Arabian nights, like Arabian days
More often than not
Are hotter than hot
In a lot of good ways
–Arabian Nights/Opening Theme from Disney’s Alladin
You’re not part of the in-crowd if you haven’t yet Instagrammed a visit to The Islands latest shawarma-han craze, Jafar’s Shawarma Station. Leylam, whutt?
The lunchtime line snaked from the outdoor booth, broken every once so often by cars cutting through that access road to the parking area. Eponymously named after the villain in Disney’s Alladin as a reference to the Shawarma’s Middle Eastern origin, the booth even features an oil lamp on its logo. Finally reaching the front after a good 20 minutes, we ordered a Shawarma (wrap), of course, with spicy chicken filling and The PussyKat, the rice-eater she is (I love you, Love), had a Shawarma Rice with US Angus Beef. Limited outdoor seating, the heat and the cars driving through the area forced us indoors where we found an Italian bakeshop stall willing to accommodate us for a purchase. More on that in a separate post.
My Shawarma initially disappointed in overall size but biting into it revealed that it was densely packed with fillings: sizeable cuts of spicy chicken, greens, a yogurt-based sauce(?) and white ohhhhhhnions. It had enough zing without coating the mouth with a lingering heat. Filipino-owned, it did not try to foolishly attempt authenticity with the heavy use of exotic spices but went for an unassuming formula more attuned to local tastes. Speaking of local, in addition to the choices of chicken, minced beef, the best-selling Angus beef and vegetarian options for fillings, they also have homemade chorizo. What a kick it would be if they came up with a Shawarma-silog line, huh?
The PussyKat loved her equally well-spiced US Angus Beef Shawarma rice, bright yellow with saffron, but found it cloying towards the last five spoonfuls. “It’s the cumin. Too much,” she said. “It’s all that rice, Love. Too much,” I replied. “But I love you and that’s all that matters”, I quickly added, seeing her eyes go feral. “Maybe it’s because it’s not basmati.” *sheepish grin* *to self: “Shut up, shudduuuuup!”*
Jafar’s Shawarma Station is located at the Banilad Town Center ( a stone’s throw from Pancake House), Banilad, Cebu City.