I told myself I wasn’t going to do this one for a while, it’s not Hamilton enough. But Afshar’s was closed and I was hungry.
First started a few years ago in Mississauga, Shawarma Royale’s territorial ambitions have spread them all the way from Pickering to Stoney Creek, and as of a month or two ago, they’ve landed in downtown Hamilton. Located directly across from Copps Coliseum, Shawarma Royale is located in the former location of the 7-Eleven I enjoyed many hot dogs at after hockey games. So I was surprised to see 2500 hockey fans leaving the game on a Saturday evening and not one person stopping for a shawarma. Is there not a crossover between hockey lovers and shawarma lovers? Former NHLer Marc Methot says no:
First impressions were good. The restaurant is spacious, modern and clean. The menu was fairly clear about what was offered. Interestingly they offered wraps on both the conventional pita bread, as well as markook bread, which is not terribly common in these parts. I chose the pita because it was 4 bucks off.
The gentlewoman behind the counter confirmed my order of a “Queen Wrap” and very quietly asked if I was okay with garlic sauce. This was the only time I was asked for input on how the sandwich was filled. Shortly later my order was called out.
It was nothing but chicken, garlic sauce, and pickles. I’m not telling you how to like your shawarma, there’s no right or wrong with this, but I’m not a fan of pickles on my shawarma. And they were prevalent. The garlic sauce tasted and looked to be garlic infused mayonnaise. The chicken was mostly uninteresting. Despite the restaurant not being very busy, the chicken was very light on the spit. I imagine if it were more browned it could be tastier.
The pita bread was a silver lining. Heated with oil on the grill until it was just starting to toast and change colour, it was flavourful and held it’s shape great while I was eating it. It was a tidy shawarma, holding on to it’s contents throughout.
Shawarma Royale was a disappointing experience for me. The thought of good shawarma and hockey is an exciting one, but it’s just a dream. I can’t recommend Shawarma Royale unless you only have $4.99 and want to take advantage of their new location promotion. 2/10.