5800 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
Aziza is a Moroccan restaurant – the only one I know of that has a Michelin star. As a result, I thought this would be a pretty interesting place to try as I don’t eat Moroccan food too often. It’s located in a residential neighborhood in the Richmond District of San Francisco, an unassuming area where you would not expect to find such a highly-regarded restaurant.
The interior is colorful and comfortable.
The menu is a la carte, but the restaurant also offers a 5-course tasting menu which showcases some of the specialties of the restaurant, and also allows the diner a chance to choose some of the dishes on the menu to build their own. We went with this tasting menu, and steered it towards some of the dishes we wanted to try.
The first course was a soup of chicken bouillon with a Medjool date puree and farro.The soup had a rich chicken flavor, and the puree added some texture and substance. Good, hearty soup, but nothing special.
I enjoyed this dish, as I do like boneless chicken wings. However, I found the meat a bit soft, there was not a lot of texture to the meat.
grape, jícama, herb vinaigrette
The meatballs were spiced nicely, but were rather small. I got hints of it, but there was not enough in each bite – larger meatballs would have allowed a little more chewing time in the mouth.
The third course:
I had high hopes for this dish, as it resembles a sort of chicken pot pie. Interestingly, the size of the basteeya is the same whether you have two people or three (and the price of the meal is the same), so you are much better off sharing this in pairs. The dish did not really come together as expected. The meat was a little dry and got lost in the dough a little bit.
Next were the fourth courses, or the entrees:
vadouvan, marble potato, leaves
A nice looking piece of fish here. It was cooked well with a nice sear and a moist interior.
barley, prune, cranberry, scallion
The lamb shank was one of the dishes I read a lot about going in. First of all, I could’ve done without the prunes – they were overpowering. The barley was made into a sort of barley risotto, which I don’t recall ever having before. It was rich and delicious, something I hope to see again. The lamb’s presentation was nice, and was a pretty large size. However, I thought the meat was falling off the bone almost too easily – it was lacking some of the texture that meat should have and was almost..dare I say..mushy. I think it was perhaps just cooked too long.
puntarelle, baby leek, saffron, hon shimeji mushroom
This dish was tiny compared to the cod, and especially the lamb (even though this was the most expensive on the menu). It’s really kind of an appetizer-sized dish with two sea scallops and some clams. The dish was good, but was rather unfulfilling due to the size.
Lastly, the fifth courses (dessert):
buckwheat crêpe, apple fritter, ginger ice cream
There was a warm crepe filled with apple and quince, with ginger ice cream. This dessert was pretty good, and the ginger ice cream was subtle enough to not overpower everything.
dacquoise, pear, burnt honey ice cream
I loved the presentation of this dish. It just looks pretty..however, the dish was just okay.
sesame mousse, cocoa spice cake, cranberry
The ‘chocolate’ was a mousse cake, but was rather light in flavor.
In all, Aziza was an interesting restaurant, but it fell a little under expectations. It’s a casual restaurant with a reasonably priced tasting menu ($62) and a flexible wine pairing ($20-40 depending on how much you want to spend). It’s definitely a good way to try a Michelin-starred establishment while trying a cuisine that isn’t mainstream. However, none of the courses really stood out as exceptional, and none were bad. I felt that a number of courses had potential but was just missing something.