When you're checking reviews online and you come across a place you had no idea even existed and there is nothing but 4-5 star ratings down the line, it kind of peaks your interest right?
I know it does with us.
In fact, we are the ones that are totally enthralled with a restaurant that boasts loads of 5 stars, a few 4s, couple of 3s here and there then a bunch of 1s. You're like, 'wait, is this place...good, or is it a bucket of urinal cakes soaked in farts?' It is then up to us to go there, get a bunch of food, eat it and judge for ourselves. In fact, that's the whole idea behind online review sites; everybody has an opinion, everybody has a different experience and everyone takes something away from that place in their own way. That's why I'm not big on reviews in newspapers and magazines. One dude/dudette with the power of a publication behind him/her can walk into a place, not have a good time then write about it which reaches thousands, if not more, people and then sullies the name of a joint that is a favorite to a whole other lot. Maybe the cook was having a bad day, perhaps they accidentally dropped sugar in when it was meant to be salt. It happens.
We have heeded the call of the online opinions and have come away equally stoked and disgusted. But a place in the Tucson Mall has garnered almost nothing but 5 stars and for that reason alone we set aside our contempt for all things shopping arenas and had to check it out.
|A lot of food for not a lot of money|
Here's the thing: When we got to the food court almost every other stand had a line...except Kebab King, the reason for our visit. Checking again on the online reviews, we just had to be sure that this was the spot.
Yep. It was.
When I talked to the smiling gentleman at the front counter he informed me that the owners of Kebab King are also the ones that run Babylon Market on Speedway.
Oh. I see. It's all starting to coming together now.
With that in mind we decidedly ordered up a good amount of stuff to sample so here is what we thought.
|Small shawerma, big flavor|
We liked the fact that you can choose a size shawerma that you want; small, regular or jumbo. Seeing as we got a decent allotment of what they offer, and that we hadn't had their food yet, we went for a small shawerma.
Even for it being 'small' it was pretty hefty. It was about street cart burrito sized and it made us wounder what the 'jumbo' option looks like. Next time.
The flavor and textures were there. It was a pretty classic shawerma, nice and mellow with spice while nestled with fresh tomatoes and lettuce. I was totally happy with this.
The tzatziki was good too; cool and creamy with a distinct cucumber and lemony bite. So far we could see how this colorful stand in a busy food court could hold down a 4-5 star rating.
But why weren't there more patrons? It was high lunchtime and folks were queued up for sloppy fast food and greasy "Asian" fare.
|Get those olives offa my salad!|
Our salads were really good as well. All of the components, lettuce, red onion, crispy pita bits, cucumber, feta cheese, was bright and flavorful. The only thing that threw us off was the dressing.
It was really olive-y.
And that is something we can't get behind: Olives. Blecch.
I personally can't stand them and if you have been keeping up with this blog you know this. Unfortunately on almost everything we ordered there were olives. Just be warned: For those that despise the lil briny dingleberries of Satan just say "No!" when you come to visit Kebab King. We didn't know.
Now we know.
The dressing was just a little too overpowering for us and that is the only complaint you will hear.
Otherwise, yep...good stuff.
|The hummus was amazing...except for that olive!|
Outside of the salad being a bit disappointing, the hummus made up for any shortcomings because of our disdain for olives. Yes, there was an olive perched proud right in the middle but it was easily removed and flung towards Forever 21.
Maybe a little heavy-handed with the olive oil (we like olive oil just not olives...go figure) but otherwise it was perfect. Silky, great use on simple spices, tahini and a good amount of garlic. This made me want to drive over to Babylon and purchase a bin of this stuff. A bin!
The pita was a great accomplice. Warm, fluffy on the inside with a tight grill on the exterior. We couldn't get enough.
As mopey shoppers shuffled by pushing strollers under florescent mall lights, we danced and delighted with our lunchtime win. Our smiles probably threw some of them off but we didn't care.
We were digging into the food at Kebab King and were really digging what they were doing.
Finally we dove into some signature plate dishes. We opted for a chicken shish tikka and a gyro platter. Once again, we got the 'regular' size and were stunned how generous they were.
The basmati saffron rice was awesome, very flavorful and toothsome. It went really well with the hearty cuts of meat that were just brimming with flavor. Luckily our plates came with more hummus. Yay! With a side of fresh vegetables that had just a slight dribble of herby oil and vinegar we were stoked to get acquainted with the Kebab King.
It's a good amount of food for not a lot of bread. We left full and elated and maybe spent around $30 for all of it. We will definitely be back and for me I go to the mall every now and then to get some new Vans so when I do I'm gonna sample more wares from the King.
Now we can see why this place has such good ratings. But they need more customers.
It's up to you Tucson.
See you there...
|Everything was so good but the olive? Yeah...no.|
Eating, Typing and Camera
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
I'm in a mall!, Early Summer 2017