A new carryout and delivery restaurant serving Moroccan food is now open on Detroit’s east side. Chef and food truck owner Omar Anani debuted Saffron De Twah this week at 7650 Gratiot Ave. in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood with options like lamb tagine bowls and Moroccan-style hot chicken.
Anani (Twisted Mitten and Grill Billies food trucks) purchased the former O’Quin BBQ & Shrimp building on Gratiot several years ago and utilized it as a commissary kitchen. For a brief time it was destined to become the brick-and-mortar outpost for his Asian food truck Fat Panda. However, Anani says he decided to scrap that idea after seeing an influx of new Asian restaurants in the downtown area, and refocus on Arab food.
While many restaurants in the metro Detroit area serve different regional styles of Arab cuisine, the majority still define themselves more generally as Mediterranean food, Anani says. He’d like to see that change. “There is no differentiation,” he says, “People don’t understand the difference between a Palestinian dish and a Lebanese dish and a Moroccan dish and an Egyptian dish.”
Anani, who is of Palestinian and Egyptian descent, has spent time traveling internationally and learning new recipes and techniques by cooking in family kitchens. With Saffron De Twah, Anani is putting those skills he learned overseas to use. “I wanted to be able to bring in some of my culture and heritage, and show people the difference [between different Arab cuisines] while still being a little bit modern,” he says.
At Saffron De Twah, customers can expect twists on Moroccan flavors such as baby back lamb ribs with ras el hanout (a spice blend used in North African cooking) and pomegranate barbecue sauce and chicken shawarma bowls with lemon vegetable couscous, veggies, garlic sauce, and pickled cucumber and turnip. Anani also included two vegan options — a ras el hanout-grilled cauliflower steak with chermoula sauce and harissa potatoes and a carrot tagine served with lemon vegetable couscous and pomegranate walnut salsa. The entire menu is halal and items are under $11 each.
The menu is currently available for pickup and delivery on Grubhub or for carryout, though Anani will soon add a dine-in area with seats for 20 people. The space, which was originally decorated for Fat Panda, will undergo a refresh with new lighting, fresh paint, and Moroccan-style lanterns.
Saffron De Twah is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 7650 Gratiot Ave.