Shawarma or Tarna in Santa Ana, Tustin, or Costa Mesa?
I could be wrong, but I've never heard of "tarna" outside the realm of Zankou Chicken and suspect it's something they made up.
Interestingly, though, I tried to make a shawarma recipe from a really good cookbook called "The Arab Table" recently and it came out much like Zankou's tarna. It was seasoned generously with what I call Christmas spices: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon—but also coriander. Now I'M getting hungry...
Elmo: your shawarma craving was contagious that I drove over to Zankou's Anaheim for a tri-tip wrap with extra tahini sauce. It totally hit the spot! worth the drive.
The tiramisu and napoleons I bought from Sarkis Pastry next door was disappointing. I should know better not to settle for anything less than Chicken Pie Shop's napoleons. It's the best in the area!!!
Zankou's was the kind of shawarma I had in mind! I love their shawarma and tarnas (more than I do their chickens). Full of flavor, a hint of spice, and those pickles!
But alas, it was too far for me (at least during work hours), so I ended up at Papa Hassan's near Old Towne Orange. Found out about the place also from Squeeze OC, thanks to you. It also got featured in OC Weekly's Grub Guide as well. I should've stuck with the other choices in your list though.
Papa Hassan's lamb shawarma was large, but was decidedly sour in flavor. Shaved from the large spit the have in constant rotation, the lamb was tender, with a little charring going on every other piece, but the tahini (or was it the yogurt sauce) they slathered on, was way too sour. Lip puckeringly sour. It tasted like I was eating a lemon shawarma.
I missed the subtle but pleasing presence of spicing that I've enjoyed with Zankou's rendition.
I think I will check out Sahara Falafel next (from the Squeeze OC article) in Anaheim's Little Gaza.
The side of rice that came with the order (which set me back $5.55 before tax) was lovely though, with the pulp of a crushed grilled tomato adding flavor.
Found this info on OCSqueeze:
SHAWARMA OUTSIDE OF LITTLE GAZA:
Rosine's Cafe— in Anaheim
Al Waha BBQ— in Garden Grove
Village Café— in Mission Viejo
Byblos Cafe— in Orange
Sassoon Chicken— in Orange
Zena's— in Orange
Sorry there's none in your target area. I'll wait for your review on the "chosen one".