Thursday, September 1, 2016

San Francisco Exotic Food Crawl Post 3: Shawarma from SF Wraps on Kearny Street

Cross-section of a shawarma


To be honest with you, the only reason I was even remotely interested to try shawarma was because of The Avenger's after-credit scene where they go have shawarma at a still functioning shawarma joint after saving New York City.

So it made sense that it would be the second food item I wanted to try on our San Francisco Exotic Food Crawl. We decided on SF Wraps on Kearny Street because it was close to the movie theater where we were going to catch a screening of Chef. You can check my review of the movie here.

After the movie, we were famished, and headed over to SF wraps to get the aforementioned shawarma. I was disappointed upon checking out the menu to find out that the ingredients for shawarma at this restaurant were hardly any different from their ingredients for gyro, which I've had before.

Shawarma is a Levantine Arab dish consisting of meat wrapped in a piece of pita bread (a kind of Arabic/Mediterranean unleavened bread). I suppose you can call shawarma the Arabic version of a Mexican burrito. I am sure the Arabic world in turn refers to burritos as the Mexican version of shawarma or some such. Such is the way humans think when we try something new; we use a familiar frame of reference to make sense of the unfamiliar. Shawarma is very similar to the Mediterranean gyro. In fact, both the words "shawarma" and "gyro" refers to the way the meat is cooked, rotated on a spit like a rotisserie. Both of us ordered the shawarma to take back to the apartment to eat.

I decided to order some falafel too since I never had those before either. Falafels are a popular Arabic street food consisting of ground chickpea and/or fava beans shaped into round patties and deep fried in batter. Being made of chickpeas and/of fava beans, they are high in protein and are often served by themselves on in a pita wrap as well. As such, they make a good alternative for vegetarians.

The portions for the shawarma were kind of generous, although it was mostly filled with assorted vegetables and there was hardly any meat in it. What meat that was in it did not seem to be all that fresh. The falafels were terrible. I am pretty sure this is not what good falafels taste like. I think they were overcooked and as a result, tasted so bitter that even dipping them in the yogurt sauce provided did little to improve the taste.

All in all though, the both of us got to try shawarma for the first time, so at least now we can proudly say that we know what shawarma is, what it looks like and what it supposedly tastes like. Hopefully we get to try better ones on a future date at a different place.

Anyway, next up, Afghanistan food from De Afghanan Kabob House in the Tenderloin!

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