Kosher chicken and turkey shawarma from Manghal (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
For the past couple of years, whenever I would have to take kosher friends out to dinner, we would naturally visit Taboun, which now has two locations - in Rogers Park as well as in Skokie, just off of the Edens. Kosher restaurants tend to be dairy-only, but Taboun always has excellent shawarma and steak on their menu, making it one of the best kosher meat options in the area. ‚ But a few weeks ago, I got an email from a viewer who told me about this new place called Manghal, up on Howard Street, right on the Southern cusp of Evanston. The name means "grill" in four languages, so kebabs are a given. I checked it out a few weeks ago, and was immediately struck by the fact they use both turkey and chicken in the shawarma, and only dark meat at that. It's juicy, it's tender and it achieves a nice little crisp edge from the vertical broiler.
Then there is the issue of what to do with those tender, succulent pieces of shawarma. ‚ You could place them into a simple pita with a little hummus and some Jerusalem salad, but that would be so Sultan's. Instead, opt for the warm, freshly-baked laffa, constantly being pulled from the enormous taboun, or vertical oven (how's that for irony). The laffas average a diameter of about 14 inches, and as you can see in the picture above, they're pretty generous in size. Now imagine wrapping up the shawarma, along with some tahini and a vibrant, chunky Jerusalem salad full of cukes and tomatoes. With its edges bulging over the edges of the plate, I could barely eat half the sandwich. The other reason I was too full has to do with the salads. So many great options to choose from, including a mildly spicy Moroccan eggplant and some tomato-laced chickpeas. The salad sampler was so varied, so colorful, it almost made me think it was an Israeli nod to the traditional Korean side dishes called banchan.
Salad Sampler from Manghal (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
If you want to see more from Manghal, you can always check out my story on ABC after 11 a.m. right here.