Carrier Corner: a review of Maman Joon

Ellen Carrier and Leah Carrier

Nestled in the heart of Tenleytown lies a warm and vibrant nook of a restaurant: Maman Joon. We set out to give it a try on one overcast fall evening, our stomachs eager with anticipation. 

Stepping foot into this bustling eatery was enough to make one hungry rower’s mouth water. The colors, the smells, the clamor of cooking from the kitchen, just visible behind plexiglass dividers––it was sensory bliss at first whiff.

We could give you Maman Joon’s backstory, like how its authentic Persian food is tenderly crafted following cherished family recipes or how its name translates to “dear mom.” However, we decided to first cut to the meat of the matter: the food.

As an appetizer, we ordered falafel. Our previous experiences with chickpea fritters have often been hit or miss, but we were pleasantly surprised by the richness of the dish. The outer layer was brown and crisp, while the inside offered a textured bite of nutty, rich flavors. They were the perfect size for an appetizer, enough to satisfy three people. 

For our main course, we ordered two dishes, the first of which was a chicken kabob. At first glance, the dish was underwhelming—a few meager pieces of meat sitting atop a giant mound of saffron rice. But growing up in a Korean-American household where rice is a staple, we’ve developed a profound appreciation for this versatile grain. Rest assured that every morsel was hungrily devoured. 

Each entree was accompanied by a “special sauce” (some combination of dill, mint, and yogurt) with a cool, soothing flavor, almost like a mid-bite palette cleanser.

The chicken itself was perfectly juicy, with an exterior crunch and an interior explosion of goodness. Of the many kabobs we’ve consumed in our lifetimes, this one was top tier. Unlike most dry amateur attempts, this chicken was moist and well cooked. Additionally, the flavor consistent throughout the whole chunk, as opposed to just coated on the outside. The ultimate bite: a piece of chicken, slice of roasted tomato, scoop of rice, and dribble of special sauce. Perfection. 

The lamb sandwich sent us to a completely different side of flavor town. Each bite featured a balanced combination of pickled vegetables, cilantro, red onion, and the star of the show: perfectly seasoned lamb. The veggies provided a crunchy contrast to the soft bread that surrounded it.

The last thing that we ordered was a karoun yogurt drink (the original flavor, to be precise). We didn’t exactly know what to expect, but we were met with a smooth, almost savory, flavor. As we continued to drink it, it phased into a deep zing of dairy flavor that calmed our taste buds after the meal’s assortment of complex tastes.

Our only negative remarks: some of the dessert items listed on the menu were unavailable, however the employee on the phone assured us that it was because of an effort to prioritize quality over quantity as a relatively new restaurant. Our order was slightly expensive, but worth a delectable splurge once in a while.

Overall, we would rate Maman Joon with 9.5 out of 10 stars. The staff was kind and welcoming, each dish was crafted with consistent quality, and the complimentary bread served with our meal was fresh-baked and perfect for using up the sauce that remained on our dishes once we’d finished eating. The delicious smells wafting from the restaurant teased our noses, and the dishes themselves delivered. Thanks for a wonderful meal, Maman Joon!

Catch us next month with a new review on a local restaurant! But for now, Carriers out. •