All hail the chickpea! Michelle takes us out to exotic Burnaby
Lebanon has been culturally influenced by invaders from the Middle East, Turkey, and most recently France and Syria. This influence extends to its food and, in turn, Lebanon has influenced food across the Middle East. Today, Middle Eastern food is a delicious mix of aromas, freshness with subtle uses of herbs. In Vancouver you’ll find tiny places boasting traditional street food to elegant sit-downs.
Abdul's BBQ & Shawarma is a small place near Crystal Mall in Burnaby. The Syrian owner uses halal meat. The specialty is shawarma wrap with either chicken, beef or lamb. The juicy meat is cut directly of the roasting rack with your choice of a pita wrap or a platter with rice, tabbouleh (parsley salad) and hummus (chickpea spread). The secret is a special garlic spread on the pita. The flavour combination is a real treat. The falafel is a great alternative for vegetarians (fried chickpea fritters with the same accompaniments).
Abdul's BBQ & Shawarma, 1691-4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC, 604-431-9498; Daily 10am-10pm; Lunch/Dinner 15/person; close to Scandinavia House
On the other end of Burnaby is Golden Pita. Here the menu is a little more extensive, featuring daily specials, such as the mousaka (roasted eggplant); chicken & rice plate; and beef shawarmas. On Saturdays, try the specialty homemade Middle Eastern pizzas. The Zaatar (spices such as thyme and oregano) is a favourite. Or try any of the assortments of stuffed pies and pockets are delicious. I particularly recommend the chicken rocket (toasted pita with spiced chicken, onion, feta and veggies).
Golden Pita, 9630 Cameron St., Burnaby, BC, 604-444-585; Mon-Fri: noon-7:30pm; Lunch/Dinner $15/person.
In the heart of the downtown core, Nuba, shines with both its' restaurant and cafe. Last year, Vancouver Magazine highlighted one of its appetizer dishes and the restaurant garnered deserved attention. Najib’s special (crispy cauliflower, lemon & sea salt, tahini) is a revelation. The falafel is made from a secret recipe and worth trying. Delicious mains include the duck magret (cardamom spiced seared duck, potatoes, onion marmalade, feta and dried fruit salad) and the lamb chops (grilled zataar crusted lamb chops over hummus and tabouleh).
Nuba Restaurant, 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, 604-688-1655; Mon-Wed 11:30am-4:30pm, 5pm-11pm; Thu-Sat 11:30am-4:30pm, 5pm-12am; Lunch: $10-15/person, Dinner: $25/person; close to all downtown venues
Nuba Cafe, 1206 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC, 778-371-3266; Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat noon-9pm; Lunch/Dinner $15/person; close to all downtown venues.