Add bisteeya and belly dancing to the international buffet served up in the Kentlands Market Square in Gaithersburg.
Pasha Lounge, which opened in late July, is the third area Moroccan restaurant to come from Abdelhak Abdelmoumen. His past ventures were Taste of Morocco in Silver Spring, which he sold last fall, and the original Taste of Morocco in Arlington, sold five months ago. To avoid confusion with businesses he no longer controls, Abdelmoumen says, he came up with a fresh title for his latest project. He also enlisted his wife, Imane, to head the kitchen.
She's making many of the usual Moroccan suspects, from lentil soup to meat- or vegetable-decorated couscous to that sugar-dusted, phyllo-wrapped bisteeya with a choice of three fillings. Lamb is one of the more satisfying paths here; my vote goes to an entree of tender bites of the meat mixed with soft, sweet prunes. Unlike at Abdelmoumen's earlier restaurants, Pasha Lounge serves kebabs; these have been marinated in cumin, garlic and olive oil. It all comes in a pretty package of blue-and-white-tile walls, low couches and chandeliers imported from Morocco.
Evenings are punctuated by one of eight featured belly dancers. The performers sway and wiggle through the dining room beginning about 7 on weeknights and 8:30 on weekends.
The entertainment raised a question at my table, where the wallets opened up after our vivacious dancer seemed to shimmy on air (and despite the fact that she made me her sidekick when she draped my head in her green veil): How best to thank the talent?
Abdelmoumen asked each of the dancers to bring in her own colorful basket, which sits on the bar during every performance. "It's against the law to touch the belly dancer," the owner says. Besides, "this is a family restaurant."
-- Tom Sietsema (First Bite, Sept. 10, 2008)