Maman Joon, Tenleytown, Washington, DC

I heard that there was a Persian restaurant in the neighborhood, up in Tenleytown. That piqued my interest so I arranged to meet my good and, by now, long-time friend, Ken DeCell, there for lunch. You can find more about Ken here. Beyond teeing one up for his wife, Florri, to knock out of the park (check that link you just skipped), Ken is a fine musician (go hear him at St. Columba’s some Sunday), an excellent editor, and a thoughtfu person. And no, I don’t owe him money and he doesn’t have really embarrassing pictures of me. I don’t think. Anyway, I’m always excited to try a new restaurant — or an old one, for that matter — so off we went. And it turned out that I enjoyed Maman Joon.

Maman Joon is in that strip on the Whole Foods side of Wisconsin Avenue, and the decor is the modestly elevated fast food ambience appropriate to the location. You order at the counter and they bring you the food when it’s ready, which is neither distressingly immediately not irritatingly tardily. The Maman Noon folks are well prepared and well organized The menu can be described briefly if inadequately as Middle Eastern.

I looked over the menu, spotted lamb shank, and reflexively ordered it. I really like lamb shank. When we had a tasting meeting with the caterer for Liza’s wedding reception, I asked that they include their lamb shank option for us to taste, even though I knew we’d pick the crab-stuffed rockfish. I just wanted to eat some lamb shank. I also ordered some falafel as an appetizer for the table. Ken ordered the kobideh kabob sandwich, ground chicken with grated onion and seasoning. He and Florri had ordered take out from Maman Joon once before, and Ken liked the kobideh and ordered it again.

There’s ample seating inside, but Ken and I grabbed one of a handful of tables outside where we could watch the passing parade. The sidewalks are busy and the crowd is varied. While we chatted and gawked, some very nice, fragrant flatbread arrived with a so-so yogurt dip.

Ken’s order arrived first, but was followed presently by the falafel and my lamb shank.

First the falafel, with one missing.

The falafel exterior was very crunchy, a bit too formidable for my taste, and the interior was very creamy. It arrived piping hot, hot enough that you should remember to break the crust to let some heat escape before taking a bite. It was tasty and nicely seasoned. I prefer the Hilana Falafel you can get at the Broad Branch Market on Monday afternoons, but then you can get Maman Joon’s every day. That said, Ken and I laid waste to it, and left not a crumb behind.

The lamb shank:

Not much to look at, is it? It would be prettier with maybe a minute or two under the broiler for some caramelization, but the interior was just beautiful, bright, tender, and with a good flavor. I liked it. It was a lot of lamb, and it arrived on a big old mound of rice with broad beans and lots of dill. It was a very nice dish and I enjoyed it.

I’d ordered a lot of food, enough, as so often is the case, for a full meal for two people. Ken’s also was enough for two, but he only ate for one and took the other half home for later. I lack Ken’s genius for stopping during a meal, and I ended up eating all of the lamb, to my surprise, but left a good bit of rice.

Ken and I both enjoyed our meals. The food is gently but thoughtfully seasoned, and it is the sort of food that can stand travel. It would be good to order as carry out. Maman Joon is a good option for a quick lunch or a good dinner to go. Give it a try.


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6 thoughts on “Maman Joon, Tenleytown, Washington, DC

  1. Maman Joon is Iranian, not simply “Middle Eastern.” Kabobs are the main thing and I think they are very good. I think it’s better than Moby Dick.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. “Middle Eastern” was, indeed, an inadequate description. I don’t really know a lot about Persian/Iranian food, but I did recognize a number fo dishes from Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants at which I’ve eaten. I’ll have to try the kabobs. Are there particular kabobs you recommend?


      1. (Piling on here). I know some Iranians insist they are not even in the Middle East. But for us, it all seems kind of “Middle Easty” over there.

        I’d love to go to Iran one day, but that doesn’t seem likely any time in the near future. In the ESL class that I teach, an Iranian woman was arguing yesterday that my wife and I should visit Iran because the people are so friendly and love Americans. She pointed to the Tony Bourdain episode as proof of that. I responded, “You mean the episode where Tony interviewed the American reporter who the government later imprisoned for two years?”

        She conceded that prison might be a risk.


      2. I guess Iran is in West or Southwest Asia rather than the Middle East, but I don’t know that “West Asian” would be a helpful description of a cuisine for most folks.

        And I, too, would like to travel to Iran, but, for the moment, it’s on my kick the bucket list — a pretty long list these days.


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