November 04, 2014 Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Joseph: Understanding the Love for Shawarma and Falafel

Phone Number: +961 1 510 520

Address: Sin el Fil roundabout next to Al Saydeh church, Beirut, Lebanon ( 12PM - 11PM)

Website: https://www.facebook.com/restaurantjoseph/

Price Range: 5-15 $

It started last year with a blind tasting... 10 shawarma places and one clear winner: They said it's called Joseph. I haven’t reviewed it yet, but when I published the piece about Sahyoun, I was asked to visit Joseph and there I was... Now I understand.

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Located in the heart of Sin El Fil, facing St. Mary's church, a few meters away from the Saloumi roundabout, the shop is fully loaded with people, hungry visitors who come here mainly for the shawarma. Two huge skewers of shawarma turn around their center, cooking slowly and calmly while filling one sandwich after the other.

Joseph has been serving its hungry clientele for the last 20 years. Twenty long years at the service of Sin El Fil and the lower Metn area. Shawarma is shawarma, isn't it? Don't judge until you've tasted Joseph. Thin and fresh bread, two layers of it, wrapped around a generous portion of meat or chicken alongside accompaniments. Premium quality, without any sauces or sophistication. Pure beef, premium chicken, juicy and tender with lettuce, pickles and fries for the white meat and parsley with tarator for the brown.

A thick 8 centimeters in diameter, the sandwiches are fulfilling without being heavy. I loved the quality of the ingredients, the juiciness of the meat, the crunchiness of the vegetables and the tenderness of the bread. The adequate amount of fat, the spiciness and that's it. Not over done, and not spilling from all sides, the sandwich is really unique.

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PS: The only minus for me is their overdose of garlic. The chicken is marinated in garlic... lot's of it. Unfortunately for me, that would have to be the last time.

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That's not all. A few meters down the road, facing the public school, is the falafel shop. I was not confident of discovering something so good after visiting Sahioun and so many others last month... On a tour around Lebanon's street food, falafel, hummus or shawarma are my daily test. Falafel, known to be the top selling street food and the least expensive, is not the easiest to do well. Almost all add pickles to the sandwich masking the other flavors, the falafel tends to hard, solid and heavy on the stomach. Oil fills half your sandwich. To date, only two made me finish the sandwich completely: Sahyoun and now Joseph. 

Joseph's version is very close to Sahyoun’s. Bigger in size, the falafel are a mix of fava beans and hummus combined. Super crunchy on the outside, condensed yet feeling light on the inside, they taste great. The sandwich doesn't contain any pickles but simply radish and freshly cut tomatoes. The bread, the same used for falafel, is thick, fresh and easy to chew. A large sandwich is only LBP3,000.

I entered the shop and asked the guy to give me something fresh. He grabbed two pieces and posed them on the counter; taste he said. No bread, no condiments, the falafel ball is exceptional. Wow! I was amazed. A bite of falafel, another of pickled chili pepper... awesome!

PS: My personal choice for next time would be Sahyoun using a tiny little masked quantity of garlic which I didn't even feel while Joseph's made me sick all afternoon but it's worth the hassle.

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For lunch, I had a meat shawarma, chicken shawarma and a falafel sandwich, all of which tasted extremely good. That's premium quality, clean street food. Simplicity without any sophistication, the old fashioned way.

Now I understand why everybody talks about Joseph... And it's great.

Suitable For: Quick Eats



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been there? what was your impression? (9.13/10)

0
happy
0
good
0
euhh
0
meh!
0
nah!
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never again