that he’d come looking for us, that he’d actually found us, and that he’d been so tenacious that he’d refused to stop nagging until we understood what had happened.

Our last night

We had good and bad food during our week served in nice and not so nice restaurants and when it came to choosing our venue for the ‘Last Supper’ it wasn’t hard - we wanted to go back to Green Wok. We’d had enough of complex set menus and dodgy fish dishes and the Green Wok had been a bit of a ‘stand out’ restaurant from the week. We also thought it would be nice to go back and see the chef and show him how much we’d liked his food.

Considering that very few people who go to Essaouira stay more than a couple of days we assumed that he would have thought we were long gone by day 6 of our trip. We walked in, got a massive smile and within a few minutes, he’d appeared with the two bills from 5 days earlier to explain he owed us 32 dirhams and to offer us some free spring rolls to say ‘sorry’. We told him it really wasn’t necessary and we’d come back because the food was so good and not to get our change. We also apologised again for how rude we’d been and thanked him for coming to find us that day.

We were quite hungry so we ordered Thai veg soups to start and two portions of the amazing red curry with seafood and a couple of diet cokes. The waiter asked if we’d like our spring rolls with chicken (I asked if we could have veg instead) and if we’d like them fried or not. We opted for unfried and I have to admit they were rather ‘odd’ but quite tasty, especially with the very Moroccan touch of a mint leaf inside each piece.

Our soups were very tasty though not recognisably very Thai in style but we enjoyed them none the less. The main course seafood red curry was even better second time around than it had been the first time we visited although the portions were quite a challenge to get through after a soup starter.

When the bill came, the chef came over with the 32 Dirhams from the previous visit and the bill and insisted we take our over-payment from the previous time. We insisted on leaving it as a tip for our second meal. I believe the total came to around 230 dirhams this time with soups and drinks included.

Recommendation


If you are only in Essaouira for a couple of nights, and if you’re not jaded from too many tagines and too much couscous, then by all means stick to the local fare. But if you’re there a bit longer, you’ve overdosed on harira soup and olives and you want something with a bit of kick that’s cooked in a spotless kitchen by a man so honest he’ll chase you on his bicycle to explain that he overcharged you, then Green Wok is a very special place. The staff are lovely, the food is excellent and cooked fresh. We loved it - you may well do too.

Closed on Mondays.

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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 04/05/2015
    e :o)
  • AlexDa published 20/04/2015
    very interesting
  • hiker published 19/04/2015
    Excellent review - and good to know such people are still around and working in catering!
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Product Information : Green Wok, Essaouira

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Listed on Ciao since: 30/03/2015