Palikao – Downtown LA’s Organic Couscous Bowls with International Flavors
By Michael Vallens
The Los Angeles food landscape is as varied as a bowl of assorted jelly beans. Discovering new foodie destinations has become an obsession among Angelinos. Finding the nearest massive burger or newest ramen joint is now common place, but LA’s fixation on being healthy has brought out gems like Downtown Los Angeles’ Palikao.
Owner and personal chef Lionel Pigeard paid homage to Palikao, the village where his grandmother was raised in Algeria. The focus of Palikao is the North African staple couscous.
Not uncommon here in the states, couscous is often used to make salads or as an alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes. At Palikao, Lionel uses French cooking techniques to create a modern take on couscous.
Palikao offers two varieties of couscous such as Whole wheat, traditional organic, and a gluten-free mix of red and white quinoa with millet.
The concept at Palikao is to create your own couscous bowl. After choosing your couscous or gluten-free grains, you can select from an assortment of tasty vegetables and proteins.
Once you are done with the veggies, you can choose from a veggie broth or a spiced up version with Palikao’s homemade Harissa added.
Lionel states that his Harissa comes from a Tunisian recipe but uses chilies from Mexico to create a fusion of North African flavors with Mexican and Southern Californian organic produce.
After taking it all in, I asked Lionel to construct a bowl with a little bit of everything, and he did not disappoint.
Starting with generous scoops of whole wheat and traditional organic couscous, Lionel begins with the Beef Meatballs, created from an old family recipe.
The meatball is rich and lightly spiced in order to let the richness of the beef stand out.
The Chicken Tagine has an incredible aroma and is pre-marinated with dried plums, orange zest and spices. I was chomping at the bit to try this tantalizing chicken.
There are tasty vegan options at Palikao, including the Veggie Meatballs made with mushrooms, black beans, quinoa, spices, shallot and herbs. These veggie meatballs hold their own against the real thing.
The selection of eight vegetables are varied and healthily prepared. Lionel offers pumpkin, carrots, kale, zucchini, golden beets, turnip, garbanzo beans, and an incredible onion marmalade.
The pumpkin, golden beets and turnip were boiled in veggie broth until tender. Both the pumpkin and golden beets provide a vibrant color to this healthy couscous bowl.
The carrots, kale, zucchini and garbanzo beans each lend their own unique, varied and satisfying textures.
After it is all assembled, Lionel then pours a savory and aromatic veggie broth over it all. This broth is another family secret recipe that features coriander and clove.
Add green onion, cilantro or parsley as a garnish with a spoonful of the spicy harissa and the bowl is complete and ready to be enjoyed.
In addition, you can order house drinks such as fresh squeezed juices, teas, espresso, cappuccino and hot and iced coffees.
Palikao is anything but ordinary. It is a healthy breath of fresh air in a city full of unhealthy choices. Showcasing flavors from his families ancestry in Algeria and using the region’s number one staple couscous, Lionel has provided an opportunity to sample a taste of this history.
Everything at the Palikao is homemade, organic and sustainable. Just like Lionel, Palikao is humble, honest and flat out fantastic. Make sure to stop by Palikao and taste the flavor.
130 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Mon – Sat 11 am – 9 pm