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Mar 25, 2009 10:26 PM

SF: The doner kabob krawl gyro-ates - Old Jerusalem

I don't know if Old Jerusalem has some good dishes, but I do know the gyro isn't one of them.

I had (take-out)

- #2 Shawerma Sandwich
Beef and lamb marinated in spices with tahini sauce, hummus, eggplant, potato, salad and lettuce $7.50
- #Ful (fava beans)
fava beans mashed then poured into a dip with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil

There were three nice warm, thick pieces of pita with the ful which is sometimes spelled foul.I've seen foul on menus from time to time and the reason I never ordered it because I always imaginged it would taste like this ... BORING.

It was sprinked with some fresh chopped green herb maybe parsley, and tasted like little more than mashed dried beans ... except for occasional alarming sour bites ... which to may relief when I looked at the menu turned out to be lemon juice ... I hope. No garlic that I could detect. The tiny bit of olive oil didn't do much for it.

It was nothing like the wonder-ful dish at Zaki's in Albany.

And talking about foul ... it was that gyro ... and I mean that with the American definition of that word.

The ONLY reason I went here was the promise on the menu of hummus, eggplant, potato and potato in the sandwich. None. Nada. Zip.

I took a bite of this just after I ordered it and was appalled. The wrap tasted stale, the meat was like leather. Even just-made, the lettuce was slimy. Not seeing the promised potatoes, I figured they were just further down in the gyro. I had trouble getting back to this and it sat in the fridge overnight ... which actually helped this thing. Either I just got a few bum pieces of meat or the tahini sauce re-hydrated the meat. Sitting overnight took the edge off the wrap.

Still, no evidence of potatoes. I finally rip it apart ... NO hummus, eggplant or potato. Just meat, too much tahini, now slimier-lettuce, chopped cucumber and a few guest appearances of chopped, tasteless tomato.

On the positive, the meat was nicely marinated and didn't seem like the pre-fab stuff some places sell. It did have a little gristle here and there, but not much. This might be good if ordered as a plate rather than a wrap.

While I was waiting, I noticed the table in front had left half of the wrap. I followed a similar pattern of extracting the meat and tossing the rest.

It is a nice enough looking restaurant, tiny with colorul murals on the walls an ceiling. The staff is pleasant. However, it would take a lot to get me to go back.

Old Jerusalem
2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. A cab driver highly recommended this place for a traditional lamb dish with rice. I can't recall the name though. Sorry to hear the gyro was not up to par.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DezzerSF

      Mansef is the name of the dish I couldn't remember, but the kitchen said they couldn't make it and it seemed they don't serve it any longer, despite the online menu listing it as a Saturday special.

      I can recommend the Mousakhan - "Savory Palestinian dish of oven roasted half chicken atop freshly baked Arab flatbread served with lots of sweet onions, toasted pine nuts, and deep red sumac." The chicken was nicely roasted with a complex spice rub on the skin. The dark meat was perfect, very juicy, but the breast meat a tad dry. The flatbread was a golden color, with some olive oil and other tasty spices. I loved the crispy middle of the flatbread and really enjoyed the bits of sweet onion, which balanced the richness of the chicken.

      I also liked the falafels, which had a crispy browned shell, but still moist inside. You get 6 to the order at $3. Their garlic yogurt sauce is very tasty. Thin pita bread is served warm in a basket, and refilled.

      The only downer was my friend's Combination Kabab plate, which were mostly dry cubes of meat. I think the lamb was the only decent selection on his plate. His hummus was good though.

      I saw quite a few tables having shawermas though, but noticed a half uneaten as well.

      1. re: DezzerSF

        old jerusalem used to have daily specials but they discontinued them a few months ago. i'm sure it was due to lack of interest. it's too bad, since i can't think of another place that serves them. i can't remember the name, but there was a lamb and white bean stew that i used to order. it's gone, too. i still like their stuffed falafels (pine nuts and caramelized onions).

    2. I went two years ago and had a "just OK" shawarma (probably not as bad as yours). The service was distinctly not very interested especially when it was time to bring a menu or check. I saw no reason to go back.