Our Story


How it all started

A passion for Mediterranean food brought Ali, Hasan, Sean, Nawar and Ibrahim together, and they hope to unite others through the exceptional flavors at Simsim. Meaning “sesame” in Arabic, Simsim’s menu pays tribute to the dishes its founders grew up eating, and, fittingly, the concept all grew from a tiny seed of an idea.

Dissatisfied by the Mediterranean themed cuisine they’d tried in the US, brothers Ali and Hasan AlMatrouk sat down over coffee and began to brainstorm ways they could bring culinary classics of the region to the United States and beyond. They eventually decided that creating the perfect concept was going to be the main focus. While the finer details still needed working out, they knew straight away that Sean Zanganeh, a long-time trusted friend from college, and Nawar Miri, Sean’s brother-in-law, would be an essential pair to bring real estate and hospitality expertise to the concept – with formidable educational backgrounds and business experience, both had unparalleled exposure to the kinds of successful projects the AlMatrouk brothers hoped Simsim would become, and it was a no-brainer that they would be key players in development.

In fact, Nawar is now the President/CEO at the helm of the project; his fondness for the food industry started young with exposure at the family level, and he continued to expand his knowledge in adulthood through a combination of formal schooling and apprenticeships under top industry executives, leaving him more than equipped to oversee scaling and operations at Simsim.

With the business end sorted, now all they needed to do was find a world-class chef with the ability to create mind-blowing shawarma. The search proved as daunting as you’d imagine, and they went through many unsuccessful meetings and tastings – they just couldn’t find the top-notch standard of cooking they were looking for, and they refused to settle for anything less. Then, serendipitously, Chef Ibrahim AlSharief entered the picture after a chance meeting with Ali and Hasan’s father, Aslan. With a career spanning twenty years including roles as an Executive Chef for 5-star hotels throughout the world, Ibrahim was a culinary force who was clearly passionate about the art of cooking. Recognizing Ibrahim’s sheer talent, Aslan immediately got his sons on the phone and told them that this was their guy.

And after tasting his extraordinary food, the brothers knew their dad was right- they needed Ibrahim’s culinary genius to make the Simsim family complete.

Fortunately, he was up for the challenge of building the concept from scratch, and he agreed to pack up his life in Jordan to move to the United States to make it happen. And so the dream eventually became a reality – now open in its first brick and mortar in California, Simsim reflects the values and ideals of its founders by taking authentic, traditional dishes to innovative and modern new heights. The result is a next-level dining experience that patrons won’t soon forget. The team hopes to expand so that even more people are able to come together over a superior Mediterranean experience, but for now, stop by the next time you’re in San Diego and say hello!