Shawarma Show: The Bourgeoisie of Shawarma
Warning: the following is NOT a hyped review of a glamorized shawarma chain featuring mediocre fast food fare (read: Shawarmanji). The following is an honest account of the no-nonsense, heavy-on-meat-and-not-on-pickled-or-fried-rubbish wraps that can be had at Shawarma Show. The single location restaurant sits on the Jdeideh highway, just before Bank of Beirut and across from Almaza brewery.
Shawarma Show is not your typical, greasy, sidewalk shawarma joint. The restaurant is a two-storey establishment outfitted with wooden bar stools on the ground floor and proper tables and chairs on the upper floor. There are even separate (and sanitary) restrooms for men and women! The first thing you notice when you enter Shawarma Show is a glass enclosure behind which are five spits of charcoal-grilled shawarma and three shawarmiers, as we'll call them. You don't interact directly with them, as they cannot really hear you behind the thick glass panel, which no doubt is meant to shield the meat from dust and pollutants. At the counter, you pick up a menu and a small check-list where you can personalize your sandwich.
There are five types of meat: beef, lamb, chicken, fish, and soujouk. Bread is available as white or brown pita (single or double loaf), French bread, and even tortilla wrap. Vegetable fillers include tomato, parsley, onion, lettuce, pickled cucumber, pickled horseradish, and fries. You can dress your sandwich in tarator, hommos, garlic paste, guacamole, tartar, or mayonnaise. The best part? There is no added cost for a tailor-made shawarma, and you can stuff in as many ingredients as you wish, all for 6,000LL ($4). A traditional sandwich is for the same price.
Now a run-down of the sandwich and the proportion of its contents: each sandwich comes generously packed with meat, as a cross section of the wrap will reveal, keeping the veggies and sauces to a minimum. The shawarmier shaves off the meat directly from spit to bread and will even avoid any fat if you request a lean cut. I tried half of each type of shawarma except the soujouk. The lamb, as expected, is more tasty and tender than the beef; the chicken is exceptionally lean and doesn't drip any fat; and the fish, a hammour, is simply dazzling. I'd never had (nor heard of) fish shawarma before, and the image I had conjured up in my head wasn't especially appealing. But by far, the fish was my favorite, lightly seasoned, super moist and delicate, and totally un-fishy.
On an empty stomach, two shawarma wraps will more than suffice. In fact, one and a half will do, so grab a lucky pal and go feast!