I’ve been thinking about that phrase, “You are what you eat.” I always assumed the saying meant you literally are what you eat, so if you eat only pork you might end up resembling a pig. However, I recalled the saying while thinking about what my eating habits say about me. Suddenly, I am what I eat. No, I’m not a cow when I eat burgers or a rabbit when I eat my heaping Val salad, but my personality manifests itself in my eating habits. I try to stay away from dessert, but just as I sometimes fail to avoid Hulu or Netflix while doing homework, I am not generally surprised if I find myself at GoBerry. And while I appreciate change in life, I know that I can stick to the same three meals at Val everyday unless I decide I want to revamp my Val eating habits. Along those lines, I have a few main restaurants of choice in Amherst, and while I love trying new foods and visiting different restaurants, I can just as easily stick with those easy and familiar choices.
Last Wednesday, I felt mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to savor my chicken saté soup at Miss Saigon. I eagerly anticipated my heartwarming and throat-soothing chicken noodle soup for $7.45, but my friend threw me for a loop and insisted we go elsewhere. Anywhere. My mind raced as I scrambled through options, but she said she wanted to go somewhere unusual for us. I felt stumped, but then I remembered the first restaurant I visited as a freshman, when all of the others were closed due to Hurricane Irene.
Shortly after, Emily and I stepped into the softly lit entrance of Moti, ready for a new meal that would tantalize our taste buds and remind us of the value of change. This petite Persian Mediterranean restaurant resides along the strip with Jay Gumbo’s, Arigato and Antonio’s Pizza and maintains lighting dim enough to create a sense of privacy as its floor-to-ceiling windows overlook South Pleasant Street and High Horse.
As we sat down, I appreciated the red and orange bowls that glowed with burning candles and rested upon bricks jutting out from the wall, complementing the glowing red lights and deep, reddish brown walls. Although we sat at a regular table, I noticed curtains hanging above lower tables surrounded by short, cushioned stools and a bench along the wall, giving Moti a cozy, authentic feel.
Suddenly my hunger got the better of me, and I buried my nose in the menu, searching for the best option to squelch my wily appetite. I scanned the appetizers as I rushed to find the entrées, but I did notice the various starters like pickles and olive ($4.95), dolmades ($4.95), panir ($6.95) and baba ganoush ($6.95). In the process, I learned that dolmades are grape leaves filled with herbs and spices and garnished with pomegranate sauce, and panir is “creamy feta with fresh mint leaves, basil and radish served with warm pita.” I felt relieved when the menu confirmed my belief that baba ganoush is an eggplant and garlic dip served with pita; otherwise I would have felt silly. As I edged towards the entrée’s, I eyed the salads, noticing the Mediterranean lentil salad ($9.95); a Persian salad comprised of cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions ($4.95); and a stuffed grape leaves salad ($9.95).
Finally, I reached the main dishes and stumbled slightly as I encountered a variety of choices. I struggled to sift through the different lists of signature rice dishes, dinner platters, combined dinner platters, vegetarian options and signature entrees. Thankfully, Moti simplified this information. The dinner platters consist of mainly kabobs of various meat ($14.95-$18.9), and the combo platters are simply different combinations of beef and chicken ($18.95-$19.95). The two-item vegetarian menu includes vegetarian chili and lentils with rice ($7.94) and chelo vegetarian ($11.95), which is an assortment of foods from hummus and pita to falafel. Lastly, the signature dishes involved rice topped with chicken, chicken curry, lamb stew or steak and chicken ($14.95-$8.95). Having categorized these options, I felt equipped to order.
Soon enough, we had a plate of creamy hummus ($4.95) sitting before us. I quickly snatched a piece of pita, dipped it into the saffron topped hummus and contentedly chewed, enjoying the slight tint of salt and earthy nuttiness. In the next few minutes, my friend and I successfully finished the entire platter and awaited our main dishes eagerly.
As my hunger began to creep back stronger than ever, strengthened by the hummus, my gyro dinner ($12.95) arrived. Of course, I began to eat according to my habits, starting with the side salad and waiting till I had finished it to move on to the rice topped with slices of lamb, but then I wondered if I had approached my meal incorrectly. I could not be sure, so I tried mixing the crunchy Romaine lettuce with the soft lamb and rice, and I found myself experiencing a wonderful combination of textures and flavors. The bite of the garlic in the tzatziki sauce topping the lamb and salad blended with the saltiness of the tender lamb to create a burst of flavor that the rice and yogurt in the tzatziki sauce subtly complemented. No taste overwhelmed another, and yet all appeared with each bite. Needless to say, I enjoyed each and every mouthful, ate till I felt stuffed and enthusiastically requested to have the rest wrapped up.
At the end of the meal, I felt satisfyingly full but not laden down by a heavy meal, even though I had eaten lamb. I also realized that Moti deserves more credit than it receives as it provides good, foreign cuisine at a reasonably affordable price. I cannot wait to visit Moti again, now as I write. I think Moti is certainly a restaurant of choice in Amherst.