Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro San Diego
I went to this 2 month old restaurant last night. What an enjoyable experience. They are located under Martini's on Fourth on fourth avenue in Hillcrest. Of course I don't remember what was there before but the chef/owner Moumen did an excellent job transforming the place. We felt very welcomed. Moumen came to the table to explain the menu. All the dishes we ordered were good and some were great. The roasted eggplant as well as the lamb shank shouldn't be missed. I will be going back very soon.
I went back here for the third time last night and it was fantastic, the best visit yet. You can tell there was a lot of care put into the food, attention to detail being evident. This is nice to see in a city where the food scene can sometimes be cynical and lazy, especially at the middle price range. I grew up eating North African food so finding a place that does it right is a real joy to me. Also enjoyed the lack of kitsch found too often in Moroccan restaurants distracting from the food: no belly dancers or sitting on the floor, just North African decor and music applied with a light touch.
We shared several dishes so I got a pretty good sampling last night (I've been before and had other things but I'll only review what I ate last night). Opened with a vegetable platter consisting of three "spreads": caramelized carrots, roasted eggplants, and shak-shouka, a roasted tomato/pepper combo. All delicious, and I even enjoyed the eggplant which I don't typically like. Next was the b'stila, a savory/sweet pastry consisting of chicken (traditionally squab), with almonds, honey, and cinnamon in phyllo dough. Possibly the best dish there, perfectly balanced between the meat and the sweet. They make it as an individual rolled pastry, instead of the traditional pie form.
For mains we had the chicken and lamb tagines, which I was pleasantly surprised to find were bigger than they have been in the past. The chicken seemed to be a djej m'qalli, which is a braise with preserved lemons and olives, tasty. The lamb shank was succulent, rich, and sweet, with prunes, dates, and honey. Gamey tasting in a good way and very soft. Each one was served with the same sides: couscous, properly steamed slowly in a couscoussier (i.e. not simply mixed with boiling water for "instant preparation"), fluffy and light; raisins and chickpeas, most likely sauteed and given a light braise in stock, a terrific preparation my family makes but I almost never find at restaurants; and peas and green beans.
Finally came dessert, which was a vanilla bean custard with orange blossom, a delicious if not very Moroccan dessert, and a selection of Moroccan cookies with mint tea. Those cookies are mostly almond-based and I don't particularly care for them in general, but they were made fine for what they were. The tea made a nice close to the evening. Service was attentive but not overbearing; dishes were brought out promptly, our glasses were constantly refilled, and when we were busy talking the waiter didn't bother us. Really not an off-note the whole night. I definitely hope those who haven't checked out this gem make the trek soon.
Let's dig this one out of the cold case file for an update.
Just finished a great late dinner. I was more than pleased with my meal, the good service, and the nice atmosphere. Would you believe I had dinner in...dare I say it...Hillcrest?
Apparently in business for the last three years, yet I've been ignorant of it's presence this whole time. A little hard to see (below street level), but certainly worth it. The place would be a great recommendation for that kid (I know he wanted an ocean view but...) who wanted something romantic, but eating here later in the evening would certainly help accomplish the eventual goal of romantic dining.
Nice wines (not the same for beer, but wine is a more fitting choice for this kind of food), and was even able to pull off the guilty pleasure of a glass of cheap tempranillo mixed with pepsi- goes great with lamb. They do away with the gimmick of "tagine" serving pieces and serve that part of the menu on regular plates- and do without the typical belly-dancing fandango, which always makes me feel as if I'm at a dinner theater (my personal nightmare- last time it happened was when I was six and I still talk to my shrink about it). I'm pretty sure they cook their couscous the proper way (taught to me by my bro's French-Tunisian wife)- first barely moistened with hot vegetable broth, then steamed slowly in a couscousier- for tender but fluffy texture. A shared tagine entree and a few tapas make a perfect meal for two.
Perhaps the post above mine overdoes it a bit, but it has very reasonable prices, solid food, is clean, and certainly has an un-prententious cool that I was certain didn't exist anywhere in this neighborhood. Dig it.
(caviat: the website is way tackier than the place itself)
I must start by saying: Don't delay, go to Kous Kous today!! This unique restaurant is not to be missed and it is tucked away in the wonderful Hillcrest neighborhood. I visited San Diego this summer and Kous Kous was a real highlight- I even ate their twice in my 4 day visit! Certainly my favorite restaurant in North America.
The first thing that you think when you walk down the outdoor stairs and into the restaurant is: have I just changed continents? The restaurant is supremely well-decorated, with Moroccan treasures brought from Marrakesh just for this restaurant. There is a great little lounge where you can have a drink and appetizers – or sit at the rich wooden bar and try the Sangria or one of the house wines. The tables are varied and unique- you can tuck yourself and a date away in a cozy and romantic corner, or sit at one of the tables in the middle. If you do have a date tonight, take them to Kous Kous- reasonably priced and incredibly special, this will make a good impression on everyone lucky enough to dine here. The restaurant is small and not nearly as busy as it should be (hint, hint San Diego) The menu is the right length and you can’t go wrong with any of the choices- each dish is special and you will have to go back time and time again to try new dishes and retry your favorites! Each course is special and dessert is not to be missed. I am a vegetarian and there were ample choices, all accompanied with wonderful cous cous. The meat dishes drew great reviews from my friend and those around me: “You’ve never tasted lamb like this” and “wow, how did they make this chicken, it is unbelievable!”
Owner/Chef Moumen Nouri (who will be your newest friend by the time you enter and one of your greatest friends by the time you eat) and his wonderful staff make the whole experience peaceful, enjoyable and undeniably delicious.
Short of trying to convince Moumen to come to Colorado and open a Kous Kous here, I will have to return to San Diego soon just to eat at California’s best restaurant. I tell friends to visit San Diego for Kous Kous and your wonderful zoo. Please don’t let this local treasure go untasted!!
We really liked it there, they were friendly, I loved the appetizers, we have had the mixed one several times and really loved all the carrot and tomato dishes and olives with pita. Everyone loved all the dishes both times. We didnt try desert, but the choices didnt really appeal somehow. I'd highly recommend it, I hope they make a go of it! Oh and love that they dont have a belly dancer. Not my thing!
Eating at Kous Kous was a lot of fun. The decor is beautiful, the service is friendly and it's nice that you aren't forced to pay for a whole course dinner. That said, I've had more flavorful Moroccan food in my past experiences. I felt that the food needed more of a kick. It would be a good introduction for someone who has never eaten Moroccan.
Went there a couple weeks ago and had a great experience. The service is warm and friendly. The food was perfectly spiced and delicious. I got a lamb couscous and my husband ordered a beef tagine. We got a Moroccan wine to keep with the theme. The owner/chef came out and chatted with us, a nice touch. I highly recommend KousKous and I wish them much success!
I was very impressed by this place, the quality of its
food and service. The owner Moumen has introduced a
new and unique concept of Moroccan restaurant. I am
glad this place is not about a forced 5 course meal
that you have to eat with your fingers while a belly
dancer is trying to entertain you but can't get your
full attention because you are busy "EATING".
This restaurant is highly recommended.
I went in shortly after they opened just to check out their menu. The woman who runs the place was very friendly. The menu when I stopped by was not huge - typical tangine dishes and small plates. Apparently they also make the meat in filo dish (covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon) but it hadn't made it to the printed menu yet. I'm looking forward to trying this place and hearing what others think.