Shawarma Gourmet restaurant was zealously suggested to us by my wife’s cousin. And so on one cloudy Tuesday afternoon, my wife and I drove our scooter all the way to the restaurant’s location in Escario Central Strip Mall. The restaurant was easy to find as it is just located a few meters from the main Escario street which is accessible from both the northern and southern part of the city. It has ample space for parking too.
We arrived a few minutes before lunchtime and the restaurant was already teeming with people.The restaurant occupied two stall spaces; one where the kitchen and counter were located and the other served as an extension of the dining area. Its facade was adorned with middle eastern fixtures. While its compact yet cozy interior was decorated with simple yet cognizable middle eastern tapestry. The interior ambience was cool and comfortable with the air conditioning unit blasting cold air. It was well lit too. Tables and chairs are provided outside if you prefer an outdoor open-air setting.
My wife’s cousin arrived before us who then welcomed and ushered us to an empty table. She later introduced us to the very friendly and accommodating owner Mansour Horan, a Lebanese expat who married a Cebuana. Despite being busy attending the kitchen, he came to our table to check on us and we had a quick chat. Mansour told us that the restaurant has been operating in Cebu for more than 6 years already. To make sure that the ingredients are fresh and prepared up to the standard to maintain high quality, they operated their very own commissary.Also, their ingredients are mostly imported. He added that the restaurant thrived even with the current pandemic situation affecting the world over, thanks to the ever-supportive loyal customers.
I asked Mansour about the Shawarma Gourmet name and from what I understand it is just a simplification to make the brand more relatable and familiar. Possibly because locals are sometimes dissuaded from checking restaurants that are using foreign-sounding names, especially those that are difficult to pronounce. He made it clear though that it is not only shawarma dishes that they offer but a wide range of Lebanese and middle eastern food as well.
We were not yet familiar with middle eastern food or Lebanese food for that matter and so we asked for some recommendations for their best dishes to try. And then we ordered. After a few minutes, our food arrived in droves. We did not expect the serving to be very generous. Each of the servings was just overly stuffed with pure Lebanese food goodness.
Lined up on the table were the hummus, chicken shawarma, beef shawarma, pita bread, and more. There were pizzas too (also called manakish in Lebanese terms) named sojuk (which is Lebanese chorizo) and chef-style combo pizza of labneh made of strained yoghurt and zaatar (thyme-oregano). The dippings were tantalizing like the creamy hummus and gooey baba ganoush. The thick-cut “spiced and crispy fries” were addicting. The assortment of mouth-watering dishes was topped off with salad servings namely; tropicale, watermelon with feta and labneh, tabbouleh, and fattoush which were a delight to the palate.
They had several drinks and beverages to choose from including fresh fruit smoothies. But they served lemon ice tea too which my wife opted for. I got myself the “berry banana smoothie” which was refreshingly good with some zesty twists to it. Perhaps the added secret middle eastern ingredient made it more exciting. It was not overly sweet, just the right sweetness for my taste.
Our stomachs were filled right up to the brim after eating just a few of their served dishes. Each serving was just stuffed and so well worth it.
They offered pork-free dishes. They were not oily and had no greasy aftertaste. Pricing was reasonable too. As a disclaimer, the meals we got were complimentary courtesy of my wife’s cousin and Mansour.
My wife remembered that she visited the restaurant before the pandemic with some friends. You can find the article as posted here Shawarma Gourmet-Cebu – Cebu Live . According to her, food quality remained the same.
Past lunchtime, the restaurant was still bustling with activity with customers coming in and out. We noticed that most of them were regular patrons who knew Mansour well and even greeted him with his first name. The gesture was likewise reciprocated. In Shawarma Gourmet, you will not only get authentic Lebanese food; you will also gain a friend as the affable owner will always find time to assist and chat with you whenever he is around.
And so for middle eastern or Mediterannean food lovers out there or simply those who want something new for their discerning palates, Shawarma Gourmet is the restaurant to go to. If you are craving right now, here are their contact numbers; +63 32 4120166, +63 920 6659566, & +63 995 4567648. Here’s their FB page www. facebook. com/ shawarmagourmet_cebu. They have their own motorcycle delivery personnel but I think you can arrange with other online delivery services like Lalamove to get your order.