It’s no secret that Ottawa takes pride in being the shawarma capital of the country. But now, others are taking note.
Fluto Shinzawa, who has been writing about his culinary experiences on the hockey beat, wrote in a rave review that his meal at the modest Shawarma Palace provided so much food that he didn’t even need to eat much for the rest of the day.
“The dressed-to-order salad was a crisp and light foil to the richness of the hummus. The pita bread was fresh and chewy. The potatoes dipped into the aggressive garlic sauce were excellent,” wrote Shinzawa. “And the chicken – crunchy skin on the outside, tender meat on the inside – was outstanding. At $12.95 Canadian, the chicken shawarma plate is the best bargain in the league.”
Since the article ran last week, Shinzawa says he’s had plenty of feedback from readers in Ottawa — and Toronto.
“I’ve had agreement with the former. The latter submitted their disappointment in Toronto shawarma and wished they were in Ottawa,” Fluto said in an email interview. “I’ve never had shawarma as good anywhere else. All my readers agree.”
But Shinzawa isn’t just bullish about Ottawa shawarma. The Boston writer says he always finds good food in the capital when he’s here to cover the Sens.
“I love both the spirit and food in Ottawa. I’ve never been colder in my life than during the two-minute walk from the parking lot to the arena a few years back. But Ottawa natives never seem to be down about the elements,” he said. “As for the food, I’ve been delighted with my finds: a mushroom pasta at Giovanni’s (recommended by former Bruins general manager and Ottawa native Peter Chiarelli), the apple turnovers at the French Baker, the chocolate almond croissant at the Market, or the Clover-made coffee at Bridgehead on Dalhousie, I love walking around the Market area, regardless of how cold it might be. It’s a good bet I’ll find something tasty.”
Enthusiastic regulars at Shawarma Palace were eager to tell the owner, Hanadi Dawi, about seeing the review, but for its part, the restaurant was not surprised.
“We’ve been open for a really long time and we have a great reputation,” says cashier Sarah Dawi of the family-run business. She says everything the restaurant produces is homemade, except the pickles, which are imported from Lebanon.
And the most popular shawarma? Dawi says customers agree with Shinzawa.
“They like both the beef and the chicken,” she says, “but the most popular is the chicken.”