Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: The Great Shawarma Shootout 2, Lokhandwala Edition

The quest continues. Where do you get the best Shawarma in Bombay? In the first Great Shawarma Shootout we tried a number of places in Bandra. This time, we visited the suburb and vicinity of Lokhandwala to see if we could find Bombay's Best Shawarma.



Accompanying me on this review is the venerable Mr. Joydas Mukherjee. For safety reasons we brought along Dr. Shardul, just in case the food really turned out wrong.


As you know, we are straight shooters on this blog. We say it like we taste it. Thus for security purposes His Lordship accompanied us.

(I lie, we brought him along because he looks so damn cute.)

As with the last Shawarma Shootout the rules stay the same. What makes a good Shawarma? The Shawarma is ultimately a cousin to that most versatile of dishes , the sandwich. It is impossible to narrow down to what is an absolutely bare-bones traditional recipe. The standard in Bombay is to have the slices of chicken over pita bread, with sour cream, hummus, potato, beetroot and any additional spices. This varies slightly with the traditional Shawarma that might also have extra Tahini (though the hummus should contain that), Olives, even cucumber and tomato at times.
To narrow down the parameters we decided that most basic rule should be "No Indian Spicy Taste!". It is too easy to compromise, throw in a host of spices to appease the local palate and lose touch with the roots. It is for this reason we did not try any of the "Spicy Shawarmas". 

1) Zus Sizzlers, Lokhandwala


We began this shootout at the rather popular Zu's eatery. It looks like a nice vibrant place. Technically it makes Sizzlers, and only sources its Shawarmas from the next door Fanoos. However since someone said they have common ownership, we decided to treat them as the same. 

(Joydas with our first Shawarma of the evening)

The first thing we noticed about this Shawarma was the overuse of garlic. This particular theme seemed constant throughout all the joints in Lokhandwala which was quite intriguing. The chicken was a bit dry, but the bread was alright. It was a bland Shawarma, nothing to write home about. No outstanding textures, no flavourful tastes. 

Joydas: 2/10
Me:3/10
Overall: 3/10

2) Toss & Grill, Lokhandwala


This is a tiny little place near the entrance to Lokhandwala market. They have an extensive range of Shawarmas, which is not necessarily a good thing. There was something called a "Prawn Shawarma" on the menu which I honestly shudder to even think about tasting. Well, maybe one day I will get the strength of will to give it a try. 

First things first, the chicken was delicious. It was perfectly cooked. It was juicy. It was absolutely mouth wateringly delicious. I don't know if they got lucky, or they served the food bloggers the best piece of chicken they have managed all day, or if they are consistently that good. But I cannot say it enough, the chicken was delicious. 
The rest of the shawarma sadly did not match the same standards. The fries were not crispy and were a little bland, there was a hint of too much garlic (just a hint), and it needed some more crisp lettuce in the roll. However the chicken was the reason we scored this place pretty highly. 

Joydas: 5
Me: 5
Overall Score: 5

3) Lebanese Point, Lokhandwala


This is in the middle of Lokhandwala market. We went there with much trepidation. It is part of a chain, and the one in Khar had left us quite unimpressed. But, as dedicated bloggers, we decided it was our duty to give them a second shot. Maybe this outlet can manage what Khar couldnt?.


They fared worse. The lesser I say about this shawarma the better. Way too much garlic, the chicken tasted dry, old, overcooked, and the bread was raw. 
As you can see, the cream is more like curdled milk.We could not finish the roll, and Joydas refuses to even rate it. I have decided to be very very generous and give it a 1. 

Joydas: Refused to acknowledge its existance. 
Me: 1
Overall: 1 (only because I am being very very generous). 

4) Dhuan, Versova.
 

This place looks interesting. Thanks to the odd font in the name, it took me a while to read what was written. It has an extensive menu of lebanese dishes, and it definitely should merit a review someday. However, their Shawarma section has two different items. One is a regular Shawarma, and the other is a Hummus Shawarma. This posed a bit of a quandry as to which one to order since a traditional Shawarma should contain hummus. We finally decided to go with the normal Chicken Shawarma and see how the restaurant has interpreted this roll. 

What you are seeing in the picture is half the roll. As you can see, Mr. Joydas had greedily stolen his half before the picture could be taken. The other thing you are seeing is the abundance of vegetables. This wasnt merely on the plate, it was within the shawarma too. We have Carrots, Beet, Radish, Jalapenos. The second odd thing about the cream you can see, is that it is not sour cream. It was a garlic butter/paste. So the basic shawarma contained no hummus, no sour cream, no tahini, no olives, no lettuce. It is an interesting take on the roll, but we were hard pressed to call it a Shawarma on first sight.
As far as the taste goes, the first bite was quite good. As a "chicken roll" it would be rated quite highly. But if we go by the rules set at the start of the shootout, it has its weaknesses. The chicken was juicy, but the juice was olive oil. I have never eaten a Shawarma that was as oily as this one. It left a huge coat of oil on our fingers. The chicken was also spiced intensely with Indian spices. This was definitely something that had been made to appeal to the local palate. A couple of bites in, the flavour of the garlic butter started overpowering the rest. It missed the sour cream and hummus that could have really worked beautifully to even out the flavour. 
However, the vegetables added a nice touch. Mr. Joydas was particularly flummoxed by the radish which brought an angle to the roll that we had not experienced before. If we had to rate it as a chicken roll, it would have unanimously been rated at a 6 or better. However as a shawarma, we had to rate it as:

Joydas: 4
Me:4

Overall score:4

96 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to say, having lived in the Gulf and grown up on Shawarmas for 8 years, finding anything remotely close to an authentic shawarma will be an absolute miracle. I've been trying my own version of the Shawarma Shootout since 1998, but each place fails miserably. The only one that remotely came close, about 10 years ago, was surprisingly enough Lebanese Point Lokhandwala.

    I am afraid I have to refuse my co-workers' when they call for Shawarma, usually from their favourite, Maroosh.

    My only suggestion, sadly, is to give up.

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