Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shawarma Amir

Last year, we posted something about the delicious street food you will find in Israel. I'm not going to re-hash the details, but one of our favorite meals here in shawarma (also known as doner kebab in some cultures).

For those of you that don't know what shawarma is, it is meat roasted on a rotating spit where it is then shaved off into a sandwich or wrap. The meat can be lamb, beef or chicken. Lamb seems to be most popular here, but that's not based on any statistical evidence a 3.5 year old could track down.

Whenever we visit my grandparents in Haifa, we always make a stop at Shawarma Amir, located on a busy road (Hahistadrut Blvd), across from the Lev Hamifratz shopping mall and the Yes Planet movie theater.

This place is my father's favorite. First, because their shawarma tastes great and fresh. Second, because the place is always kept very clean. Third, because the workers there speak English.

And also, because the staff members seem to "remember" my father as a loyal, returning customer. I use quotes, because we always think they remember my distinctly Asian looking father whenever we come in, but then they always ask questions suggesting they really don't, such as "Hey! Did you just arrive into town?" when we were actually there a few nights earlier. Nevertheless, we'll keep going back.

Oddly enough, Amir doesn't seem to have a website or internet presence at all. Not even on my father's beloved TripAdvisor. So on this trip, we decided to take a few photos and write Amir's first review.

As I mentioned, Amir is located on a busy street (Hahistadrut Blvd) across from the Lev Hamifratz shopping mall and the Yes Planet movie theater. In fact, if you ever wanted to find this place, searching for "Yes Planet Haifa" is probably the easiest way as you cannot find Amir on Google Maps.

Plus, the storefront is quite nondescript and would not be easy to find unless you could read Hebrew. There's limited parking outside

Whatever the exterior lacks in "welcome factor," the spotless interior really makes my American-side feel comfortable as there's always a worker constantly cleaning up each table after a patron leaves (unlike many other shawarma places you're lucky if there's only a few pieces of food on your chair). And speaking of chairs, there is plenty of seating available at Amir. 

Since the place only has shawarma, it's not too hard to order, but here's the menu (in Hebrew) just in case. Apologies about the glare, but that's where you would start reading. Going from the upper right corner and reading left, the first item is shwarma with options for pita (sandwich) for 31 sheckles, laffa (wrap) for 36 sheckles or platter for 47 sheckles. That would be about $8.23, $9.56 and $12.48 USD at current exchange rates. So definitely not cheap by street food standards, but infinitely better than going to McDonald's.

My father orders a pita each time as the laffa is pretty big. After you tell them the size, you tell them what toppings you want (like at Subway). A variety of vegetables come with the shawarma which include: cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, pickles, rhubarb and cabbage. Amir has a large variety of toppings, including several sauces (including garlic, hummus, amba and hot oil).

Customer Service
After you order, while they're packaging the food, one of the workers there will offer you a complimentary shot of Arabic coffee. Seems to be an Arabic tradition at shawarma places. My mother loves the strong Arabic coffee. My father loves the "free" part.

We ordered take out, so they filled a bunch of containers with the popular vegetables, such as pickles, olives, pickled cauliflower/carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and onions. We also ordered a side of french fries and asked for a few cups of tahini and amba sauces.

The Food
The photo here won't do the shawarma justice because it's hidden inside a fresh pita along with a coating of hummus, cabbage and hot sauce. But trust my father when he says it was absolutely delicious.

And just in case my father wanted to explore a second career...

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