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Jun 18, 2012 09:39 PM

Chowfind: Al Tanoor Lawrece East -Shawarma

Al Tanoor
1903 Lawrence East
Across from where Nasr used to be (Westney?)
Settled down a lot since first opened

I stopped in for their shawarma special , $2.99. What the heck, lets try. Asked for the chicken. It was the best shawarma that I have ever had, perhaps the lamb ones in Turkey were on a par.
Beautifully flavoured with spice that I think is their own mixture, not out of the can ( which is pretty good), generous amount of chicken. The bread wrapper was a house made bun, "shamoun" (?. , shape like a Portuguese bun) . The sandwich was delicious. '"Worth a detour."

I also had a kibbe, $1.00, the white one . Delicious, again beautifully spiced.

I decided, lets try the beef schawarma. Delicious , but I liked the chicken better because all the flavours could play themselves out easier against the lighter tasting meat.

I asked for more salad and the server had to be encouraged. I think that it is not in the tradition to put a lot of salad in. It is meat that is expensive and therefore desirable , not salads. But I like salads a lot. So you too ask for more if you want..

I even tried the curry sauce , "amba" . I thought this delicious, even though I don't like curry.. Gentle and complex. I am told house made from scratch. I was right in thinking that Israeli amba is disgusting.

The falafel were indifferent.

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  1. Thanks Vin. I've seen it and wondered how good it was. I'll have to give it a whirl.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Sounds great!

      Do you know if they accept debit or credit?

      edit: directed to OP, not Davwud

      1. re: magic

        Call. Several of the staff speak good English.
        Forgot to mention. They will toast the bun as a matter of routine. Decline. Toasting is a good idea if the bread is no good or stale. Here it the bread is good and toasting detracts.

        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

          Thanks for the heads up. I looked up for Iraqui bread on the old google, and it's called Samoon. Looks really good. Will try this out next time I'm in the area.

    2. Thanks for this. Last year I did a quick chow tour of several shwarma places along "Lawrence of Arabia" and was impressed by quality and value. I will add this to the list next time I'm in your fair city.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gourmaniac

        Ibrahim on the corner has gone downhill. Still a good workman like sandwich, but has lost much of its character and charm- a Canadian worker!

      2. Hello VV,
        You mentioned Beef and Chicken. Do they by chance also have 'Lamb'?!
        How does the food compare with 'Farat' when it was at its prime?!

        9 Replies
        1. re: Charles Yu

          The don't have "lamb". Go to Turkey.
          I never knew Farhat to have had a "prime".
          As in any place where the kitchen really cooks, there is variation. Different cook, bread on a humid day.
          The stuffed grape leaves- three for a dollar were good- biladi.

          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

            Rifca has lamb and is closer than Turkey!!
            Before Fahrat renovated, there was a period whence they displayed all their herbs and spices in jars on the counter. That was the time when their food was really good and the meat nicely seasoned and marinated!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              I'm with you, Charles. Farhat's lamb shawarma was my fave, but those days are behind us.

              I've not tried Al Tanoor, but all the other spots have been leaving me a bit cold, since.
              Ibrahim probably the best of the bunch for me, but pedestrian and I like lots of parsley and they pre-mix the toppings, so you can't add more of just one.
              Empire is yummy, but the unusually intense sauce detracts from the sandwich for me, rather than adds. Ali Baba was fine, but overcook the meat, Paramount was also fine, but nothing special (but I do love their kofta).

              So, now I've just looked up Rifca, and I'll be going, and maybe I'l check out the little joint on Kennedy Rd at Ellesmere that I pass often but have never tried :-)

              I'll report back, and let me know if anyone else has juicy lamb shawarma or gyros that I'm missing :-)

              1. re: TorontoTips

                Last time I went to Rifca ( 2 days ago ), they only have chicken and beef but no lamb. Settled for a lamb kebob pita sandwich instead! Asked them for medium rare or else they'll cook the meat through!

                1. re: TorontoTips

                  Farhat's "lamb" shawarma is probably veal with some layers of lamb flap - the ovine equivant of bacon - interspread. The meat tasted heavily sour form the marinade. .I left teh sandwich au naturel 0 no sauces-. The sandwich was OK, good value, but not worth the stop when there are places that have a bit of verve nearby.

                  I just got back from Al Tanoor and had a baklava in my takeout bag. Refined, delcate,exquiste. So good that one satiated. How often does one need to listen to Horowitz's recording in Moscow?

                  Also noticed that I gave the wrong address previously .
                  It is 1993 Lawrence East (not 1903) Also it is the south east quadrant. not south -west. Sorry.

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                    You were right the first time: South West of Warden and Lawrence.


                    1. re: stv

                      I got mixed up between Victoria Pak and Warden. But that's where it is, between the two, on the south side

                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                        Vinnie,Haven't been to Farhat in over a year,not sure how things have changed here...but it was the beef that was always really sour..almost to a point sometimes it seemed like it was pickled....
                        the lamb at that time used to be decent....
                        Got to try Al Tanoor next time I have a craving for Shawarma

            2. re: Charles Yu

              No but they use lamb fat to keep the beef moist while on the spit.

            3. I think this place is pretty good, high quality shawarma. Its definatley worth trying, they had like a mango chutney she suggested for the beef sandwich, I though it was alright, a bit different

              I still prefer Ibrahim - the main difference is Ibrahim, the meat seems a little juicier, and the toum (garlic sauce) at Ibrahim is miles ahead of any shawarma place.

              1. Great rec! Delicious! Really enjoyed it.

                Originally set out for Shawarma Empire but they were closing up (at 9 pm!!). I was a bit bummed but then I remembered this rec was just down the street. So I gave them a try. Glad I did.

                I had a chicken shawarma. Wonderful. That fresh baked samoon. Wow. Man, that totally is something different and fantastic. The chicken had great flavour as did the toppings. Very fresh. I love how everything is mixed together carefully, as with many other Lawrence spots, so you're eating each of the fillings in one bite.

                And for $2.99 what a deal! They aren't small at all. I would say each one is bigger than SE's, as a comparison. I have a very healthy appetite and one was perfect even for me. So $2.99 for a fresh, homemade meal. I can roll with that.

                My friend had the beef shawarma. I was a bit reluctant to order it as it was the end of the night and it was towards the end of the spit - it frankly was not looking great, it looked dry. Boy was I wrong. Despite it's appearance it was not at all dry and had wonderful flavour.

                Man, those house-made samoons just pulled it all together. Great, light sauces too.

                Owners are so sweet. Loved them. Take such pride in their food.

                Will be going back, thanks. And yes, they do take debit and credit. Which makes me love them even more.

                6 Replies
                1. re: magic

                  I'm trying to find Al Tanoor on Google streetview. Is it in the same strip mall as Shawarma Empire ?

                    1. re: skinnychick

                      it's the southwest corner of warden and lawrence. in the plaza right beside PAT supermarket.

                      1. re: skinnychick

                        South west quadrant of Warden and Lawrence, but not corner. Quite a bit further east . Just east of Westney, which runs south only from Lawrence, south side, across the street from the big Wadi grocery supermarket.
                        It is a few doors away from the PAT supermarket.

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                          For compulsive online mappers i nneed of the address ... 1993 Lawrence Avenue East. The PAT reference saved me when I was looking at the numbers!

                        2. re: skinnychick

                          No but VERY close.

                          A 2 minute walk from SE. If that.