Name: Couscous Rougir / クスクス・ルージール
Neighborhood: Shimokitazawa / 下北沢
Style: Mediterranean Country French
There used to be an awesome place in Shimokitazawa called Big Chief which was a cajun restaurant. To tell you the truth, the cajun food wasn't great, but the place was awesome; it was a locals hangout where you could swill a few beers and catch up on the latest that was happening around town. Almost every time I went in there I saw some of the same people (some of whom owned other restaurants around the 'hood) and hung out too long.
Unfortunately for us but happily for them, the proprietors of Big Chief decided to pack it in and move to Okinawa. Can't argue with that lifestyle choice, but it left a void in the local scene.
The only good thing to come out of the whole episode is that the space where Big Chief used to be was taken over by Couscous Rougir. This delightful place, while not as homey as Big Chief, serves awesome Mediterranean/Country French food, in particular couscous-based stews, and is currently one of the highest-rated places in Shimokitazawa on tabelog despite being only a few months old.
The staff is a grand total of two people, and they're kept pretty busy even though there's only 18 seats in the shop. There's a nice French wine list including about 5 reds and 5 whites by the glass, ranging from 900 to 1400 yen; and one chalkboard each describing the appetizers, desserts, and the main event, the couscous-based stews.
The stews each come in three parts: a bowl of extremely light and fluffy couscous; an iron pot fresh off the stove with a tomato-based stew as well as whatever main ingredient you picked; and a small dish of extremely spicy sauce which you can apply to taste. To eat, you put some of the couscous down in your plate, dollop the stew over the top, add spicy sauce to taste (I used all of it), and let it soak for a minute before spooning it (rapidly) into your mouth.
They're all available in 1-, 2-, or 3-person sizes and the night I was there the main ingredients offered a choice of beef, chicken, fish, or, as the server recommended and I chose, lamb. The lamb was deliciously broiled to medium rare perfection before being added to the stew, so this is no boiled-to-death version of meat. Depending on ingredient and size the stews range from 1400 to 3000 yen and are a fantastic value.
The appetizers I tried were good although for the appetizers the quantity of food is more along the lines of a kaiseki restaurant than country french. There was a daily special of ebi baked in bread, and I also got a yummy Moroccan salad with a mildly spicy dressing.
Big two thumbs up for Couscous Rougir. Don't miss the stews. By the way, the tabelog entry for Cousocus Rougir somehow says this place costs 8000-9000 yen per person for dinner; that's simply wrong by about a factor of two, even including a glass of wine or dessert.