Shawarma from Abdul’s on Kingsway

Shahdad swore that the bestest Shawarma in Vancouver is found in Burnaby’s Abdul BBQ, He brought us to try it out and it was simply fabulous. So, over the weekend, I simply had to bring Suanne and try it herself.

Abdul’s BBQ is located in the Crystal Mall on Kingsway and Willingdon. It’s a small shop located facing Kingsway. You will not miss it driving past the Mall on Kingsway.

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Abdul’s is a small shop with about seating for 12 on the inside. Abdul also set up a couple of tables outside his shop. Ordering is very simple because he had very big pictures posters of his menu plastered on the outside.

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Shawarma (sometimes also spelt as shawerma) is a middle eastern way of cooking meat. Common meat used are beef, lamb and chicken. The meats are cooked on a rotating machine with sources of heat over a period of several hours.

Abdul has three shawarma machines, each skewered with beef, chicken and lamb. He said that he normally will finish selling all these food by the end of day. His business had steadily grown since he opened his outlet in the Crystal Mall. He told me that when he started he had only a quarter of what you see above and today he often had to turn away customers at the end of day because his is completely sold out.

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The meat that is slowly cooked is then shaved off with a large knife and drops to a circular tray below to be retrieve. Abdul was kind enough to show me close-up the shaving of the meat. It was simply juicy and mouth-watering. I had to swallow my saliva twice while taking these pictures!

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Abdul is a very friendly and chatty owner of the shop. He told me that he’s Syrian and had been doing this for 16 years now. Abdul told me he uses nothing but the best quality meat for his shawarma. For beef, he uses only top round beef and for lamb, he uses only lamb shoulder.

Suanne and I were not particularly hungry and decided to order his Mixed Shawarma Platter. The Mixed Shawarma Platter was huge that it was enough to give both of us a good full meal. It consists of the three types of shawarma meat served with rice and pita. It also came with four sides. I felt that it’s pretty pricey as it costs $10 — but then I can accept that because Abdul did really use the best of ingredients and the food was great.

Here is a description of what the Mixed Shawarma Platter we ordered:

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The shawarma meat was well done and is served on top of the rice. It was a bit dry for us — we like our meat to be moist-er. Not complaining here … perhaps shawarma meat are like that. However, the taste of the meat were distinct and is awesome eaten with the rice.

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Abdul cooks his rice with butter and salt. They were aromatic and loose. It was so good that we can even eat the rice by itself only.

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This is our favourite part — the pita spread with what Abdul said is his secret sauce spread. We could order it spicy or mild — we chose spicy hot and it was really, really HOT. It’s not so hot that it burns but it’s … never mind, it’s hard to describe here.

The spread was what made Abdul’s pita so different from those I have tasted before. Abdul said he uses a garlic sauce made out of seven different types of spices. Abdul sears it slightly on the Shawarma machine before serving. It was really that good — you MUST try it.

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Here are the first two of the four sides. The main side is a salad of tomato, cucumber, lettuce. The other pinkish looking sides is a cabbage salad. The cabbage salad is dressed either in yogurt or sour cream — we’re not sure. Both of these are a bit sour.

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There is a hummus dip and Italian parsley salad.

This is a must-go-and-try place and is one of those great lesser known hole-in-the-walls. BTW, the address is 1691-4500 Kingsway, Burnaby and he’s opened seven days a week.

Abdul's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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  1. Kwayis! Mashaallah Abd! I pray your business does well… insha Allah. Hal enduka lahm halal?

  2. I’m a big fan of Abdul’s shawarma. Anyone who has tried it would agree with me that this is THE best shawarma in town. I’m going to miss it though since I’m changing my job. But I’ll be there every time I pass by Kingsway for sure.

    Shahdad

  3. that looks so good!! too bad i live in toronto! hahaha!

  4. Thank you so much for posting about this!! I live in the Lower Mainland but I grew up in the Middle East, came here 8 years ago. And I’ve been DYING to have a good shawarma. I mean I’ve tried a few places but none of them compare to what I had back East. Hopefully this will be just as good! 🙂

  5. That’s so depressing. I haven’t had shwarma since moving back to Thunder Bay from Ottawa two years ago. It’s a craving that never goes away..sniffle.

  6. wow.. looks delicious, great job!

  7. Shawarma is a new word for me. The meal (or rather way of cooking the meal) is called “doner” in Turkish, which roughly translates as “it rotates”. I believe this special meal is very unique to Turkish cuisine, and thus I am curious what language “shawarma” is in. Although originally Arabic, Abdul is also used as a name in Turkey, so I’m not sure if shawarma has some Arabic connection.

    I’d be really pleased if you post an answer to resolve that, or maybe ask Abdul?

  8. Hi All: I never knew there are so many fans of Shawarma. Shahdad told me he will bring me to try authentic Persian food this weekend. Come back sometime next week and check it out on our blog.

    Hi Ned: You are right … checking Wikipedia, it does recognize that Shawarma originates from Turkey (under the name, doner kebab). I think it’s a variation of the same thing — that Shawarma is the middle eastern version of Doner. Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma . Abdul is from Syria. Does this answer help?

    Hi Al Hakim: Abdul did tell me (twice!) that his shawarma is halal. He said that according to tradition, the animal throat has to be cut and all blood drained completely.

    Hi Stephanie: It’s always good to learn of another food blogger from Vancouver. Please keep in touch. I’ll blog roll you (and also anyone of you wants to exchange links, let me know).

  9. I love shawarma! There used to be this neat late night hot spot in London near our flat that we’d go to after the bars. Yum! Too bad I’m living in Minnesota now – I’ve got to find a place here besides Dino’s Gyro’s chain. Thanks for sharing!! -Crystal

  10. Thanks Ben.. I know a bit of Arabic and Turkish, and was curious about Shawarma. But the WikiP link seems to be missing..

  11. Thanks !! I work at Metrotower II and walk over to Crystal’s food court for lunch with my good foodie friend about once a week. Funny I’ve never noticed this place during the times I walk along the Kingsway side of Crystal. There’s nothing like a warm shawarma/donair pita pocket dripping with garlicky tzatsiki for lunch, with a big side of tabouli (parsley) salad. Will try to go next week !

  12. Hi Crystal: You wish you have our Shawarma but I wish we have a Trader Joe’s in Vancouver. I gotta drive 7 hrs to get to the closest one. One of these days I might just do that to see what the fuss is about with Trader Joe’s. Their website looks awful! 🙂

    Hi Ned: The link’s fixed now.

    Hi LotusRapper: Suanne and I were curious how you found chowtimes.com. You don’t seem to have a blog and most of our visitors are bloggers. Let us know …

  13. Ben, I don’t host a food blog myself, much easier to be other foodie blogs (like Chowtimes, Nancyland in Vancouver, Taste of 604, etc …). I don’t recall exactly how I found CT, maybe it’s Vaneats(?) which I no longer visit. Cheers

  14. Hi LotusRapper: I work near Metrotown and do know the neighborhood very well. I have a few blogs on reserve about places in the Metrotown area but am holding back just so that I have a bit of a variety.

  15. Hi Ben, Well I’ll just have to get CSIS (in my building) to hack into your PC to get those secret blogs ….. 😉

  16. Hi LotusRapper: What? CSIS office is in Metrotown Tower? That’s cool!

  17. Maybe …… but now that I’ve told you I’m afraid I’ll have to kill you 😉

  18. The food and prices here are great, and Abdul is really friendly. I am a big fan of Shawarma/Doner Kebab/Donair, etc. and have eaten it all over the world, from Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto to Germany (doner kebab is the most popular fast food there, and these places are everywhere due to the large Turkish immigrant population there), and Abdul’s is one of the very best I’ve ever had. I think if his pita sandwiches were combined with the in-store freshly baked pita that is very common in the German doner shops, then I would consider Abdul’s shawarma wraps my favorite by a far margin! But even without it, it’s up there with my top two or three places I’ve tried in the world.

    Abdul uses high quality meats and ingredients, and the portions are very generous. If you are VERY hungry, order the platter combo that just has shawarma on top of rice (and the signature sauce pita), and you’ll be stuffed five ways from Sunday. It has double the amount of meat and rice as the standard platters.

    Of the major reasons why Abdul’s food is so delicious is his secret signature garlic and hot sauces (there’s medium versions too), which are extremely flavorful and complex, and he uses this in the sauce pita that comes with platters and in pita wraps. I have asked if I can buy side take-out orders of the sauce, but he does sell it separately, which is significant as he readily sells humous and tzatsiki separately for take-out orders. If you order a shawarma platter, then ask for some garlic and medium/hot sauce on top, and it will add moistness if you find the meat a bit dry (and also add a whole lot of flavor!).

    My favorite is the lamb wrap or mixed chic/beef wrap, with medium hot sauce and a little extra garlic sauce (mmmmm). I can eat food that is really spicy, but I prefer medium so I can taste all the other flavors of the meat, veggies and the garlic sauce without them being overwhelmed.

    Give it a try sometime. Whenever I’m in at Metrotown, I eat here most often, probably as much as all other restaurants in Metrotown/Crystal mall combined. Just talking about it makes me want to go there today! 😉

    Another great place is the Golden Pita near Lougheed Mall. Great recommendations are the Chicken Rocket (a special toasted pita sandwich with spiced chicken /onion, feta and veggies), and on Saturdays, the Jibney (cheese pie) and the Kannafeh dessert.

  19. For Crystal: I think Pyramids Cafe in Columbia Heights is about the only place in the Twin Cities that does real, home made shawarma. It’s in a strip mall on 49th and Central, next to the Heights Bakery. Try it!

  20. Sir, I want a 2nd hand Shawarma machine.
    If you have in speare Plese inform me by Email at seedabbas@hotmail.com
    Thank you
    Regards.
    saeed

  21. hi, i would like to start a shawerma business in Arizona State .. any suggestions?

    Adnan

  22. Hi Adnan: He he he … I only eat. Have no idea about how to start a business!

  23. I need informations on your shawerma machines. I need to by one for my shop here in Monrovia-Liberia West Africa. I need the price including shipping

  24. Hi Losiny:
    You’re the third person asking me about buying the Shawarma machines. I am sorry I can’t help you at all.
    Ben

  25. Abdul makes the best falafel/shawarma in town! Don’t be fooled by imposters, especially those from Montreal claiming Boustan is the best. Mmm… if only I could find out what in his secret sauce is, I could go global!

  26. I am so much interested to work on shawarma buissiness in Ethiopia.How can I get the machine easly.I need the price including the shiping.Hope you would reply prompt.
    Abel

  27. hi Ben,
    its nice from you how you make a culturel food tradition (doner kebab/shawarma) a good advertisement…i was born in berlin and live in dubai at the moment…in berlin we have over 230 doner kebab restaurants here…im just curious how many you have in vancouver…do you any specific numbers???

    thanks

  28. Hi Cengiz:
    Oh … I don’t know how many Shawarma places there are here. There are quite a few around but Abduls is still the best to like 99.99% of the people here. If I guess, I would say about 30 city wide … give or take 200. 🙂
    Ben

  29. I am looking for a shawarma mechine to start business in India. you can contact me on my mail address.
    s.rehman@rediffmail.com

    91 22 9892007083

  30. Hi Abdul,

    Know what? I’ve been searching on the net on how to improve the marinade in my beef. I am from the Philippines and I am in shawarma business. One problem is that our beef here is not as tender as you think. Got a hard time looking into how to improve the taste. Could you share with me the recipe of your marinade (although it is the trade secret, pls.).

    Thank you.

  31. ha ha.. a shawarma machine…silly people. Abdul is a shawarma machine!

  32. ben, can you help me. I’m looking for a list of true halal restaurants and deli/butchers in burnaby and lower mainland. Any help would be appreciated! Please email it to me if you know it. of course, other than Abdul BBQ since I already know of this amazing place and go very often. It`s really hard to find true halal places that have a certificate so we muslims can trust that we`re eating halal only.

  33. Any body interested to buy Shawerma machines (NEW ONLY) please send me an email (musa3k@yahoo.com) and i will send him quotation with best specs & best prices.THANKS

  34. Hehehe…. laughing at all the shawarma reverse-spam:-)
    I think this is the post that first brought me to Chow Times and I’ve been reading ever since. I was at Abdul’s again today for a quick lunch and I just have to say, it really is fantastic.

  35. pls guys just give me his phone number

    1. Abdul’s number is listed on the Urbanspoon page. Click on the blue Urbanspoon image at the bottom of this post.

  36. Great post, Ben. I visited about a year ago…a really good shawarma and a truly pleasant proprietor. I`m definitely going back for the platter.

    BTW, you wouldn`t happen to have a used shawarma machine for sale, would you? 😉

    1. LOL! I blame Google for picking up the words Shawarma machines. At one point it was rank #1 for that key words and people around the world not only commented this post but also sent us emails asking for *our* shawarma machines. We used to reply nicely that we don’t sell the machines but gave up because it got really tedious doing so.

      I had not been back to Abdul’s for a long time. I like Abdul’s shawarma but it is so large that I don’t buy them for lunch (I eat very little for lunch). I just love it when Abdul makes it super spicy.

  37. We went to Abduls for lunch today. Happy to report that things have not gone downhill. We had a couple of wraps and the tabouleh salad Great flavones lots of food and friendly service. When Abdul says hot he means it.

    1. Hi Sedap Makan: I know what you mean. I had always asked for HOT at Abduls and it burns. I like it. His wrap is very big and is usually more than what I need for lunch. Ben

  38. We went to Abduls for lunch today. Happy to report that things have not gone downhill. We had a couple of wraps and the tabouleh salad Great flavones lots of food and friendly service. When Abdul says hot he means it. The meat was not fatty so we will definitely recommend this place.

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