Next week marks six years since Shawarma Khan opened in the Exchange District of Winnipeg. Since then there has been a location opened at Investors Group Field, along with Obby Khan’s Green Carrot Juice in Osborne Village.
Recently Khan has opened a third location. This one is what was home to one of my favourite coffee shops Twist Cafe. This seems like a natural fit, as the owners of the building are PInnacle Staffing. One of the owners of Pinnacle is Wade Miller, former Blue Bomber teammate of Obby Khan and current team president.
Yesterday marked the first day of business for Shawarma Khan, the new restaurant in the Exchange being run by former Bomber offensive lineman Obby Khan. I had hoped to go on the first day, but left my wallet at home that morning, so with wallet in hand, well pocket really, I headed down to check it out.
Walking into the new location the first thing I noticed was the change in decor. The most notable thing about Twist as far as decor went were the bright coloured tables. Shawarma Khan has replace these with pleasant pale wood tables, and light coloured chairs. The wall scheme is largely grey-blue, with white along the top. The other colours that predominate in the restaurant are of course, blue and gold, the colours of the Bombers.
Like the original restaurant the menu consists of a combination of wraps and platters.
I ordered the regular Chicken-Lamb-Beef trio. This comes with the three meats listed. As well there is tahini, hummus, rice, potatoes, pita chips, and the choice of two salads. I chose the beet and tabouleh salads. I only have one complaint about this meal, and that is the plate isn’t big enough.
I don’t mean that there isn’t enough food. Quite the opposite. There was so much food that it was falling off the plate as I was trying to eat. Like my original visit, the meat was good and tender. I don’t believe the beet salad was available when the restaurant first opened. It may be that I just missed it. It’s a real winner. Crunchy apple and sweet beets make this the kind of salad I could eat every day.
As I looked back at my original review, below, I noticed that I had said that Obby Khan’s presence had created a great atmosphere and that I hoped that would be continued by other staff going forward, and judging by the staff today it certainly has. It’s good to know that six years later Shawarma Khan is still focused on quality food and quality service.
The one thing missing from this new location, and not having recently been to the older location, perhaps there as well, are the malt beverages that were originally available. I really enjoyed those as an alternative to the usual beverages offered by the two major soft drink managers. Still, I”m definitely going to be stopping by the new Shawarma Khan again.
Just a note. Shwarma Khan also offers a variety of catering options.
The first thing you notice about the restaurant is that it is brightly lit. This kind of lighting gives the restaurant a welcoming glow about it, and stands out against a lot of the other, older, more dimly lit buildings in the area. The counter is set out at the back of the restaurant in the fashion that one would find at a Subway, or any other place that builds your meal for you. I found it a little confusing as to where to stand to place my order, but given that it’s the second day, I’m sure that will be made clearer in the future.
Shawarma Khan is clearly built on the principle that the best fast food is fresh food. Everything on the menu is made in house, and ordering of food is done in such a way as to maintain this freshness. Slight downside is that owing to the popularity of the new restaurant not everything was still available when I arrived, in fact I ended up being the last customer of the day, just after 5:00 pm.
However, as I mentioned earlier, it is only the second day, and you can’t expect everything to run smoothly right away. More importantly, the food I did get to eat was of such quality, that it left me wanting to find out if the items not available were every bit as good, and already determined to make a return trip to find out.
It should be noted that, in keeping with Obby Khan’s practice as a Muslim, all the meat has been prepared in keeping with the Halal dietary practices, and there is no alcohol served, but there are some wonderful alcohol-free malt beverages.
So here goes:
The menu has salads available for as little as $4.49, all the way up to the Chicken Shish Taouk Platter at $13.99. I had the chicken platter, $11.99 and it was more than a good value. If you order a platter, be prepared to eat a full meal. 5/5
Given that a shawarma restaurant is a niche restaurant, there is not a huge variety of choice here. However, there are enough items on the menu that had in combo, could have you eating a different meal several days in a row. 4/5
The quality of the food here is very good. As I mentioned earlier the restaurant places a premium on freshness, and follows through on the delivery. Both the Hummus and what I figure was some variant on Tzatziki, came across as fresh, with the latter having a real clean finish to it. The chicken was moist, and the potatoes were gently season and better yet, well but not over, cooked. The Fatoush salad, was liked the potatoes, not overly seasoned with crunchy peppers, and tender yet still firm beans. 4.5/5
The decor is quite simple, with counters around two sets of windows and several tables of four which are well spaced to give diners a sense of not being crowded by fellow patrons. The chairs are a reddish-orange that stand out nicely from the largely white interior. One nice touch is the Obby Khan caricature on all the napkin holders. 4/5
It’s always hard to judge service when a place is just opened, At the same time, if there is ever a time when a restaurant deserves extra marks simply for how hard they try it’s when they’ve just opened. As the owner of the establishment, Khan is right in the middle of the service. greeting customers, working with the staff, preparing food, filling containers, etc. I found it somewhat humorous that the menu has an item called “The Wrath of Khan.” I realize the pop culture significance, but it doesn’t quite seem to jibe with the owner’s presence. On the other hand, I suppose “The Gracious Hospitality of Khan” doesn’t exactly trip off one’s tongue either. If Khan produces staff that reflect his demeanour and approach to customer service, this restaurant is well on its way to being a success.
Shawarma Khan Overall.
Although it’s only the second day the place has been open, if the attitude, effort, and quality of food that was on display today is any indication, Shawarma Khan will definitely become one of my go to places in the Exchange. 4.5/5