Mr. Shawarma has been serving Vancouver since 2010, essentially since the year that BC made vendor permits easier to obtain. Through a little research we found that things were not always as favorable for food truck owners as it is now. Today, there are estimated to be around 300 food trucks in Vancouver, which is a good sign for the industry and it’s future.
Shawarma is the kind of food that has a ton of variation in every country you go to or even locally, from place to place because at it’s core, it’s a very simple, basic concept and that is what makes it so simple and at the same time challenging to experiment with. That is the reason we made the decision to try Mr. Shawarma because we had all tasted some variation of it back home and were in love with it, so, we had to try the real thing.
A distinctive, bright yellow trailer located in the middle of the Robson Square right in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Three cheerful looking folks preparing and serving a couple of people on a regular day in “Raincouver.” The menu was clearly displayed on the left hand side, very well organized with it’s various offerings and variations. What made us even happier, were the prices! So reasonable. All the senses were immediately involved, you can hear the meat and vegetables sizzling on the flat top grill, you can smell the flavor and see a bunch of sauces neatly lined up on the back wall.
The message that was most repetitive on the truck and even printed on the staff t-shirts read “Yalla Habibi” which, literally translated would be “Let’s go, my love” but in the context it was positive message welcoming anyone and everyone to try the delicious food and meet the lovely people that serve it, as Mohammad later explained.
Location & Services
Locations as of now are Burrard Station, Granville Station and Robson Square, they also offer an “on the go truck” service where they can be pre booked for events like weddings, corporate events, schools fairs, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, charity events, holiday parties.
Mr. Shawarma offers a variety of mouthwatering Mediterranean food that includes Grilled Pita Wraps (Shawarma), Spicy Box, Original Platters and the Philly Cheese Steak! All these items were priced in the range of $6.50 to $11!
The only disappointment we faced was a lack of anything pure vegetarian, the falafel Spicy Box was the closest thing, but the homemade mayonnaise contained egg.
Overall, it was simple to understand and just long enough for anyone to comfortably choose an item without confusion.
What We Ordered
We decided to taste it’s signature pita wraps with chicken ($7.50) and lamb ($8.50), and also the falafel Spicy Box ($8.50.) The service was fairly quick and packaging was done well at the same time.
Both the shawarmas came in tightly wrapped rolls stuffed with diced cucumber, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley and guess what! Crunchy fries along with the meat, which complimented the texture surprisingly well and was topped with hummus, tahini sauce and garlic sauce to round it off. The chicken shawarma had a more complete flavor profile, where as, the lamb shawarma was more filling.
The falafel Spicy Box was served with a base of seasoned rice with carrots and peas, potato fries, falafel seasoned with tahini sauce, garlic sauce, mayonnaise, jalapeno, pickled radish and the hero of the box, the hot sauce. It was the best tasting item out of the 3, each ingredient complimented the other perfectly.
We would have to liked to sample the luscious looking Philly Cheese Steaks, but were already full, maybe next time!
For the few minutes that the staff weren’t busy preparing food, we had the opportunity to talk to Mohammad, who was the manager incharge. We quickly asked him a million questions! And very calmly Mohammad answered what he could.
He told us that he had started working with Mr. Shawarma only two years back. The first question we had was regarding the food truck industry and the marketing for Mr. Shawarma, to which he had an optimistic approach because the industry is growing but at the same time they had to keep up with the competition. For the marketing bit, we had looked them up beforehand and found it odd that for a company that started 10 years ago, the social media presence was not so huge. To which he explained that they were mostly dependent on the marketing done by word of mouth and to keep up with the competition they had competitive pricing that drove customers. This point proved accurate because we did not really notice the counter being empty even on a rainy day!
We were briefly told about how the Shawarma is around 300 years old and it literally translates to “turning,” which defines the style of preparing the meat that goes in it. We were not allowed to take pictures from the inside but were told that their Instagram posts might help (wink wink!)
The food truck was easily accessible through Google Maps, but not listed on the Vancouver Street Food app. The rolls and the Spicy Box were very yummy and could be recommended to anyone that likes Mediterranean food. The prices were super reasonable for the quality and quantity.
The packaging was thoughtfully designed for anyone to enjoy their food even on a rainy day, with an umbrella in one hand and the food in another!
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that food is personal thing and taste is subjective. The experience of sharing it with new friends in a new city made it very special for us! And to be able to learn and support the industry made it all the more exciting.