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Want a 'surprisingly good' Shawarma in Richmond Hill? - Give 'Rifca's Mediterranean Kitchen' a try!

Charles Yu Jul 14, 2011 06:39 PM

Although I live way up north, however, for a great Sharwarma, I do not mind making the long drive down to 'Sharwarma Alley' aka Lawrence East for some. For a while, I've been hoping that someone could open up a decent joint in Richmond Hill, closer to home. Guess my wish has been answered!

This evening, whilst driving north on Yonge, past Hwy #7, I noticed at the corner of my eye, this tiny eatery inside one of many strip plazas in the area. The name clicked immediately since I recalled watching it on Restaurant Makeover a few days ago! Out of curiosity, I decided to give it a try.

It was a great impromptu decision!! I ordered a Beef Sharwarma pita sandwich, with all the trimmings, to go. At $6.49, the sandwich was HUGE!!! The meat was nicely marinated and flavourful. The condiments and sauces were very generous and delicious. Very good hot sauce! The sandwich was finished off in a grill so the pita bread was piping hot and crisp! All in all I was very satisfied with the product! I noticed they have ' Lamb Kebab ' on the black board as well. So, this will be the target for my next visit!

Guess this is one of those place that undergoes Restaurant Makeover due to the place and not the food! If they manage to maintain the standard of the food, they should survive!

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  1. mrsleny RE: Charles Yu Jul 14, 2011 09:35 PM

    Thanks for the review!

    We used to go when it was the Pita Stop and loved their sharwarma and falafels. I'm not sure if it is the same owners. Even so, glad to hear they are not suffering from the Restaurant Makeover curse like other Richmond Hill restaurants.

    Golden Flame = closed
    Holllywood Panini = now Greek Xpress
    Tresca Trattoria = now Bathurst St Deli

    Golden Flame Restaurant
    , Thornhill, ON L3T, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: mrsleny
      Charles Yu RE: mrsleny Jul 15, 2011 05:41 AM

      You are right!! Cannot recall a single establishment that enjoyed success AFTER a makeover!!

      1. re: mrsleny
        Davwud RE: mrsleny Jul 15, 2011 05:48 AM

        I think people get RM done to spruce up the place so they can then sell it. It really does seem to be a kiss of death.


      2. vil RE: Charles Yu Jul 15, 2011 09:41 AM

        Thanks, it is always good to know about one more place to get a bite when in the area.

        Do you recall if they have shawarma that has lamb too?

        2 Replies
        1. re: vil
          Charles Yu RE: vil Jul 15, 2011 03:21 PM

          Unfortunately, NO!
          Guess for lamb, one still needs to drive down to Fahrat at Lawrence...or similar!

          1. re: Charles Yu
            vil RE: Charles Yu Jul 16, 2011 09:27 PM

            That is unfortunate! It still sounds like the place is still worth trying, though.

        2. m
          ManAbout RE: Charles Yu Jul 17, 2011 10:21 AM

          NO. I have tried this place. It's garbage. Went there once, will never go back. Dried chicken in a stale pita is not my idea of "surprisingly good shwarma". They have a poor choice of toppings as well, nowhere near what you would get one of the better shwarma places.

          I am amazed that somebody would call the crap I ate over there, good shwarma,

          The shwarma at Sababa on Steeles is much better. Not Richmond Hill, but not too far either. Or try Meron on Disera, near Promenade mall.

          390 Steeles W, Thornhill, ON L4J6X6, CA

          5 Replies
          1. re: ManAbout
            Charles Yu RE: ManAbout Jul 17, 2011 01:50 PM

            Most intersting comment from you ManAbout!! Reading that put a big ?? about my palette!! Oooops!!
            When was your visit? Sounded like our experiences came from two different places?! BTW, my son just had the chicken two days ago and it was OK!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              ManAbout RE: Charles Yu Jul 18, 2011 12:19 PM

              Visited once. About 2 or 3 months ago. There were three of us. The toppings looked pretty sad, like they had been there for a while. Not fresh looking at all and with nowhere near the variety you have at other places. The chicken shawarma itself was dry and skimpy on the chicken.

              I had a shawarma from Paramount a couple of days ago, it was much better. The place was packed. I went to the Paramount in front of the Eaton Centre. But, they also have a location around Yonge and Clark. Not far from Rifca. You are much better off going there or to one of the Israeli places. Rifca is NOT an option for shawarma in the area. Don't waste your money. It's garbage.

              1. re: ManAbout
                Charles Yu RE: ManAbout Jul 18, 2011 05:21 PM

                I just came back from Rifca! After reading your posting, I specifically ordered their Chicken Shawarma just to compare and confirm. ?????? My offeriing has none of the nasty things you mentioned above?!! Pita bread was fresh and soft. Chicken was nicely seasoned with the shaved meat crispy outside and moist inside. Toppings selection was quite varied, in fact I would say their choices are more than most places. I've eaten at Sababa, Paramount and a number of places along Lawrence east. IMHO, the quality of Rifca is at par with most of them! May be they made a huge 180 degree turn around in the past couple of months?!

                390 Steeles W, Thornhill, ON L4J6X6, CA

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  ragged25 RE: Charles Yu May 17, 2012 06:27 AM

                  Having just seen the Avengers and Ironman's suggestion of wanting to try a shawarma, I just had to get myself one today. I decided to give RIfca a try and my overall impression is it's pretty enjoyable. I'm no Shawarma expert, but the chicken shawarma was huge and loaded with fresh toppings. The fininsh on the shawarma press gave it a nice crispy finish.

                  The beef shawarma dinner was also pretty good and the beef was well flavoured. Some pieces were a little tougher than others, I wonder if I can ask them to not cook it on the grill for that long next time?
                  I went around 6:30 and the place was totally packed. The cook/owners seem like decent people as one lady ahead of me forgot her wallet and they had no problem letting her walk out with the food with the promise of repayment at a later date. Seems like they do have a lot of regulars that go to Rifca.

                  I would be back if I have the craving for a shawarma!

                  1. re: ragged25
                    OTFOODIE RE: ragged25 May 20, 2012 08:00 AM

                    I also went recently a couple of times - once to try the falafel and once to try the Beef Shawarma.

                    The first time I had the shawarma. The meat was nicely spiced and the fillings fresh, but the meat was poorly cut. I think cutting shawarma/gyro meat is an art or skill that is often overlooked. It takes skill and practice (and a sharp enough knife) to be able to shave off the cooked meat in small enough pieces. At Rifca, and other places as well, they just hack it of and chop and finish it on the griddle - with substandard results. I wish shawarma places would invest in those power meat shavers if they won't master the art of cutting shawarma meat.

                    A couple of days later, I was in the area and wanted a quick lunch. I really enjoyed the falafel: crisp on the outside do to the finishing on the press and nicely seasoned falafel balls although I would have preferred a better crust on them. Hummus and tabouleh were available (+) but for an extra charge (-).

                    Yonge Street north of Steeles is a bit of a quick food wasteland. I'm not sure if Rifca adds significantly to the landscape.

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