Hi Folks! Before Christmas my beau and I decided to go on a date; but not one of these fancy dates we usually do, just a casual —friday night in a dark and gloomy december— type of date. One where you are still doing something fun but does not require as much effort.
So we set our minds on going for the traditional : dinner and a movie. Let’s Go, Yalla!
The foodie that I am still meant that I wanted to go somewhere exciting, new and interesting to grab a bite. Going to the gym, I always walk by the new up and coming Fort “Commons” on Blanshard Street, where they developed that block by adding some new, interesting and cool shops. One of them shop is Yalla, a middle eastern eatery reflecting the cooking style of Tel Aviv in Israel.
Yalla means “Come on” or “Hurry up” and wen I walk by it, their sign advertising Shawarma always made me intrigued. I quite like Shawarmas and so does my beau; so when came date night, it did not take much to convince him to go try that new (and always packed) place. Definitely an up and coming little eatery.
This place, tastefully designed, is order-at-the-counter type of restaurant. There are tables to seat down, and they do bring your food at the table. Being in a new place makes me want to try everything on the menu, so we got loose ordering : Shawarma, the Hawaij Spiced Fries and the Halloumi Kale Salad. YUM ! It was different. A different experience in spices and it did make me travel to the Middle East – every bite was a ray of sunshine shining on my face and it felt warm and cosy, a very much needed blanket of comfort food on a cold and rainy night of december (in an healthy way).
My favourite was the Halloumi and Kale salad, first because I love fried Halloumi and also it balanced the acidity of the vinaigrette. Then the spices elevated the dish to a new level, adding complexity, making it healthy and gourmet. And if you never tried Halloumi before (a cheese made of goat’s and sheep’s milk from Cyprus), then that is a perfect way to start as they cook it to perfection. I highly recommend it as I find myself day-dreaming about it.
The Shawarma was a little different from what I am used to growing up in the street of a mediterranean city. I was expecting more of a “heavy” dish with white sauce (that I love), whereas this Shawarma was on the healthier side, but still full of flavours with hummus, tahini and beets; quite unusual but it does work all together. The lamb was juicy and moist , perfect addition to the pita.
The fries were… Fries. Nothing that special about them but, the Yougurt Dip changed the game. Just for that dip, the fries are worth the try. The Hawaij spice is a mix of many different spices (cumin, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and more) so it does add spiciness to the dish, which is later cooled down by the yogurt dip. Ingenious.
After feasting and drinking a really good Kombucha (they do not serve alcohol), we left to go to the movie and spoiled our eyes with the amazing design of the movie : Fantastic Beast and where to find them.
So what are you waiting for ? Let’s Go, Yalla!
Victoria BC, first published January 10, 2017.