336 Springvale Road
Forest Hill VIC 3131
0403 609 786
They say you can find gems in unexpected places. In cookie cutter, WASP-y and Bible Belt-y Forest Hill, what are the chances that you’d find a shawarma shop? On a nondescript strip of takeaway stores on Springvale Road, no less?
Like a child born to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, King Shawarma is an eatery that isn’t exactly sure what it wants to be. On one hand, it sells fried dimmies and potato cakes at 80 cents apiece (a bargain, if you’re living in the leafy Eastern suburbs of Melbourne) as well as burgers. On the other hand, they’re selling supposedly authentic Afghan kebab skewers and shawarmas. If King Shawarma, the eatery, is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis then the shawarma should be hospitalised. I’m not entirely sure of the dish’s origins, but I do know that it’s a popular street food in Israel and the rest of the Arab world. It is essentially doner meat (either lamb or chicken, or whatever) served in pita bread. In other words, it wants to be a kebab and a souvlaki at the same time.
I ordered a standard lamb shawarma ($8), along with a couple of fried dimmies. The package was a neatly wrapped pita spiral comprising of lightly grilled lamb chunks, garlic sauce (which tasted more like an aioli than a tzatziki or a cacik), sliced onions, tomatoes and lettuce. It was slightly smaller than your standard souvlaki, too. Taste-wise, it didn’t pack as much flavour as a Footscray kebab (oh, NOM!) but if you’re into wrapped lamb sandwiches without the horrible bloaty feeling that you get after a 3am souvie at Stalactites, then I guess King Shawarma’s shawarma is for you.
One final word though, I’m not sure if the shawarma at King Shawarma is as authentic as claimed. I’ve yet to try shawarma elsewhere so I don’t have anything to compare it to. If anyone knows of any places that do great shawarmas (and ones that do not require a return ticket to Jerusalem), then please comment below. In the mean time I think I’ll stick to kebabs, thanks.