03/21/18 2:08pm

There’s something about shawarma—a Middle Eastern exclamation point of rotating meat basting in its own juices—that is absolutely fascinating. Like my dear departed friend Josh Ozersky who once gushed, “Just the outer edge of the meat is sliced, so essentially the sandwich is just the sizzling brown surface of a lamb roast,” I am fascinated with shawarma in all its forms.
Until very recently I have only had the chicken version, but lately the lamb variety—really a blend of lamb and turkey—has come on my radar. Most recently at Tov-Li Shawarma & Falafel a newish Israeli spot that opened on the Bukharian Broadway that is 108th Street in Forest Hills. (more…)

04/24/13 10:21am
Grill Point’s shwarmic wonder wheel beckons passersby.

Grill Point’s shwarmic wonder wheel beckons passersby.

Spell it shwarma or shawarma, I don’t care. Either way, the Middle Eastern sandwich of stacked meat roasted on vertical spit is one of my all-time favorites. Truth be told I am mesmerized by rotating, roasting meat whether it’s a whole goat or a tower of chicken or lamb slowly browning, just waiting to be shaved off into sandwiches. One of the best places in Queens to get an Israeli version of this sandwich is Grill Point, where they spell it shuwarma. Grill Point lies on the largely Israeli end of Main Street in Kew Garden Hills. It’s an area I wish I visited more often. So when my pal Meir suggested we have lunch there I immediately said yes.     

The turkey lamb shuwarma has a perfect balance of crunchy browned bits and succulent meat.

The turkey lamb shuwarma has plenty of crunchy browned bits.

I ordered the lamb shuwarma ($10.10) and got a surprise, turkey. At first when I read “pita lamb turkey,”on my receipt I thought it was a mistake. The grill man assured me though that the spit he was carving from was composed of 60/40 blend of lamb and turkey, a meat that I begrudgingly eat every Thanksgiving. I was tempted to ask him whether Grill Point uses meat glue to bond the two, but I’m pretty sure the wonder substance is not kosher. In addition to the wonderfully sweet and spicy meat alloy, my pita was packed with creamy hummus, Israeli salad, and fried eggplant. Best of all there was a perfect balance of crunchy browned meat from the shwarmic wheel’s exterior and succulent  flesh from within. Truly one of the best “shuwarma” in recent memory. (more…)

02/13/13 10:23am
Not quite a shawafel, but still a great sandwich.

Not quite a shawafel, but still a great sandwich.

Those who know me well know that I hardly ever cook at home. This is not so much the result sloth as it is the fruit of an unquenchable desire for discovery coupled with the unrealistic expectation that every morsel of food I ingest must be a peak gastronomic experience. I do know how to cook, after a fashion, though. I’ve even burned myself in restaurant kitchens and almost burned down a restaurant kitchen while trying my hand at working the line.

From the moment I put a slice of bologna in an apple as a kid I’ve had a creative culinary streak. My finest creation to date is the shawafel. It occurred to me while eating at the now defunct On the Grill. The Israeli spot had both great falafel, and great chicken shawarma, carved from a gigantic tower of meat as all great shawarma should be.  So it was only natural for a creative genius of my caliber to suggest that the cook take some chicken shawarma and bread it in falafel batter. Thus was born the the shawafel sandwich.  I have not had one since On the Grill closed several years ago. (more…)