As a first time visitor to Pasha’s Mediterranean Cafe, I literally had no idea what to expect walking in to this place, which is located at 3904 Bardstown Road in the heart of the Hikes Point area. I showed up for lunch on a Tuesday around noon ready to feast on some otherworldly food from another country, maybe because I was feeling adventurous, or perhaps this decision was based on a motive to make myself feel more cultured. The sort of “attaboy” that we white people give ourselves whenever we venture out of our culinary comfort zone.
Whatever. I was hungry, and Pasha’s is pretty close to my house, so this is where I spent a few bucks on food that eventually made a fancy turd that has long since been flushed down a Costco toilet.
Before I was seated in the dining area, I walked through the hookah bar, which takes up about half of the building. Hookah-ing certainly ain’t my thing, but it seemed like a nice space to sit down and relax while listening to music through some earbuds. I was given a laminated menu with blurred, pixelated text and pictures that didn’t really offer much explanation of what each dish was, so I decided on the special: The Shawarma sandwich.
So what the hell is shawarma, anyway? I definitely wasn’t sure before ordering, but after some quick Google research I was educated: “Shawarma is a Levantine meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, buffalo meat, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day.” Cool. I chose chicken. But because I was particularly hungry, I decided to order some falafel as a starter. It was delivered to my table pretty quickly, and here’s what it looked like:
The falafel was served on a plate with a soufflé cup full of creamy tahini sauce. Each little ball of fried garbanzo beans was perfectly crispy on the outside with a soft, fluffy interior. I shoved them into my face quickly, then anxiously waited until my shawarma sandwich showed up (in less than 10 minutes, the service here is quick!). So it turns out, this isn’t really a sandwich at all, it’s more of a wrap, or a mediterranean burrito if you will… here’s what it looked like when it was placed in front of me:
Served with fries, my shawarma sandwich was composed of seasoned diced chicken and pickles wrapped inside a warm, toasted pita. At first bite, I immediately noticed a righteous curry flavor that while not subtle, didn’t take over the taste of the perfectly prepared meat. Each bite had a combination of succulent meat and a tiny crunch from the sliced pickle nestled inside. The wrap wasn’t over-complicated, allowing each ingredient to stand out while every bite was a consistent experience.
To get a better look on what exactly is inside of this thing, I cut it in half and took a picture:
This “sandwich” wasn’t huge but deceivingly filling as I wasn’t able to finish it after generous helpings of falafel and french fries. Whenever I’m unable to finish a meal I’m really into I consider it to be a minor bummer. Oh well. My introductory Pasha’s Mediterranean Grill experience was a quick one, clocking in at just under a half an hour. The service was quick and the food was fantastic, leaving me almost nothing to complain about aside from a weird couple sitting adjacent from us that insisted on feeding each other with their bare hands. That’s gross.
But damn, as an initiatory course into the world of shawarma, I’m definitely excited to try other variations of this traditional meat preparation.