Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The scratch cooking of Simsim

Outstanding Shawarma Mediterranean food for the new generation of fast casual concepts

A $3.50 side of made-from-scratch falafel
A $3.50 side of made-from-scratch falafel

When you walk into Simsim Outstanding Shawarma, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the fast casual Mediterranean spot. From detailed interior design elements to the placement of aspirational slogans like, “stand out from the crowd,” and “hummus is our guac,” the counter service eatery reads like a place that has undertaken great pains to appear effortless.

Place

Simsim Outstanding Shawarma

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Suite 301, San Diego

Which makes more sense when you consider it’s not meant to be a stand-alone restaurant, but the first in a chain — a second, Carmel Mountain location is in the works. And except for the fact it sits in a Kearny Mesa strip mall rather than a buzzy urban development in East Village, the impression I get is something like the shawarma-shop answer to everybody’s favorite new elevated taco joint, Lola 55.

A chicken shawarma bowl served over brown basmati rice with cucumbe yogurt (moutabel and baba ghanoush added for a dollar each)

But for that comparison to work, Simsim (the Arabic word for sesame) would have to offer a chef-driven menu, providing dishes made using better-than-fast food ingredients, and made from scratch. Enter co-founder and executive chef Ibrahim Alsharief, a Jordanian chef who comes to San Diego after years cooking for upscale hotel restaurants in Dubai, Bahrain, and Kuwait. He brings a detailed knowledge of traditional Arabic cooking, and a preference for whole spices, ground daily to ensure freshness.

Simsim's fast casual interior design by Bells & Whistles

The rotisserie chicken is halal, raised without hormone or antibiotic additives, and marinated for 24 hours in a blend of 18 spices. The rotisserie meat gets the same treatment with a 7-spice blend, with a combination of certified angus beef and grass-fed lamb. Sauces made from scratch include tahini (sesame paste), garlic, roasted tomato, and cucumber yogurt, while hummus made from sprouted chick peas. Whereas Lola 55 prepares corn tortillas on a flat top comal, at Simsim, flatbreads cook on a small saaj, the dome-shaped grill.

Wraps, plates, and bowls range from 9 to 12 dollars apiece, with optional add-ons including assorted traditional sides. It’s a great opportunity to explore the subtle difference between baba ghanoush and moutabel. Both are hummus-like pastes made from (in this case) fire roasted eggplant. However, according to Alsharief, pureed eggplant mixed with tahini is called moutabel, while baba ghanoush doesn’t necessarily feature the sesame paste. Both are served here, and while the baba ghanoush is peppered with sesame seeds, it notably features diced bell peppers and onions, giving it a greenish cast versus the moutabel’s creamy beige.

Moutabel is my jam, and it’s killer here, as is the tahini on its own (or spicy tahini, if you like a little burn). The falafel, also made from scratch, is dense, grainy, and parsley spiced, and would satisfy in the event I turn vegetarian. However, the meat dishes star here, particularly the beautifully seasoned chicken. Depending whether you order it as a wrap or over a bowl of fragrantly spiced brown basmati rice, the menu defaults to specific sauce pairings, but you can request whichever sauce combinations you prefer (I’m partial to spicy garlic and tahini, but I’m sure I’ll come around to the roasted tomato sauce in time).

I generally enjoy the movement of fast casual concepts in a chef- and ingredient-driven directions, and especially enjoy the recent trend of such restaurants starting out in San Diego. Now that we’re set for tacos and shawarma wraps, I look forward to see what comes next.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

St. Andrew’s Lutheran: a model of giving and serving others

The question tends to be, “What do I get out of this?” rather than “What can I do?”
Next Article

St. Andrew’s Lutheran: a model of giving and serving others

The question tends to be, “What do I get out of this?” rather than “What can I do?”
Comments
1

Dude. Yes. I want it all.

Any Ras el Hanout?!

Fast food Mediterranean done well is something I still haven't found in my area. I used to go to a killer one in LA.

April 7, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

A $3.50 side of made-from-scratch falafel
A $3.50 side of made-from-scratch falafel

When you walk into Simsim Outstanding Shawarma, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the fast casual Mediterranean spot. From detailed interior design elements to the placement of aspirational slogans like, “stand out from the crowd,” and “hummus is our guac,” the counter service eatery reads like a place that has undertaken great pains to appear effortless.

Place

Simsim Outstanding Shawarma

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Suite 301, San Diego

Which makes more sense when you consider it’s not meant to be a stand-alone restaurant, but the first in a chain — a second, Carmel Mountain location is in the works. And except for the fact it sits in a Kearny Mesa strip mall rather than a buzzy urban development in East Village, the impression I get is something like the shawarma-shop answer to everybody’s favorite new elevated taco joint, Lola 55.

A chicken shawarma bowl served over brown basmati rice with cucumbe yogurt (moutabel and baba ghanoush added for a dollar each)

But for that comparison to work, Simsim (the Arabic word for sesame) would have to offer a chef-driven menu, providing dishes made using better-than-fast food ingredients, and made from scratch. Enter co-founder and executive chef Ibrahim Alsharief, a Jordanian chef who comes to San Diego after years cooking for upscale hotel restaurants in Dubai, Bahrain, and Kuwait. He brings a detailed knowledge of traditional Arabic cooking, and a preference for whole spices, ground daily to ensure freshness.

Simsim's fast casual interior design by Bells & Whistles

The rotisserie chicken is halal, raised without hormone or antibiotic additives, and marinated for 24 hours in a blend of 18 spices. The rotisserie meat gets the same treatment with a 7-spice blend, with a combination of certified angus beef and grass-fed lamb. Sauces made from scratch include tahini (sesame paste), garlic, roasted tomato, and cucumber yogurt, while hummus made from sprouted chick peas. Whereas Lola 55 prepares corn tortillas on a flat top comal, at Simsim, flatbreads cook on a small saaj, the dome-shaped grill.

Wraps, plates, and bowls range from 9 to 12 dollars apiece, with optional add-ons including assorted traditional sides. It’s a great opportunity to explore the subtle difference between baba ghanoush and moutabel. Both are hummus-like pastes made from (in this case) fire roasted eggplant. However, according to Alsharief, pureed eggplant mixed with tahini is called moutabel, while baba ghanoush doesn’t necessarily feature the sesame paste. Both are served here, and while the baba ghanoush is peppered with sesame seeds, it notably features diced bell peppers and onions, giving it a greenish cast versus the moutabel’s creamy beige.

Moutabel is my jam, and it’s killer here, as is the tahini on its own (or spicy tahini, if you like a little burn). The falafel, also made from scratch, is dense, grainy, and parsley spiced, and would satisfy in the event I turn vegetarian. However, the meat dishes star here, particularly the beautifully seasoned chicken. Depending whether you order it as a wrap or over a bowl of fragrantly spiced brown basmati rice, the menu defaults to specific sauce pairings, but you can request whichever sauce combinations you prefer (I’m partial to spicy garlic and tahini, but I’m sure I’ll come around to the roasted tomato sauce in time).

I generally enjoy the movement of fast casual concepts in a chef- and ingredient-driven directions, and especially enjoy the recent trend of such restaurants starting out in San Diego. Now that we’re set for tacos and shawarma wraps, I look forward to see what comes next.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Streaming with the Electric Waste Band

Winstons adapts to COVID-19 safety concerns
Next Article

Yonder Mountain String Band, Live Animal Friday: Sea Stars, Slay at Home Virtual Music Festival

Events May 28-May 30, 2020
Comments
1

Dude. Yes. I want it all.

Any Ras el Hanout?!

Fast food Mediterranean done well is something I still haven't found in my area. I used to go to a killer one in LA.

April 7, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close