Location: 2300 John Street, Thornhill
Standard disclaimer: no, Jordan’s Shawarma is not an Omani restaurant. Oman isn’t the tiniest country ever (with a population of just over four million, it’s the 125th most populous country in the world), but Omani restaurants in the GTA don’t exist. A Google search for Omani cuisine in Toronto comes up with several results about Tim Hortons opening in that country, but zero restaurants in the city.
Jordan’s Shawarma does, however, have lamb kebabs on their menu (which you can get in a rice bowl, a salad, or on fries). According to my old friend Wikipedia, the kebab is a staple in Oman, so close enough.
I got it in a rice bowl, and it was surprisingly good. It was actually extremely similar to the last thing I tried for this blog, another kebab rice plate from Royal Mezgouf. I quite enjoyed that one, but this was tastier in every regard.
The kebab itself was absolutely fantastic, with a nice lamby flavour, delicious spicing, and a good amount of exterior texture from the grill. It’s topped with the usual assortment of sauces — garlic, tahini, and hot sauce — and all three are on point. It also has a healthy dollop of some kind of tzatziki-esque yogurt sauce, which was seriously delicious.
The rice is top notch as well, as is the zesty salad.
I also tried the chicken shawarma; it wasn’t quite on the level of the kebab, but it was definitely above average, with tender, tasty meat and a decent amount of crispy bits.
Location: 217 Geary Avenue, Toronto
I wasn’t sure which country this would fall under. Parallel’s website describes itself as “Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean,” which doesn’t exactly narrow things down. I ordered shakshuka, and Wikipedia lists Libya first in the list of countries where this dish is served. So sure, Libya it is.
Parallel is a new restaurant from the people behind Ozery Bakery (which sells some good stuff, FYI). They also make and sell their own tahini, which features heavily in most of the dishes on their menu. You can see the very impressive looking machine they use to crush the sesame seeds at the back of the restaurant.
I ordered the hammshuka, which is shakshuka that’s served on a bed of freshly-made hummus.
It was very, very good. The hummus was odd; not surprisingly, the tahini flavour was front-and-centre. The lemon was almost imperceptible, and if there was any garlic at all, I couldn’t taste it. It was subtle and unlike any hummus I’ve ever had, but it grew on me.
Better was the shakshuka (which, for the initiated, is a dish in which eggs are baked in a thick tomato sauce). It had a rich, garlicky flavour, and the eggs were cooked perfectly. It was topped with a very liberal amount of good-quality extra virgin olive oil — enough to give the dish EVOO’s distinctive nutty flavour.
I ordered it with roasted eggplant (other add-ons include goat cheese and roasted peppers), which turned out to be a wise choice. The eggplant was smoky and amazing, and complimented the shakshuka perfectly.