One of Hamilton’s better known and well regarded fixtures, Safin Grill is a big name in the Hamilton shawarma scene. As far as I can tell, they’ve been around for decades. Not to be confused with the late Safen Grill and Cafe on King St (best shawarma of all time by the way). Safin Grill is mostly known for their original location by Limeridge Mall and Fortinos, I decided to visit their Upper Paradise campus.
The inside is nice. Thoughtfully decorated with a big clear menu. One of the gentlewomen greeted me and asked what I’d like. I ordered my sandwich and chose my toppings. I appreciate the variety of toppings on display, more on those in a minute. The gentlewomen got to work and my food was ready surprisingly fast. I also got a pop at no extra charge because it’s the lunch combo!
This is not my ideal form factor for shawarma, pulling the side open and tucking everything inside. Definitely a sit down shawarma; a bit bold for a restaurant with no seating, but there is a ledge you can stand at. The toppings are varied and pleasant. On top of the usual lettuce, tomato and pickled turnip, they also offer cucumber, sautéed onion, and what I believe to be pickled cabbage. The garlic sauce is powerful and applied liberally (a good thing). The hot sauce compliments it well, though it’s quite mild. The real challenge with this shawarma is the way they pack one ingredient at a time, making it layered inside. So you’ll be eating nothing but lettuce, then nothing but cucumber, etc. They did have the foresight to put chicken at the top and bottom at least, which leads to an odd effect. They add the sauce right at the end, so the top layer of chicken is juicy and flavourful. The bottom layer however gets no sauce at all, and it is some of the driest chicken I’ve had to date. They also don’t grill it at all, leading to crunchy raw veggies. Wow, that’s a lot of words. This is one complex shawarma.
So should you go to Safin Grill? Probably? The sandwich is on the not so great side, but shows enough promise that I’d think some of their other dishes could be great. Also, they are one of the pioneers of Hamilton shawarma, so if you’re an enthusiast like myself, you have to try it. It’s got to be one of least expensive shawarmas we’ve had on the site so far, $8.50 with a pop. 6/10
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Huge pet peeve when they don’t layer things properly and leave you with all lettuce bites -_-