Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gourmet Pizza & Kabob House - Shawarma

This little restaurant has been open for a few years in the Four Corners area of Whitby (126 Brock Street South). I usually avoid driving in this part of town because it gets congested with traffic and I can get stuck waiting for a few light changes to get through the intersection (a huge peeve of mine). I usually drive the side streets when getting around downtown. Doing this, I miss the main attractions....

Today I stopped in at Gourmet Pizza & Kabob to try a pizza special of theirs (a large 4 topping pizza for $10). My order was a pizza topped with Halal pepperoni, Halal sausage, Halal bacon and onion. Obviously the place is Halal. I also ordered two garlic dipping sauces.

As I waited for my pizza I couldn't resist the siren's call of a spit of chicken spinning, crisping up and whispering my name. As my pizza was delivered I ordered a shawarma with the works (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, pickles, turnip, garlic and hot sauce). The cost? $4.50.

Trying a slice of the pizza I was underwhelmed. It tasted pretty mass produced. An unremarkable industrial crust with cheap tasting meats. I guess you get what you pay for sometimes.

The shawarma on the other hand was very nice! It was subtly spiced, the char from the spit roasting of the chicken dominated the flavour. It was moist and plentiful. The garlic sauce was creamy and slightly sweet, I could not pick out the hot sauce very much at all. In a pinch this'll be my go to shawarma place in the Durham region. It's not quite on par with Cyrus, but, it's 15 minutes closer to my house and the price is very respectable.

Alnoor Kebab & Sweets - Beef Kebab

I recently stopped by Alnoor Kebab (44 Harwood Avenue South) in Ajax based on some reviews from a Halal food website. I have driven past many times but never stopped in. Actually, it's in the same plaza as Pita Delites which I reviewed a while back.

Stepping in I kind of wanted to back right out. There were things piled all over the counters where food is prepared, boxes and trays, business cards, newspapers, Terry Fox sign up forms (which was held 2 months ago), cds, greasy print outs of their specials, even the sound system. ..... None of this should be out in the open, keep it in back out of the way.

As I stepped in I was greeted by a man who stepped out from the kitchen area. He seemed very friendly and let me look over the menu until I made up my mind. I chose a beef kebab on naan bread ($5.75). I was informed it would take 10 minutes.

As I waited I looked around wondering what I'd say if I was a food inspector. I actually looked around on the counters to see if I could spy an insect. I couldn't. I might sound harsh (Alnoor has only received passes by Dinesafe in the past two years) it's just clutter should not be stored in the open.

It's a shame, the seating area seemed nice enough although there were more cds and newspapers on the tables.

Once my kebab was prepared I was asked if I would like hot sauce on it, I agreed, I also asked for some yogurt sauce. Surrounding the beef was lettuce and onion.

I ran out and got to tasting, curry, perhaps cumin, cardamom  and ginger seemed to be the dominant flavours. The hot sauce packed some real heat, my mouth tingled for quite a while afterward. Unfortunately the beef itself was dry, so dry it tasted like it was packed with filler. The naan itself seemed fresh and homemade, there were charred bits stuck to it, remnants from the tandoor, a good sign. I was happy with it.

Overall it had a nice flavour, the naan was pretty darned good, the texture of the meat was off putting. Combined with the clutter all over the serving counters, I'm not in any real rush to head back.

Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant - Jerk Chicken

A few weeks back I had a craving for jerk chicken, wait, what is jerk chicken?

Jerk is a Caribbean staple, especially in Jamaica. Most often it's pork or chicken marinated in a flavourful combination of allspice, cinnamon, thyme, pepper, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, an acid (orange juice or vinegar), vegetable oil and scotch bonnet peppers for heat. Traditionally it's cooked over pimento wood on 50 gallon drums which have been cut in half. This is Caribbean street food at it's finest. Most nights you'll find vendors on the street cooking jerk and offering it up to passers by.

I have an awesome recipe I use when I plan ahead, but, the mood struck me and I headed off Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant (4100 Baldwin St. South) in Whitby to get my jerk fix. I opted for a the jerk chicken special which comes with rice & peas, cole slaw and a drink.

It was prepped right away and I took it home.

Upon arrival I was a bit taken aback, it was pretty small for the price. I got rice and  peas barely covered by a thigh, a cup of slaw and a can of Diet Pepsi for just over $8. I know I can make a huge tray of legs for about the same price. I wasn't off to a good start.

Tucking in, I was impressed. The chicken had good flavour and was moist, the rice was well done and their oxtail gavy was perfectly acceptable. The slaw was very soupy and sweet, pretty much cabbage in Miracle Whip.

Flavour wise the lunch was fine, value wise I felt ripped. I have been to a jerk place in Scarborough on a few occasions and had a container twice the size of this with a leg and a thigh, rice and peas with an off-brand diet cola for the same price.

Sorry for the image quality, I'm assuming the styrofoam reflected light back at the lens of my cell phone. I didn't catch it during my quick review of the pic before attacking my Big Mac container of food.......