Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
Lately I have been receiving many invitations to try restaurants away from the city core in municipalities such as Laval, the West Island and the South Shore. It is only natural to see such opening activity in these remote areas as they constitute the next frontier for restaurants to conquer given how saturated the scene is in the centre and suburbanites' decreasing willingness to visit it.
Being in the opposite situation myself, as a Westmount resident I normally shy away from trying these far-removed locations. However, as a Middle Easterner, I could not resist lunch at Yalla Taouk – a shawarma joint in Laval's Saint-Vincent-de-Paul district – on this blistering Saturday. At least the forty-minute, traffic-laden drive was rewarded by easy parking at the locale's strip-mall setting.
Operating out of a thirty-seat space, Yalla Taouk boasts a sleek, minimalistic interior making use of white and gray tones. Accents are provided by means of a wall-to-wall banner depicting food items and calligraphy as well as a tiled oriental backsplash. The lunch service was mostly quiet with a handful of diners eating on site, although a steady stream of delivery drivers kept popping in and out while I was there.
Yalla Taouk offers a typical Middle Eastern shawarma shop menu. Chicken and beef are served either sliced or skewered in sandwich or plate format. The "novelty" here is the possibility of a sandwich in a "baguette" of sorts. Other options include falafel, couscous, poutine and an assortment of mezze such as hummus, moussaka, stuffed vine leaves, garlic potatoes and various salads.
Today I tried both a beef and chicken shawarma sandwich; one in pita bread, the other in a baguette, to cover all the bases. While I did not test the meat – which is halal – by itself, the sandwich came together nicely as a whole, balancing the seasoned meat and hummus against pickles and kabees. Next up, I ordered garlic potatoes, tabbouleh and a cabbage salad to share, which ended up costing under $10 per person; quite a bargain!
Opened a mere month before the COVID-19 pandemic, Yalla Taouk surely had a tumultuous first year of operation. With the lifting of restrictions earlier this summer, the situation appears to be on the rebound.
As a concept, I certainly appreciate whenever an entrepreneur goes against the big three shawarma players of Amir, Basha and Boustan. Would I personally cross this distance again to eat here? Perhaps not, but Laval folks should definitely check it out. Yalla!
Price per person: $10
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.