July 8, 2016
By: Elliot Shirwo
Simon Elmaleh is an infinitely warm, kind and soulful man who speaks with equanimity and engenders a feeling of familial unity when you’re in his endearing presence. I speak of Chef Simon of the former restaurant in Sherman Oaks, Simon Café, which has served for many years the Sherman Oaks community with a glorious celebration for the authentic cuisine of Morocco. After a movie outing at the Arc Light theatre at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, my dad and I have had the tradition of dining at Simon Café afterwards. For as much as we relished Chef Simon’s genuinely love-crafted dishes, such as the combination appetizer of hummus, babaghanoush, roasted peppers and tomato relish, house made merguez sausages, the lamb and dried fruit chicken tagines and royale couscous to complement, we gravitated toward Chef Simon’s restaurant because he extended his place as another home for us to be together.
After watching Independence Day: Resurgence during opening weekend on June 26, 2016, my dad and I walked over to Simon Café with my sneaking premonition that the restaurant was still closed until further notice. Shockingly, the doors were open under a new name, Mizlala, and a new design. Immediately my dad and I searched for Chef Simon but to no avail. However, we did discover his son, Chef Danny Elmaleh, who has opened his sophomore self-branded restaurant in his father’s former, unassuming location after debuting at Cleo in Hollywood. Chef Danny possesses the striking humility as his father and, of course, the same extraordinary talent in the kitchen but with an innovative modern twist to the tradition. I asked Chef Danny how he came up with the name of the restaurant and he said that his father named it after a Hebrew word meaning “Pig Out.” Suffice it to say, that is exactly what my dad and I did on this first of many future visits.