Perfect Plate

Hamilton, like many cities, has a sketchy, rundown, old mall downtown. It’s called Jackson Square. What’s unique in Hamilton is that mall is attached to another mall that is sketchier, more rundown, and surprisingly newer.

Hamilton City Centre is the worst shopping mall in the world. There’s no stores you’ve ever heard of. You can only buy rugs, cell phone repair, and I heart Canada shirts. Nobody shops there. No one. The food court only has one store left, and guess what, they sell shawarma.

A shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon. Notice the shopper on the left.

Perfect Plate has been sitting in the International Food Fair food court for decades, watching the world die around them. A husband and wife operation, they want to share tastes of their homeland Persia (aka Iran) with the good people of downtown Hamilton.

I headed to the counter. I was happy to see a vertical spit in the restaurant, but a little concerned to see a piece of paper tucked into the heating elements. Must not get much use. After ringing the bell three times, the gentleman emerged from the back. He probably couldn’t hear me because of the loud high pitched humming echoing throughout the mall. I ordered a chicken shawarma, and the gentleman gathered some chicken and headed into the back with it.

After a fairly lengthy wait, the gentleman came back out and handed me my wrap. Curious to see what was in it I headed straight home to eat it.

What a bizarre shawarma. The pita is quite thin and toasted enough that it was crumbling into pieces. You can see the lettuce through it. There’s a considerable amount of large tomato chunks, something I’ve never seen on shawarma before. The chicken was very different too, cut into little chunks that almost reminds me of Indian food. Maybe that’s it, let’s take a quick geography lesson.

Shawarma is traditionally a Levantine dish, you’ll often see shops with roots in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Persia is farther east, between the Levant and India. So this strange shawarma is a bit of a blend of different regional traditions. Here’s the problem: it’s terrible. It tastes like biting into a tomato. The pita is so fragile I couldn’t finish eating it before the whole wrap collapsed into a pile of crumbs.

So should you head down to Hamilton City Centre to visit the only shop left in it’s basement food court? No. No you shouldn’t. While Perfect Plate is the 2nd most enjoyable thing in the mall (I had more fun riding the glass elevator) it just really falls short of what good shawarma should be. At least it’s cheap, 6 bucks. But yeah, don’t go. 1/10

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