We'd always wanted to try Falafel King previous times as it always looked busy and had been around for a good long while. It was either Falafel King or take out fish and chips from across the street (closer to English Bay) but since I had wanted to try out Qoola, M opted for Falafel King, which was right next door.
While I made my purchase in Qoola, M pondered over the limited selection in Falafel King. There were falafels, falafel platters, vegetarian platters, and the shawarma - beef or chicken. Since there were two full skewers of chicken shawarma heated and ready to go, M ordered a chicken shawarma plate. It came with tabbouleh salad, garlicky hummus, pita, and rice.
I'll have you know that I did a project on shawarma and donair in my last semester of public health training at BCIT. What makes for a good (and foodsafe) donair / shawarma? The risk itself comes from the way the food is made - donair is a mixture of ground seasoned meat that is formed onto a metal rod for cooking, while shawarma is typically chicken breasts that are seasoned, stacked, and skewered. As the cone of meat rotates past a heating element, the outside layer is cooked and sliced off to serving.
Since both shawarma and donair meats are formed raw, there is potential for the food to sit too long at optimal temperatures for pathogen growth, or for the meat to remain raw if there is insufficient time for the meat to cook.
However, it was found that as long as the 1) heating element is turned on, and the 2) cone of meat is set to rotate, the meat didn't remain within the "danger zone" (4-60ºC) for long. Since the rod that the meat sits on is metal, it also helps conduct heat from the center of the cone; combined with a careful thermometer-armed cook and a steady lineup of customers, the risk for pathogenic growth or survival is quite small.
About Falafel King? We've *never* had better, fresher chicken shawarma. The meat was tender and juicy, and done just right! It was, by far, the best value item on their menu. As I noted before, I had to pay more for dessert at Qoola!
The tabbouleh was more parsley and mint than we have ever had, but it just showed how fresh the ingredients were. The humous was a rich, creamy, flavourful condiment to the meal, and the pitas are made locally by none other than the Pita Bread Factory in Burnaby. As for the rice? I don't know if they used a plumper, short-grained rice to appeal to the downtown (i.e. Asian) crowd, but it was a noted (and delicious!) difference to what I'd had before (long grain, dry).
We loved the shawarma so much that we ordered another two (with spicy sauce! - it isn't actually that spicy at all.) to take home for dinner through the week. Just yesterday, me and M contemplated that if a Falafel King were to open up in the vacant commercial units in our apartment complex, we'd probably gorge ourselves on it until we couldn't walk.
Oh Falafel King, we are so happy to have found you. May you quelch many of our after-seawall hunger pangs and offer us many a third beach "picnic" this summer!
1110 Denman Street [map]