San Francisco, CA – Aziza (New Moroccan Restaurant – Chef Mourad Lahlou)

Restaurant: Aziza
Cuisine: Moroccan/New American/Mediterranean
Last visited: May 6, 2013
Location: San Francisco, CA (Outer Richmond)
Address: 5800 Geary Blvd
Phone: (415) 752-2222
Transit: Geary Blvd & 22nd Ave
Price Range: $30-50+ ($25-35 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4.5 (based on what I tried)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Chef/Owner Mourad Lahlou
  • Innovative New Moroccan cuisine
  • 1 Michelin Star
  • Critically acclaimed
  • Local and global ingredients
  • Seasonal menus
  • Chef Tasting Menus
  • Cocktail/wine program
  • Reservations recommended
  • Wed-Mon 5:30–10:30 pm
  • Closed Tuesday
  • Twitter: @AzizaSF

**Recommendations: The 13 course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($95/person) was more impressive than the a la carte, although the a la carte was still very good. The cocktails and dessert menu should not be missed. If you’re ordering a la carte try the Lentil Soup, Sardines, and Duck Confit Basteeya. The desserts change often and according to season, but on the current menu I recommend the Almond-Honey Semifreddo.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (1)No, this couldn’t be it. Just let me double check the address. I’m sure it’s called Aziza, or was it Laziza? No, Laziza is the one in Vancouver, I was looking for Aziza in San Francisco.

It’s a 1 Michelin Star upscale restaurant featuring new Moroccan cuisine, and it was unexpected to find it on this street corner. The sign didn’t really shout “upscale” and from the outside it looked a bit shady, but I knew what I was getting myself in to. I knew well in advance too, as to why I even made reservations a week early. It is not a restaurant you just happen to walk by, it is restaurant you make plans to visit.

The Richmond District is populated with Chinese and Russian immigrants and mom and pop type ethnic eateries (mostly Asian) which dominate the area. Aziza is located in Outer Richmond which is the up and coming part of the Richmond District, as opposed to the inner part which is already full of restaurants.

It opened in 2001 and the love for it has only grown stronger. It won reviews from local media early on and has been on the James Beard Award radar most recently. It received James Beard Award nominations for Aziza, Mourad, and his Pastry Chef Melissa Chou, and the restaurant and team is still on the rise.

It is not easy to stay in the spotlight after opening for over 10 years (especially for modern restaurants like this), but Aziza must be doing something right or the hype would have died a long time ago. It still remains a neighbourhood gem and attracts locals and traveling food enthusiasts alike.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (2)Follow Me Foodie to San Francisco started at Aziza and I was off to a good start. The restaurant was more pleasant once inside and it was a lot bigger than expected. There are 3 separate rooms, each uniquely themed, but still Moroccan inspired. It had the white tablecloths and the service was formal, but the room was trendy and not as committed to traditional fine dining quality. It was stylish and sophisticated, but not ritzy or rich.

Before I dwell into the food, I have to state my biases. I actually met Mourad last year at West Restaurant when he was invited as a guest chef. He prepared a New Moroccan Menu and I wrote about the experience here. It can be tricky writing about food when you become friends with the chef, but there is a mutual understanding and respect. Regardless it is not the first time I’ve done it, and if you’re familiar with this blog then you already trust it or you don’t.

I can’t say I’ve had much experience with Moroccan cuisine let alone “New Moroccan” cuisine. I refuse to put it under the umbrella categories of Middle Eastern or African food just because it isn’t specific enough. I find it deserving of its own category. Nonetheless I don’t have many point of references for how Mourad’s dishes came to be, but based on reading his book and trying his food, I could see his intentions.

More often than not I would order a Tasting Menu (not a price fixe menu), but I was anticipating a Tasting Menu at benu the next day and I didn’t want to suffer from palate fatigue. (Omg, did I really just say that?! First world problems.) I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. Sometimes overindulgence can ruin an experience. So I ended up ordering from the a la carte menu, but Chef was kind enough to send out some items from his Chef’s Tasting Menu.

Although I preferred the Chef’s Tasting Menu (even only after trying 1/3 of it), I am glad I got to try the a la carte items too. It gave me a better idea of how to maneuver the menu. Mourad’s creativity is best expressed in his Tasting Menu and I wasn’t expecting it to get as intense as it did. He is a real chef who is passionate about cooking and the menu was progressive, artistic, and innovative.

The Tasting Menu was riskier and more exciting than the a la carte menu, and without trying the Tasting Menu I would have missed out. It wouldn’t have been bad, but I wouldn’t have been surprised and my dining experience would not have reached full potential. The Tasting Menu was more suited for my tastes and dining style.

While both menus featured New Moroccan cuisine, the flavours of Morocco were not always obvious. This is his style though and how he approaches Moroccan cuisine.

The dishes are inspired by traditional dishes, but the spices and flavours are lighter and toned down with spices. It isn’t watered down because his reason for using less spices isn’t to cater to the majority, but it is to showcase the flavour profile of each spice by not using them excessively or mixing around too many. The theory may be unfamiliar to purists of traditional Moroccan cuisine, but Mourad is not one to play by rules as to why he also emphasizes Aziza as a “New Moroccan” restaurant.

Although Aziza is known as the first Moroccan restaurant to receive a Michelin Star, I wouldn’t celebrate it as that. Some of the Tasting Menu courses seemed New American and I was more intrigued with Mourad’s creativity and techniques than I was with his “New Moroccan” flavours.

The food was delicate, light with sauces, and clean in presentation. Both menus used Moroccan and Californian ingredients, but the Tasting Menu in particular was executed with very carefully selected ingredients which were well highlighted.

Mourad’s personality came out in the Tasting Menu and it showed who he was as a chef. It offered a sense of discovery and experience. Aziza is an unique and welcomed addition to the neighbourhood, but it is no ordinary neighbourhood restaurant. The room feels more Moroccan than the food, but the carefully put together menu speaks of a strong team.

If it hasn’t gotten comfortable over 10 years and it is still getting deserved recognition, then it hasn’t even peaked. Not to mention North America still hasn’t embraced Moroccan cuisine, so at this point Aziza is ahead of the game and almost before its time. I didn’t find an excellent Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco by coming here, but I found a talented and confident Chef, an experienced team, and restaurant original to San Francisco.

On the table:

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (5)Wild Arugula, Turmeric Root, Reposado Tequila Cocktail

  • $12
  • The innovative cocktail menu is worth exploring alone.
  • All cocktails are made with muddled herbs, vegetables, fruits and spices and they take a bit longer to prepare.
  • This one was sweet, sour and then subtly spicy – in that order too.
  • There was gentle heat from the turmeric root which has a gingery flavour.
  • I thought it would be more savoury, but it wasn’t.
  • It was refreshing, and zesty with flavours of lime and lemon.
  • It was a smooth tequila and even non-tequila fans could warm up to this. 

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (4)Shigoku Oyster – 4/6 (Very good)

  • Sweet pea mousse, garlic puree, mustard flavour
  • I usually like my oysters with less sauce and condiments on the side, but this was not an oyster bar.
  • It was my first time trying a Shigoku (“ultimate” in Japanese) oyster.
  • I wanted to taste its natural flavour and I was afraid it would be masked by the amount of mousse, but it wasn’t.
  • The sweet pea mousse was fresh, light and sweet and there was a slight spice at the end from the fresh garlic puree.
  • The Shigoku oyster was small and it looked like a Kusshi oyster (my favourite).
  • I was impressed with how much the oyster stood out and I could easily taste it.
  • It was clean, smooth and briney with a firm and meaty flesh.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (7)Rice Cracker5/6 (Excellent)

  • Yogurt, Caviar
  • I couldn’t get over the serving dish which was “semi-homemade” upon closer examination.
  • A bowl like this would be a costly investment, but they actually improvised by using plastic wrap. It might not be as elegant, but it worked.
  • It was executed really well and I had to feel around the edge before I could even tell.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (8)

  • Generally I prefer caviar on traditional blinis instead of crostinis.
  • Blinis are softer and don’t interfere with the mouthfeel of the luxurious caviar.
  • This nutty brown rice cracker was very thin and crisp though.
  • It actually worked well and gave contrasting texture I could appreciate.
  • The caviar was Osetra caviar which is a highly prized Russian caviar from large sturgeon.
  • It has a very rich, buttery and salty flavour and it paired well with the yogurt beads which took the same shape.
  • The yogurt beads were a nice switch up from crème fraîche and it suited the Moroccan theme better.
  • I loved how he used spherification to execute the yogurt because it kept the cracker from getting soggy.
  • It also played into the caviar texture and it was a smart method to use for many reasons.
  • It was a nice tangy contrast to the salty caviar and it was just the right amount to not overwhelm it.
  • It was topped with petals from Borage blossoms which have a mild cucumber like flavour.
  • Every component served a purpose and it was a well thought out course to the Tasting Menu.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (9)Crab6/6 (FMF Must Try)

  • Uni, Meyer Lemon, Coconut, Kumquat
  • It was dungeness crab, green daikon, curry flakes, dried kumquats, folded uni, and coconut gelée.
  • This was an unassuming dish because it looked plain and colourless, but the flavours were rich and incredible.
  • The coconut gelée was like a savoury panna cotta.
  • It was rich and creamy and almost mayo like with an unbelievable richness and intense umami (savouriness).
  • It was set with a pectin or a gelatin, but it wasn’t too much.
  • It was sweet from the coconut cream and/or milk and it was infused with lemongrass and perhaps ginger.
  • It was fragrant with a warm heat and it did so much for the natural dungeness crab meat and uni.
  • I would have loved more crispy curry flakes for texture, but they played right into the coconut and it reminded me of Thai curries.
  • The dungeness crab meat was a bit drier in texture, and it was lightly salted and mixed with dried Kumquat peel and Meyer lemon juice.
  • The dried Kumquat bits got rid of any unwanted fishiness in the crab and uni, but the seafood was fresh and good.
  • The crab component lightened up the heavier coconut gelée.
  • The rich uni would have been too indulgent if it was served alone with the gelée.
  • I found the flavours more tropical and South East Asian inspired than Moroccan, but it was my favourite course of the night.
  • It kind of reminded me of the Dungeness Crab with Dashi Custard at Hawksworth.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (11)Liquefied Castelvetrano Olive3/6 (Good)

  • I had high hopes for this, but it didn’t hit the spot although still good. 
  • I anticipate the pop and then the burst of savoury liquid which follows, but the flavours didn’t show up.
  • Castelvetrano Olives are beloved Sicilian olives popularly used in San Francisco.
  • They are meaty, firm, and salty sweet, so it was interesting to see it liquefied and removed from its natural texture.
  • It was a bit fruit and herby in flavour and it was topped with a spicy onion blossom to balance the olive after taste.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (13)Potato5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • Ocean Trout Roe, Apple, Herbs
  • This was my next favourite course of the night.
  • The smoking food trend for 2013 is already getting a bit gimmicky, but when it is done well, it’s done well.
  • There was a sensory experience with this course.
  • It was incredibly aromatic and intense with lots of applewood smoke which stayed trapped inside until the lid was taken off upon serving.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (14)After the smoke was released it was topped with a green apple consommé.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (15)

  • It was an applewood smoked potato mousse with ocean trout roe, granny smith apples, tarragon, pepper and apple consommé.
  • The room temperature potato mousse was light, but intense with buttery and smoky flavour.
  • The combination of smoked potato mousse and trout roe reminded me of smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese.
  • The salty pops of trout roe played the role as salt, and the crunchy balls of green apple were made the same size.
  • The apple consommé was syrupy sweet and very tart with sharp apple flavour, but it brightened up the smoky dish.
  • It had to be eaten sparingly with the potato mousse and roe or the consommé was overpowering.
  • Again, I didn’t really get Moroccan with the dish, but I still loved it.
  • It was part of the Tasting Menu, but I would order it a la carte if it was available.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (16)Egg4/6 (Very good)

  • Parmesan, Chicken Crackling, Charmoula
  • I love eggs and anything that looks like an egg, so I was very excited to see this mock ‘fried egg’ on the Tasting Menu.
  • It was a sous vide (poached) Jidori egg yolk which is one of the latest “foodie-hipster” luxury ingredients.
  • These chickens and their eggs sparked the interest of high end restaurants in LA, New York and Chicago in 2010, but it’s still a rather new ingredient for most.
  • Jidori eggs originated in Japan from the Jidori chicken which is fed an all vegetable diet.
  • It is known for its super rich and decadent bright orange egg yolk. It is enough to be a sauce on its own.
  • The free range chicken and eggs are now being bred in the US, but I’m not sure the difference in terms of flavour.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (18)

  • The poached Jidori egg yolk sat on top of Charmoula and Parmesan foam. 
  • I can’t say I was a fan of the colour combination and the red Charmoula reminded me of blood, so it didn’t sit well mentally or visually.
  • Charmoula is a traditional Moroccan marinade often used on fish and seafood.
  • It was a bit unusual to have it sitting under the egg yolk although it held it in place.
  • It is an acidic and aromatic sauce made with garlic, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, olive oil, shallots and herbs such as parsley.
  • This one tasted a bit like a Middle Eastern marinara sauce.
  • The Parmesan foam was a bit thin and bubbly, but it was savoury, nutty and rich in flavour.
  • The light and airy texture contrasted the decadent and thick egg yolk.
  • Together with the Charmoula it almost tasted like an Italian dish more than Moroccan.
  • The sous vide Jidori egg yolk was not salty or noticeably cured, but it was super rich as expected.
  • It was lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper and almost like a gel. It coated my mouth like paste.
  • The flavour of the yolk was au natural and most of the seasoning for it came from the surrounding condiments.
  • I kind of felt like I was eating a bunch of sauces and the yolk could have used some bread or crostini.
  • I needed something to dip into the egg yolk, or to wipe the plate with.
  • It is a pretty large yolk and the dish got a bit repetitive and I felt like it was missing a component.
  • The chicken crackling was only one piece and it tasted like Chinese style crispy 5-spice chicken skin.
  • It was a delicious addition which gave the dish texture, but I could have used many more strips of this “bacon”.
  • I am assuming Chef wanted to highlight the Jidori yolk as a delicacy, but I think it could have been better although it was still very good.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (20)Sardines - 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Spring Onion, Rye, Radish, Fiddlehead Fern, Spinach, Ash $15
  • I feel like I just saw half of the people reading this scrunch their nose… well if you’re reading this blog maybe less than half, but still.
  • Sardines. You love them or you hate them. Guess which side I’m on?
  • Sardines are sustainable, low on the food chain (meaning they have little contaminants and mercury), and they’re super high in omega-3′s. What’s not to love? The flavour? Nah. Get your mind away from canned sardines (even though I don’t mind those either), the fresh ones are totally different. They’re delicious.
  • This appetizer had 3 boneless fillets of beautiful local Monterey Bay sardines.
  • These under appreciated fish were gently folded and well highlighted. I loved the presentation.
  • This dish was more Mediterranean-Californian than Moroccan though.
  • The sardines were marinated and blanched, fresh tasting, a bit salty, juicy, mildly pickled, not fishy, and clean in flavour.
  • The high quality sardines were the star of the show and heavier than the weight of the crackers.
  • The rye crackers were thin, crunchy and crisp and they played a roll in texture and gave the dish a nutty flavour.
  • It was almost salad like and it could have been boring, but he used interesting farm fresh spring vegetables.
  • It had thinly shaved slices of black and red radish, Peruvian red radishes, red spinach, fiddlehead ferns, and onion ash.
  • Onion ash on herring is something Rene Redzepi of Scandinavian restaurant Noma (now “#2 Best Restaurant in the World”) pioneered, so this was likely inspired by that concept.
  • The onion ash sprinkle was undetectable, but it was supposed to give smoky bitter flavours to the sardines.
  • The “dressing” was dollops of green garlic puree which tasted like a mild and light herb sauce.
  • I wouldn’t have minded something stronger like a chermoula sauce because the sardines were not that salty and the veggies au natural.
  • Fried sardines stuffed with chermoula is also traditional Moroccan food so it would suit the theme.
  • It was a very delicate and almost under seasoned dish, but it let the quality of the sardines shine and I loved that.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (23)**Duck Confit Basteeya - 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Raisin, Almond $23 (available as appetizer, half portion shown in photo)
  • This is one of Aziza’s signature dishes as to why I recommend it.
  • I had a version of his Basteeya at his Guest Chef dinner at West last year – see here, but this was another version.
  • Basteeya is native to Morocco and known as Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie.
  • It is labour intensive and made for special occasions because it’s a 2 day process.
  • I haven’t tried an authentic Basteeya so do not have an original to draw reference from.
  • The traditional version looks like a giant wheel of cheese wrapped in phyllo.
  • It’s supposed to be an equally sweet and savoury dish which is a combination I love.
  • This version was not a traditional Basteeya and it seemed unexpectedly simpler.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (24)

  • Traditionally basteeya is made with chicken, but it was “upgraded” to duck in Mourad’s New Moroccan version.
  • It was sweet, tender and moist duck confit wrapped in a thin, light, crisp and flaky phyllo dough.
  • There was no skimping on the duck and it wasn’t filler or stuffing like at all.
  • The duck was sweet from caramelized onions and seasoned with Moroccan spices like cinnamon, cloves and coriander.
  • I was actually hoping for more layers and textures of raisins and almonds.
  • The almonds were ground and the raisins seemed melted and undetectable in texture.
  • The duck was sauteed in a sweet sauce and the raisins seemed like they got lost in it.
  • It was spring roll like and a traditional basteeya seemed more complex, but this still tasted very good.
  • It was very rich and buttery in flavour being duck confit, so it was balanced with cooling components on the side.
  • The raw sour plums were crunchy and tart, but not sour.
  • There was also some sour plum puree to eat with the basteeya.
  • I could have used a bit more sour plum puree to finish the basteeya with, and it was actually my first time having green plums with duck.
  • Sour cherry, red plum, fig or prunes are classic French accompaniments to duck, so this played on that.
  • Lastly there were some fresh green almonds (delicacy; since they only appear for 8 weeks in the Spring).
  • They were removed from their shells and possibly compressed and moist.
  • They tasted like lily bulbs or water chestnuts and looked like cloves of garlic.
  • I enjoyed the dish, but it almost seemed too simplified and I just wanted more layers in the stuffing although it was still flavourful.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (26)Lamb Loin & Belly3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Cauliflower, Lime Yogurt, Hazelnut $33
  • I had to order a lamb course at a Moroccan restaurant.
  • It seemed like a modern interpretation of a lamb tagine.
  • The lamb was sous vide and roasted upon order and I requested it medium rare.
  • The meat was a bit chewy though and it didn’t seem quite marinated.
  • It was a bit gamey tasting, but not overly so and I am sensitive to game.
  • Instead of traditional cous cous it was served over cauliflower which was executed like cous cous.
  • I loved the nutty diced cauliflower and I think it was sauteed in brown butter.
  • It would be even better more crispy because they were still quite crunchy and firm.
  • It would be nice to have some almonds and raisins mixed in to be more like a cous cous, but it was still good.
  • The description said “hazelnut“, but I’m not sure where they were on the plate and I couldn’t taste them.
  • The lime yogurt puree (brown in colour) tasted like a savoury, creamy rich mushroom puree.
  • The lamb belly and puree were my favourite parts of the dish and the puree had an intense umami (savoury flavour).
  • The umami was not from mushrooms though, it was from sweet caramelized onions and perhaps some brown butter.
  • It didn’t really taste like yogurt and I think the lime was dry lime (common Middle Eastern ingredient for soups and stews).
  • The puree had a mild acidity, but it was the sauce to the lamb and cauliflower.
  • It was thicker to almost compensate for a Morrocan lamb tagine or stew.
  • Often yogurt or raita finishes a traditional tagine, so this puree played with that idea.
  • There was a single char-grilled scallion draped in the centre which gave the dish some sweetness.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (29)

  • The sweetly glazed lamb belly was incredible. It almost always is if executed well.
  • It was only a small piece, which is good because it is so decadent.
  • I enjoyed this more than the lamb loin and it was much richer and more flavourful being the belly.
  • It was surprisingly not fatty for being belly and much of the fat had rendered.
  • I’m quite sure it was sous vide and it was falling apart nicely.
  • The exciting part of the dish was the puree and the rest was more common although still good.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (27)Duck4/6 (Very good)

  • Potato, Chard, Smoked Date, Duck Liver, Granola $31
  • I wasn’t going to order another duck dish, but this is incomparable to the basteeya.
  • The duck was sous vide and roasted to a medium rare (as requested).
  • I probably should have requested this medium though because under cooked duck is safe to eat, but tends to be a bit chewy.
  • It was only duck breast and I was hoping for duck leg, but I think that was used all for the basteeya.
  • Again the meat wasn’t spiced with obvious Moroccan flavours and it was quite as is like the lamb.
  • It was still good quality duck and the fat was incredibly well rendered and almost completely gone.
  • Fat is flavour, but it can be excessive on duck and in this case it was actually cut off and used in the granola. It was confit granola.
  • The granola was savoury and meaty and it tasted like it was made with hemp seeds, toasted rye crumbs, pumpkin seeds, and ground cornflakes.
  • I’m sure there were no cornflakes, but it tasted like it.
  • There was some ground pistachio too, but not much and overall it tasted very seedy and breadcrumb like in texture.
  • It was very lightly sweetened, savoury and subtly spicy granola.
  • It was not really sweet or savoury enough though and it could have been more of both.
  • I could have used more granola for the amount of duck and potatoes too. It was good for texture, but the flavour was okay.
  • There was a very small amount of smoked date puree which was the sweet condiment for the duck, but again I needed more.
  • There was no jus or demi glace or sauce for the duck so it really relied on the date puree, or it got a bit regular.
  • The duck liver puree was also on the shy side, but I loved it! Foie gras is banned in California, so this had to do.
  • The puree was extremely savoury, rich and creamy and it was delicious with the duck and potatoes.
  • The confit potatoes were unassuming and they were better than they looked. They looked good too.
  • They were buttery throughout, a bit smoky, and very meaty in flavour.
  • They were ultra tender and creamy and could have been sous vide before being char grilled.
  • The flesh was waxy instead of starchy and they were excellent potatoes.
  • The swiss chard did not seem very pickled, but they were supposed to be the acid and vegetable to balance the rich potatoes.
  • There were not many strong flavours or spices and I’m not sure if I got the Moroccan theme.
  • This would be nice with apricots too because duck and apricots is quite common in Moroccan cooking.
  • The date puree, duck liver and granola were the creative and inspired components of the dish, and I could have used more of each.
  • It was a bit of a “meat and potatoes” dish, but the meat and potatoes were very good!

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (35)When I saw this dessert I thought it was missing a centrepiece.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (36)Black Currant Curd4/6 (Very good)

  • Vanilla, Fennel Meringue, Almond-Hazelnut Sable $10
  • The presentation was different, but it worked.
  • It was almost like a verrine, but plated in a circular manner and I think it was meant to be eaten in teaspoon sized bites.
  • I felt like I was eating a bunch of sauces and garnishes, but each one was well made and worthy of attention.
  • It was best enjoyed with every component in one bite, so the meticulous dollops of alternating black currant curd and vanilla cream worked.
  • The black currant curd tasted like ribena and it was tart and sweet.
  • The vanilla cream could have used some vanilla bean, but it was an aromatic component which tied all the flavours together.
  • The crispy and airy light fennel meringue pieces were great for texture, but it was very mild in fennel flavour until I ate it with the custards.
  • The fruity curd and floral cream really brought out the fennel flavour and I could have even used a touch of salt.
  • The almond-hazelnut sable crumbs added another layer of nutty texture, but I wanted a bit more of a coarser crumb with crunchy nuts.
  • Since the dessert had no main I wanted the crumb to be more like a crumble to give it more substance.
  • It was a very fine and delicate dessert, which was slightly sweet for me, but it was still very good.
  • A cake or fruit to eat with the curds and sauces would be nice, but for what it was, it was balanced.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (30)This is the dessert before the server poured hibiscus consommé over it.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (32)**Almond-Honey Semifreddo5.5/6 (Excellent!)

  • Rhubarb, Hibiscus $10
  • I love ice cream like desserts, so naturally I knew I would like this, however it was also just a stunning semifreddo.
  • The colours and disco ball presentation were very retro.
  • I loved how it showcased Pastry Chef Melissa’s diverse styles of presentation, yet it was still her.
  • It had texture, flavour, and complexity without being too much and it felt like a complete dessert.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (37)

  • The almond-honey semifreddo (semi-frozen mousse/ice cream) bomb was not too sweet and very fragrant.
  • The floral almond cream base tasted like it was infused with rose water and saffron.
  • I couldn’t taste premium quality honey bee farm honey flavour, so I missed that, but it was still good.
  • It reminded me of akbar mashti (Persian saffron ice cream) and it played into the Moroccan theme.
  • The centre was an icy rhubarb sorbet and the tartness contrasted the sweeter and creamier semifreddo.
  • The base of the semifreddo had an almond cake layer which I loved with the frozen cream and it absorbed the hibiscus consommé.
  • The hibiscus consommé was very tart and syrupy sweet so I could have used a bit less, but it was good.
  • The white chocolate feuillantine pieces crusted around the semifreddo were my favourite component.
  • They were crispy and sweet and almost like a wafer and it added excellent texture to the semifreddo.
  • It was a semifreddo meets a modern day ice cream cake/sundae and it was well thought out and creative.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (33)Green Tea Cake5/6 (Excellent)

  • English Pea Mousse, Cherry, Gingersnap $10
  • This dessert sounded most adventurous, creative, and out of the ordinary.
  • It was a savory sweet dessert but still sweet enough to be a dessert.
  • Again Pastry Chef Melissa showcased versatility in plating while remaining true to her own style. I really appreciated that.
  • It reminded me of Christmas and gingerbread and it seemed like an eclectic twist to a Black Forest cake (chocolate and cherries).
  • The green tea sponge cake pieces could have been aerated and steamed, but it wasn’t as obvious in the texture if it was.
  • It was still a light and fluffy cake, but it was slightly on the dry side.
  • The matcha powder was really dominant and strong, but it was more Japanese.
  • I kind of wish it was mint and matcha or Moroccan tea flavoured cake to suit the Moroccan theme better.
  • The English pea mousse was naturally sweet, but a bit starchy in texture in the mouthfeel.
  • It was an interesting flavour combination with the matcha cake, but it worked.
  • The gingersnap crumbs were really obvious with real ginger, molasses and warm spices of cinnamon and cloves.
  • It tasted like gingerbread and there was a mild heat from the ginger, but it was not spicy.
  • Gingerbread and matcha have earthy and aromatic flavour profiles and they complemented each other.
  • The sour cherries were limited, but I liked their tart and juicy contrast to everything else. It brightened up the dessert.
  • I would have loved more crispy and crunchy textures and perhaps some freeze dried peas or even pistachios.
  • It was a dessert I wanted to share and it was fun to try, but I wouldn’t necessarily crave it although I found it inspiring.

San Francisco - Aziza Mourad Moroccan (38)Petit Fours included Milk Chocolate Peanut Brittle and Baharat & Pomegranate Pâtes de Fruits. Complimentary Aziza Granola is also given to each customer which was an appreciated gesture. It was Moroccan spiced with flavours of orange and cardamom and it would go excellent with thick yogurt.

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