Was it Arab hospitality, or just good business sense?
Perhaps a bit of both.
No sooner had we arrived at the brand new Mideast delicafe, we were each handed free baklava, to sweeten the wait.
As it turned out, the wait wasn’t excessive.
Jerusalem Shawarma’s not a big place, with most patrons doing take out.
We finagled one of four tables — the biggest one — and awaited the feast of mostly trademark Mideast wraps given a Palestinian twist by our hosts who hail from the Palestinian West Bank.
Watching the process directly in front of us was half the fun.
Our hosts ardently cram in the ingredients; the amount of chicken laid into one wrap was amazing – and then they added more.
After a tight, obviously well-practised roll job, the wraps are placed into a grill press for a light browning.
Hina’s chicken shawarma was a charmer with its seasoned meat and riot of veggies, pickled veggies and tangy sauce (medium size, $8.50).
“I could eat this all day,” said the instant adherent.
At least as huge a flavour was offered by the mixed beef and chicken shwarma ($11).
This is hearty, robustly flavoured food and our hosts were glad to explain the ingredients peculiar to their homeland.
One of them is zatar, an oregano-like spice that’s cooked into the deep fried bread sprinkled over the lively Fatoush salad consisting of tomatoes, onions, cucumber and olive oil .
I’m more accustomed to having a falafel served in an open pita bread, but JS’s arrived in a shawarma-like wrap.
The guts of the sandwich – deep fried chick pea balls – were served separately with a dose of tart tahini sauce.
It was tasty enough but the way it was served made it less distinguishable from the shwarmas. Maybe that’s just being authentic.
The tabouli salad (med. – $4.50) was the usual minty-citron tangle of parsley green but this was lent another Palestinian touch – the use of wheat-based granules akin to couscous.
Touching a host of bases was the beef kebab platter ($12.95).
Siding the meat was a heap of yummy, tangy garlic potatoes, teamed with a yellow rice and hummus.
“Do you want garlic?” I was asked.
Well, of course and the response was a big dollop of garlic mayo in enough quantity that we slathered it on whatever we wished.
The centrepiece of the platter were a pair of big beef kebabs – aromatically seasoned and downright delicious.
With portions this big, we doggie-bagged a fair bit.
But not before we took a run at the JS’s baklava, which wasn’t the most varied or colourful array of honeyed delights but it did the trick for us.
I doubt you’ll find a tastier, more authentic shawarma stand in Calgary.
Jerusalem Shawarma and Bakery
30 Country Hills Landing N.W. 403-400-0341
* * * * (out of five)
PRICE: Large shwarma $11
HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. during the week; 11 a.m.-11 a.m. weekends
CREDIT CARDS: Visa, MC