Monday, 13 February 2012

Shawarma face-off! Mozy vs. Highland vs. Sadaf

Sadaf Shawarma
373 Bridge Street
Waterloo, ON



Mozy Shawarma
247 King Street 
Waterloo, ON



Highland Halal Shawarma
200 Highland Road West
Kitchener, ON


Okay, we decided that a Shawarma face-off needed to be done.  
This Shawarma-off was to determine which shawarma was the best in the K-W region.  We picked two of our favourites Highland Halal Shawarma and Mozy Shawarma and the new boy on the block, Sadaf Shawarma, having opened only a month or so ago. We did this as scientifically and objectively as we could.  We ordered a chicken shawarma from each establishment. Some were "full flavour", some just chicken with the works.  This is strictly our opinions.  (Let me apologize for the pictures of the half eaten Shawarmas now but we forgot to bring a knife with us.)

Sadaf Shawarma:

Mozy Shawarma:

Highland Halal Shawarma:

In her opinion:

My husband introduced me to shawarma. When he first mentioned that I needed to try shawarma, I thought why?  Isn't this just another pita and what's so special about a pita?  But after trying my first shawarma, I was hooked.  No, this is not another pita. Shawarma refers to the meat that is put into these delicious sandwiches (for lack of a better word).  I won't go into the details since Edgar has already done that, I'll just give you my opinion about which shawarma was the best.

I ultimately picked, "Mozy Shawarma" as the winner.  But really all three were winners in my book. 

Why Mozy's shawarma?  Well, Mozy Shawarma's meat is delicious. You can taste the mace, lemon, yogurt that is used to marinate their chicken and that is why it is so good.  The meat is very flavourful.  We ordered the "full flavour" which comes with chicken shawarma, french fries (I believed they pour drippings from the meat on top of these babies so there's an extra kick of flavour),  garlic sauce, pickle and we get hot sauce as well.  So delicious. So good!

At Highland Halal Shawarma the meat is also very flavourful and you can easily taste the lemon and mace again. But I think not as flavourful as Mozy's.  They put lettuce, tomato, pickled turnip (I never knew what the purple beet like veg was until yesterday...and now I am in love with Middle Eastern pickled turnip), pickles, garlic sauce and hot sauce (at our request) in their shawarmas.  They heat the bread against the spit of chicken meat for added flavour.  There is no doubt that this is a delicous shawarma.

Sadaf Shawarma is the new kid on the block.  I would describe their shawarmas as fresh.  The sauce was garlicky and delicious.  Not too overpowering.  Their toppings included tomato, pickle, picked turnip, lettuce and top sauce.  Their chicken shawarma meat is not as flavourful as the other two but was still very fresh tasting.  You really tasted the toppings and sauce in this shawarma.

All three have their merits but overall, I love the flavour of Mozy's shawarma.  I love the flavour of the meat and how it all works together very well with the toppings.

In his opinion:

I don't proclaim to be a Shawarma expert at all, nor I'm of Turkish, Greek, Armenian or Middle Eastern descent. But I have had my fair share of Shawarma every chance I can (including in Dutch Saint Martin), don't ask!

Shawarma for those that don't know, (comes form Turkish word for "turning"), and is Levantine Arab meat preparation where lamb, goat, chicken or beef is placed on a Spit (vertical meat roaster) and the meat from it is used to make various dishes including the Shawarma wraps. Very similar to Donair (Doner) popular in the 80's in Canada.

For this Shawarma-off we will focus on the Chicken wrap type. In our area there are a few places that do Schawarma well and we thought, let's put it to the test and give our opinion on the best.

Usual ingredients found in Shawarma are, chicken, taboon bread (pita bread) tomato, cucumber and usually a salad (Tabbouleh or Fattoush). Other toppings include tahini, humus, pickled turnip and Amba (a tangy mangle pickle condiment). 

First, we tried a new Shawarma place on Bridge Street, Waterloo called Sadaf. This place has only been opened about a month or so and the owner Latif remained humble but optimistic of his success in this area when I spoke to him.

Their Shawarma was very good for starters. It had a great combination of flavours, garlicky and well balanced with softer spicy sauce throughout. It's ingredients included pickled turnip, pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion.
The meat was not as flavourful as some of the other places we had tried, but it tasted very fresh and definitely very balanced overall.

Our next stop was Mozy's, the new place on University Street, Waterloo where we decided to go for the so called "full flavour" Shawarma wrap. This full flavour also includes pickles, garlic sauce and spicy french fries, which add a lot to the taste. This was a slightly different one than the others but full of flavour and I could feel the hot sauce more than on the others. The meat had a hint of lemon flavour and it was the least messy of all of them.

Lastly, we went to Highland Halal Shawarma, on Highland Road, Kitchener. For most of us this is the original Shawarma in Kitchener and regarded as the best in town by many (including the owners that put those words on their business cards). It has changed a bit since the new owners took over. It now serves a lot more than just Schawarma and Falafel like before. This chicken Shawarma is also great. The pita bread was the thickest, and the most flavourful as well because they warm it on the spit before stuffing the ingredients. This one contained lettuce, tomato, pickles, pickled turnip, hot sauce and onions. It also felt the least garlicky of the 3 but messy when eating due to the sauces. 

Overall, all three were pretty good and the difference in tastes is going to be very subjective to everyone. We tried 3 different Shawarmas and all 3 were very good and I would return to all of them at some point.

The winner, if there has to be one would be Halal. It had the most flavour, best balance and was the least messy. The fact that they now also have fries bring another dimension to it, and may be the factor that gives it some advantage but I still feel that overall it just tasted better.

A close second is Mozy's. They both have different takes on the chicken Shawarma wrap full flavour but in my opinion Halal is just better.  One is softer and more balanced with softer flavour (Halal) and the other (Mozy's), an explosion of potent flavours that somehow all complement each other without overpowering one another.

And this if my opinion on the Shawarma scene in K/W. 

Mozy's Shawarma on Urbanspoon Highland Halal Shawarma on Urbanspoon


  1. We don't have any shops like this in Australia. We have kebab shops. I haven't seen the rolling meat thingo since leaving the states but that was Greek Gyro in Florida.

    I need to move to a bigger town obviously :)

    Nice post.

  2. Sad :( Sadaf Shawarama closed.

  3. b.p. thanks for informing us. It's a shame that Sadaf Shawarma closed. We will miss it!

  4. Visit Shawerma Plus and check the website

  5. I'm sad to see so many excellent shwarma places close. But Kitchener's best Shwarma - is now East Side Shaarma on Kingsway Drive in Kitchener (corner of Kingsway and Wilson across from Fairview Park Mall). Try it. I know you'll go back. My personal favourite chicken shwarma wraps; but others love the chicken shwarma plates or the chicken shwarma poutine. Try them today!

    1. Sorry but you sounded like the owner of that restaurant.

      IMO Mozy's still the best.

  6. East Side is the best shwarma place in town, and possibly in many other cities. Other than shawarma, the chicken and beef kabab plates are extremely delicious. I have been to be Middle East and tried kababs and shawarma, but when I come back, I enjoy East Side. Over years, I have taken many friends and clients there and every single person goes back there! I like Highkand Shawarma too but East Side is the best!