As you may have figured out, I love shawarma. The heavily seasoned, super marinaded, rotating meat of the Middle East. It's really pretty simple, I love meat, bread, sauces, seasonings, spices and ethnic food. Which, when veggies are added, exactly what shawarma is.
It should then come as no surprised that in the Spring of 2012 I was very excited to see a little mom and pop shawarma place open out on the main drag, Yonge St. in the little town where I live.
Wahed Shawarma is a small Iraqi place in the south end of town in a little strip mall. The name translates from Arabic to mean "Unique" or, as the title of this review suggests, "Peerless." In the town of Aurora, if not York Region, that may simply be the case.
Like with all good shawarma places, pretty much all food items are made in house with the exceptions of the breads and are tasty and fresh. While the shawarma itself is not the best I've had it's certainly first rate. The Falafel is another story. It's awesome and flat out my favourite. Opinions bolstered by the many Middle Eastern people I've talked to while waiting in line. All rave about the place so don't just take it from this Canadian. Those who know, know.
One thing that they do as well that I really love is put a bowl of "croutons" on the counter for you to nibble on while you're there. Said croutons are deep fried, seasoned pieces of pita bread that are used in Fattoush. The Middle East’s version of a bread salad.
Wahed's interior is not much to look at but then again, it doesn't need to be. A gaggle of tables and chairs in a dining area that has seen better days. There's the counter/prep station just as you walk in. Requisite religious items and pictures of the homeland decorate the walls. The main kitchen is in the back corner where all the main cooking and prep work are done.
But enough with all this, let's get a look at the food.
First off let me say that the pitas they use are rather small. So if you’re a big eater, you may want to order 2. They’re a little more bready than others I’ve had. Most are pretty thin with a crispier shell while these have a bit of fluffiness to them. Inside and out. That said, they’re also among the most inexpensive shawarma.
They also serve them “clamshell” style, not “tucked and rolled.” I prefer the latter. It doesn’t affect the taste either way. Just a preference in presentation and maneuverability. After assembly they get a quick grilling in a sandwich press.
The Falafel is outstanding. Like any shawarma place worth its salt, they cook it to order. These chick pea dough balls have a nice crispy exterior (because they’re cooked to order and don't sit around steaming and getting gummy) and a fluffy interior. They have a really nice “fried” taste with a good hit of cumin and a bit of cardamom. As I said before, I’d have to say this is my favourite falafel in the GTA. I don’t do hot sauce on it though. I just don’t like it hot.
The Chicken Shawarma is also quite good. Juicy, chickeny and highly seasoned with overtones of cinnamon. They have the standard toppings and I get all of them. They have a pretty kick butt hot sauce and aren’t shy with it either. If you ask for it spicy, you get spicy. Not some hint of it that leaves you wanting more.
The Beef Shawarma is even better. Similarly spiced however the beef tends to stand up a little more than the more delicate chicken. Again, with everything and spicy is my order. I simply love it.
I must say though, these days I'm on a "Mix" roll. That is to say, I get a mixture of beef and chicken. Blended together they work well and don't fight with each other.
So there you have it folks, some great shawarma and falafel north of the city.
You can find Wahed Shawarma at 14810 Yonge St in Aurora, On.
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Oddly enough, this may be the only restaurant on the planet that isn't on the web, facebook or Twitter. It's such a hidden gem that even Urban Spoon doesn't know about it yet.
Well that's all for now folks, catch ya next time in the food court.