SO MUCH FUN, you won’t want to leave. I’m incredibly happy that I decided to gather a couple of my friends and head down to the ShukShuka’s June popup dining experience at the Cerf Club in San Francisco.
This once a month pop-up modern middle eastern dining experience is the brainchild of owners Inon and Odai who despite their different backgrounds (Palestinian and Israeli) have formed a strong friendship and believe in the same goal of bringing food, music, and people together in harmony. What’s not to love about that? Such a simple recipe for success but so few restaurants do it with such passion and integrity as Inon and Odai.
They were quick to remind us at the beginning of the meal that they wanted all their guests to relax and have fun. And that we did!
The food was extremely fresh and flavorful and prepared by Chef, and also partner, Mona Leena (a Palestinian - American). Our meal represented the best of Middle East cuisine - from the best olives and cheese that I’ve ever tasted to the cheese centered Moroccan cigars, trio of hummus (avocado, wild mushroom and beet feta) whole roasted cauliflower, roast eggplant with pomegranate and mint, massaged kale salad, and the roast chicken on a red cabbage slaw that sent my tastebuds into orbit. Lastly finishing off with a goat cheese mousse with fresh berries and orange blossom honey. Every dish was as good as the next.
The portions of this 7-course meal were extremely generous so make sure you bring a huge appetite if you want to make it through to dessert. Or take only small bites of each course. We were beyond full and did feel a little guilty not being able to finish each course.
Throughout the evening we listened to the wonderful musician Ali Paris who plucked away at his most bizarre instrument and quickly transported our minds to lands of deserts and snake charmers with the sounds of Middle East. Starting with more hypnotic sounds and upping the tempo as the night went on.
The large family-style dining tables, personal introductions, and stories from the founders and chef and overall feeling of togetherness made this dining experience feel like a private party with 100 of your closest friends. It was just that type of event.
There is no dance floor but the atmosphere is just so fun that almost everyone found a space to dance - there was even a dabkeh happening around the tables.
At the end of the evening, the founders said they were very sorry, but it was time to end the party/say goodbye. And we knew they really did mean it. These guys would have kept the party going for sure if they had their own restaurant space.
If you love Middle Eastern food, care about eating fresh and flavorful food and love to have FUN this is your place.
It’s only once a month so grab your friends and book ahead. You will be so glad you did.
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