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Mar 1, 2014 11:38 PM

Halal food in NYC is disappointing

I loved shawarma. I probably will fall in love with it again if I ever go back to California. Nothing in New York comes close. Don't be fooled by restaurants claiming to sell shawarma (real lamb on a spit). It will most likely be some mystery meatloaf tasting meat, I believe is called the Greek gyro. The white sauce is vile, why would I want to eat watered down mayo on my rice? Halal carts seem to serve the same thing, they want to make easy money and don't care much for distinguishing themselves or making authentic middle eastern food. Sit down restaurants sell the same thing but for the double the rice and half the portions. The only place that comes close to being good is Karam but their garlic sauce is overwhelming and bitter.

The best shawarma I ever tasted was from a store/deli owned by a Lebanese couple in California. Marinated chicken or real lamb served on lavash bread and dressed with tomatoes, parsley, turnip and cucumber pickles, red onions, tahini yogurt sauce, toasted and then they give you a hot sauce and a yogurt garlic sauce on the side. Sorry New York but you don't know anything about good Middle Eastern food.

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  1. >Sorry New York but you don't know anything about good Middle Eastern food.

    Appreciate your weighing in, but your opinion might carry some weight with locals if you named the New York restaurants that disappointed (other than Karam) and explained exactly how.

    3 Replies
    1. re: squid kun

      I have tried Mamoun which was recommended to me on this very board three years ago. Needless to say it didn't live to my expectations. It was not memorable so I can't even describe why. Karam was also another recommendation and I explained why I didn't like it so much. If these two were suggested as being the best of the best why try something that is considered even worse? But I have went to places like Seaside Turkish and Sumac in Staten Island that claim they sell shawarma. Sumac gave me some cut up gyro meat (I asked for lamb shawarma on rice) on a small bed of yellow rice and charged me 10 dollars for it ugh. Also their wrap contains a massive amount of sweet white mayo sauce. Tasted more like an American fastfood chicken wrap.
      There is this place owned by a Syrian man near Karam, the shawarma wrap was salt less and dry. I forgot the name.

      1. re: Mtbdec28

        Safe to say most regulars on this board consider Mamoun far from "the best of the best."

        1. re: squid kun

          Their vegetables are never the right colors.

    2. No you don't know anything about good Middle Eastern food

      1 Reply
      1. If you are judging our middle eastern food by sampling gyros from halal carts (which are mostly mediocre), and gyro places (which are mostly mediocre), than you were either misinformed or not too knowledgeable yourself. There's a big difference between gyro and Shawarma.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ziggy41

          Obviously when I see shawarma on the menu I ask for shawarma but get gyro meat. That is my major beef basically.

        2. Halal carts are the Taco Bell of Middle Eastern food. It's silly to judge the quality of all Middle Eastern restaurants in the entire city based off cart food. I take it you haven't ventured out to the many fine NYC establishments that do serve authentic Middle Eastern food.

          1. Check out Naya Express. They make a shawarma exactly as you descibe. They're a bit too pricey (about $8.50 per sandwich) for my cheapo self, so I rarely go, but when I do, I enjoy it tremendously. It's the closest thing in NYC I've found to the awesome shawarma they have in Toronto. The only thing is that their garlic sauce is super potent, which I love and get extra of, but it may turn some people off.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Humbucker

              i saw that Naya recently opened on 56th between 5th & 6th and thought to check it out.

              1. re: coasts

                I've heard bad things about the new 56th st one. I can only vouch for the one on 3rd ave.

                1. re: Humbucker

                  Seems like a Lebanese chipotle to me. Babaganoush was good though, shawarma not so much. Not in Manhattan, but I've found no peer to Wafa's chicken shawarma.

                2. re: coasts

                  I haven't been to that location but if you go get their hummus, they make a nice silky version