My sister Maggie and I recently had a lovely lunch where I ate some of the best falafel I have ever had.
Mohamed Ali Middle Eastern Cuisine is located in downtown St. John’s on Duckworth Street and this place competes with any falafel I ate in Istanbul.
After hearing rave reviews from Maggie, and having myself experienced the deliciousness of owner Ali Al Haijaa while he was cooking out of The Sprout kitchen in the wee hours of the morning as a late-night pop-up, I was excited to try out the food at the new digs.
The bright sunlit room is simply decorated with walls covered in bright turquoise paint and paintings by Middle Eastern artists that you can purchase. We were the only people there at 11:30, but by noon, the place was buzzing.
We ordered, sat down, and waited for the tastiness to arrive.
To start, we shared the falafel.
This is up there with the best falafel I have ever had; perfectly crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, and don’t even get me started on the hummus, sweet merciful!
Maggie went with the Chicken Shawarma for the main event.
Filled with shaved chicken (for those few who aren’t familiar with shawarma, it’s meat, of various types – chicken, beef, or lamb- that is fire roasted on a vertical spit simmering in it’s own delicious fatty juices until the meat is shaved off and served to salivating people), the warm homemade pita was stuffed with lettuce, tomato, pickled red turnip, and topped with tahini sauce. We also piled on the side of hummus we ordered.
I went with the Beef Shawarma option, even though I had been eyeing the Kofta Kebab Sandwich because it’s a personal favourite, but alas, it was sold out.
The pickled red turnip is what really makes the flavour pop, and with the crunch of the cucumber, the tender beef, and the oh so delicious tahini and hummus, I wasn’t too sad about missing out on the kofta.
And it cost $6.
While we were eating, I couldn’t help but overhear a few girls asking for ketchup for their shawarma. Word to the wise: please do not do this. You will ruin it. Slap on more tzatziki, hummus, or tahini, but try and avoid our friendly neighbourhood condiment shall we?
The lunch menu is well priced, with apps/sides ranging from $2 to $9 and the mains (mostly sandwiches) going for around $6.50. The dinner menu looks equally appealing with items such as Tobouli Salad, Shish Tawouk, and the Mixed Grill which consists of a plethora of meats like kofte and BBQ beef skewers.
The best part about this place? It’s open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights; say goodbye to that crappy slice of za, and say hello to Mohamed Ali.