Shawarmaholic

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You never turn down the call of a shawarma sandwich… never… it’s an unspoken rule among Lebanese… guys and girls alike… you just don’t…

So it did sound like a good idea when we got invited to try this new venue in Byblos, shawarmaholic… the name says it all pretty much…

It was pouring heavily that day… we didn’t anticipate that, and suddenly the road to Byblos from Beirut started to feel long… and dangerous with some of those crazy lunatics on the road who thinks it’s a good idea to break speed records on the highway under a thick rain… as if we needed to give death new reasons to strike… but that’s a subject for another person… another blog… a lady who you might find yourself striding in her shoes… soon…

We got there with the help of our google map and parked just in front of the store… eyes were immediately on us from inside… two persons looking at us suspiciously… probably guilty of parking in that spot facing them… were we customers? Or were we just people stealing a parking spot to park elsewhere? We didn’t move from the car since the rain was going on even stronger and that fact alone made us look more suspicious… so I decided to increase their tension: I lowered a tiny bit the window and stuck my camera out to take a shot at the store front and their logo… that triggered an almost panic inside… one guy (as he later confessed) was taking note of the number on our plate… the car plate…

So it is with a wide smile (and less rain) that we stepped out of the car and headed towards the entrance where we were coldly welcomed until we identified ourselves as the “yummy Lebanon” crew… then… instantly we were treated as the best of their friends… Needless to say that we were hungry…

The shop was fairly neat, with several shawarma skewer hanging next to each other… the two persons who greeted us were the owners… the son and his father… both were… hmmmm how to put this… poorly dressed to run a restaurant… to my surprise… as they should be the head example for other employees to follow in term of personal hygiene, grooming and self-presentation… not to mention that they are the self-image of their restaurant… anyways… we followed them in…

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As we strolled inside the restaurant heading towards what appeared to be the manager’s office, we passed by what seemed to be a professional shawarma chef working his magic (and his long knife) along a chicken shawarma skewer… the hunger struck deep this time and Chicho and I were afraid to slip and fall on our own drool…

A huge NO SMOKING sign was hung above and behind the manager’s desk on the wall… he calmly sit underneath it, reached for a cigarette a lit it the most naturally in the world… He was the boss, he made the rules… it was his god given right by birth… smoke in his own restaurant, where smoking was forbidden to everybody else… everybody else except of course his father, who was standing next to us with a cigarette in his hand with its lit tip switch inwardly to hide it from potential customers… at least… he was making an effort to hide it…

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We looked at his menu and honestly it was very diversified and creative… they had all kind of shawarma… including salmon shawarma… alongside fish shawarma… then my heart sank… I realized that 2 of the shawarma skewers that were hanging there were the fish and the salmon… with no fire lit… just like that… left at room temperature… he would just lit the gas to prepare a sandwich upon request… with no consideration whatsoever to the safety of his clients… God only knows how long those skewers were left hanging like that… in the bacterial growth temperature danger zone (from 5°C to 75°C) knowing that fish when not frozen should be kept (if fresh) at -1°C to +1°C…

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We barely could place a word to the owner as he kept being busy with… delivery orders… he would run and wrap some sandwiches in papers, bag them and hand them to the delivery guy… or just converse with a client…a unique client since the restaurant was otherwise empty… We were almost inexistent to him… Chicho and I were looking at each other flabbergasted by the attitude… He, after all, was the one who called us to come and try his food…

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After some time, he announced he would put a small bouchée mix of his sandwiches for us to taste… and then we could order what we wanted… Good we thought… finally what we came for…

Ten minutes later, we received a plate as announced… (no not the car plate)

I have to hand it for the guy… his meat shawarma is one of the best we have ever tried… juicy… tender… well seasoned, a really good shawarma bite that suits the name of the restaurant…

The chicken wasn’t bad as well, but not a star like the meat shawarma…

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The Kofta was okay… but wait… no hommos inside the sandwich… that’s just too bad…

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The fish didn’t do it all for me… I was really reluctant to try it but my curiosity took over… anyhow… it’s a no no for me… the taste wasn’t there, the seasoning wasn’t good… not a fan…

Par contre, the Salmon shawarma was delightful… the taste and consistence were great… very good job on that one…

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Another sandwich that was delicious was the Soujoukh Shawarma… simply excellent… however it’s just a delicious soujoukh sandwich… not sure that it’s enough to put it on a shawarma skewer to call it shawarma… there was nothing new about it… just a mouthwatering regular soujoukh sandwich…

The thing that we didn’t get to try was the… ice cream shawarma… very creative idea, check the pictures to understand how it’s displayed… weird they didn’t offer us to taste… only offered to take pictures…

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We tried to give a proper feedback to our host, however, he sounded cold and busy all of a sudden and didn’t have time to sit with us… so we thanked him on the fly… and left after taking some pictures of that shawarma chef…

Once in the car… I looked at Chicho and said… ok where are we going to have lunch? We both started laughing hysterically, probably because of the tension that built up because of being so uncomfortable in that place… so down the road… on the Jounieh highway… we saw a newly opened branch of Pizza Hut… but that’s a story for the next review…  Keep in touch…

3al Sikh Ya Gaston

Shawarmaholic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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