I don’t know why, but there’s been a sudden boom of Mexican joints and Turkish cafes in Auckland recently. All I know is that I cannot take another taco or kebab. If you’re like me and yearn for a unique experience, head to Petra Shawarma. I bet you’ve never experienced Jordanian cuisine.
I found the Amy Winehouse playing in the background a bit strange, in the otherwise fully Middle Eastern themed restaurantit seemed almost out of place. From the Bohemian looking glass dispensers of various herbal waters to the motley ceiling lamps, this New North Road restaurant stands out from the dozens of Kingsland cafes and pubs it isso closely snuggled amongst. Humming along to “Rehab,” I looked at the menu and the only word I could recognise was “hummus.” With my utter lack of knowledge for Jordanian food I had to depend on what the chef/waitress/cashier multitalent 3-in-1 recommended for someone new to the Jordanian experience. Turns out it was a good idea to trust her, for it was hands down the BEST Middle Eastern food I’ve had!
What separates Petra Shawarma from other Middle Eastern eateries is that everything is made to order, food doesn’t sit behind a glass cabinet for hours before being served. The downside is perhaps the wait, especially as it is a one woman powered restaurant with a continuous stream of local patrons. If you’re in a hurry for a quick bite, maybe this isn’t the best place for you just yet. If you have a free afternoon, this is the perfect place to read a novel, or have a yarn with your mate, while you wait.
After half an hour of sitting and perusing the quirky décor, I was finally served my entrée. Petra Shawarma’s famous, crispy-on-the-outside-succulent-on-the-inside, falafels were well worth the wait. With the homemade hummus it was a match made in heaven; I could literally taste each chick pea in the hummus, it was just that fresh. A must try if you’re a hummus aficionado. After more admiring of the furnishing and more herbal water, the signature main- the shawarma- arrived. It’s similar to a kebab, but better, because it’s fresh off the fire.Every bite begins with a light crunch followed by perfectly seasoned meat that melts in your mouth. The other major difference is that the salad is on the outside of the shawarma, so that you still get your vitamins, fibre and what not, but it won’t make your shawarma soggy or bland, often experienced with kebabs or burritos.
I learnt that Jordanian coffee is served as a digestif. I also learnt that Jordanian coffee is hella strong. It’s been two hours since I had a sip, but I can still feel my heart racing. If you’re a caffeine addict, this will not disappoint you. If you’re a decaf damsel like me, it will leave a dozen butterflies in your stomach, your hands with a tremor and your heart like it’s going to jump out your chest! Aside from that fact, it was actually quite a fun; and different experience. I was a bit perplexed when I got handed a red hot “almost glowing with heat” metal urn with the coffee inside. How was I to drink it without burning my lips off? I should’ve noticed I also got given a thimble sized cup for me to pour my coffee into, so to cool down. Without any milk or sugar it’s definitely closest to a long black, but embodying its own unique flavour. I’m no connoisseur, but I could pick out the flavours of peppercorns, and star anise. My challenge to you is to taste it and let me know what you can savour! This place is definitely more of an experience than a quick in-and-out, from the coffee, to the kebabs.
Title photo cred here