Ottawa Donair Quest – Shawarma Andalos
Address: 407 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa
Hours: 11:30am – 6pm (M-F); closed Sat & Sun
Tucked inside the charming Minto Place retail level, I noticed Shawarma Andalos while taking refuge from the rain and eating some pizza from a food truck. Still feeling a bit hungry, I noticed that Andalos had a sign advertising that they sell donairs now. Nova Scotian curiosity: piqued.
They had a spit of donair meat, which was somewhat encouraging in that they wouldn’t just be hauling a pre-cut package of meat out of a fridge or freezer. A small, ala carte donair was just $6 and seemed like the appropriate size since I had just eaten a small pizza.
When asked about toppings, I went with everything minus the hot peppers. I wanted to try the Ottawa/Ontario donair blasphemy just this one time. This godlessness consisted of the typical shawarma toppings of lettuce, marinated onions, pickled turnip, pickles, and tomato.
The meat was hand carved off the spit, but not finished on a grill, which meant no crispy edges and also the possibility of E-coli (being grill-finished is a must in other provinces, or Andalos was breaking the rules here).
I was given the option for the “sweet sauce”, so I gave that a try, hoping it was actually real deal donair sauce (PS. just call it that if it is).
The counter staff were fast and efficient.
Sitting back down amongst the masses of lunching civil servants, I took the first bite of this chapter of my donair odyssey. The meat was on the thick side due to the hand carving, and had a rubbery texture like processed meats. The flavour was nearly there, but was too subdued and didn’t have the same earthy, spicy hit of a true Nova Scotian donair. Or maybe it just needed a touch of the grill to bring it out.
The toppings were fine; good for a shawarma – where they belong – but unnecessary on a donair. A margherita pizza isn’t a margherita if you add pepperoni and mushrooms to it, and a donair isn’t a donair if you put lettuce and pickled turnip on it.
The sauce was better than I expected – probably a commercial version of donair sauce that they buy, but about as good as you could expect given their environs.
Wrapping of the sandwich was done in two portions of paper – making it a bit more annoying to peel back than an original deal donair. Aluminum foil isn’t necessary – indeed its exclusive use in NS donairs is a wasteful use of an environmentally costly metal – but they need to work on their wrapping game.
Bonus points for the sign stating that they compost kitchen materials.
I’ve added another name to the list of Ottawa donair misses; Shawarma Andalos has miles to go before serving a good, authentic east coast donair. Stick to the shawarma here*.
*Not verified, just don’t bother with the donair.