A sign-less cavern on a well traversed block in the East Village, Chouchou brings to life the dual aesthetic of a Bedouin tent and a Renaissance dungeon feast. Mood lighting and rustic décor, paired with authentically crafted flatware and serving utensils make Chouchou a sexy, exotic way to break out of your current winter dining rut.
The menu is simple: do you prefer the delights hidden within a conical tagine, or grilled meats with a side of the most beautiful couscous you’ve ever seen? (As a reminder, this is not something made from a box with the words Near East written on it.) The shape of the tagine allows the meat to retain its moisture while absorbing the extraordinary amounts of flavor emanating from the spices the meat is prepared with. My favorite, the lamb with prunes and apricots, was exceptionally tender, and dotted with thinly sliced roasted almonds. The nuttiness and the fruit really balanced out the gaminess of the lamb, making it a very well-rounded dish.
The bone-in half chicken tagine was also quite good, prepared in more of an Iberian style. Bulbous green olives and bright lemon livened up the bird’s crisp skin and moist meat, and was definitely the more savory of the two tagines.
The cost of each entrée also includes a selection of appetizers for the table, each one better than the last. Thick, creamy baba ganoush is so rich I couldn’t believe there was no actual dairy in it. Acidic and spicy, the egg-less shakshuka is something I could eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner on a regular basis. And chouchou’s hummus makes anything store bought pale in comparison. Thankfully, warm folds of triangle shaped pita are plentiful, enabling you to scrape up every last bit of dip in the beautifully painted serving bowls.
Chouchou, which is a term of endearment in Morocco, would make a great choice for a date night for either an older or newer couple, a double date, or even a get-out-of-your-comfort-zone place to catch up with friends.
Note: I was invited to chouchou as a guest of a PR professional and received a complimentary meal. All opinions and photos are my own, with the exception of the interior photo, courtesy of chouchounyc.com.