We've all eaten our share of dodgy fried chicken and toilet-grade kebabs when stricken with ferocious hunger pangs shortly after leaving the pub. Beer can do that to you.
|Got a much better takeaway than the man on the bus|
Well, almost invariably dire. There are, believe it or not, a few very special places where you can actually get something decent to eat at 12:37 AM.
The Amal Shawarma in Tooting Broadway was one such place, and over many years played a key part in my life, when my life revolved around drinking in South London.
It was, for example, where I ended up on the night of my 30th birthday following a lengthy pub crawl. And on many occasions it provided my first meal of the year, some time in the small hours of New Year's Day.
But nothing lasts forever. I and my Tooting friends drifted away from the area went there less frequently. Then, a while back it sadly disappeared, with the premises becoming yet another generic chicken shop. That, I thought was that.
But...It turns out it never really went away - within a few weeks they had reopened in new premises. Only nobody bothered to tell me until a few months ago.
London's tastiest shawarma takeaway is back in town, serving shittingly super-flavoursome wraps of meaty goodness. Yes the concept might appear superficially like your everyday doner kebab, but, trust me on this one, it's a whole world apart.
|Chicken and Lamb shawarma kebabs|
But just forget your preconceptions about kebabs in London and order a shawarma - either the aromatic, spicy lamb or the milder chicken - and enjoy the taste of something that's probably pretty fucking close to the street food of Beirut. (And even if it's nothing like the street food of Beirut it really doesn't matter because it tastes awesome!)
If you like this sort of thing, you'll be totally sold on it and other kebabs will henceforth taste like poor relations.
|Lamb shawarma being prepared|
Don't go overboard on the salad options or the sandwich press won't work. The meat should definitely dominate here, so just go for onion and tomato, and maybe a chilli for extra heat and crunch. Obviously both garlic and chilli sauces are required to complete the optimum combination of textures and flavours.
The garlic sauce is pretty intense, as if it's made mostly from garlic rather than mayonnaise. Trust me, you want this stuff on your chips. It melts down and coats them with transparent garlicky goodness.
A large shawarma and a large portion of chips (with garlic sauce, obviously) will set you back about £8, which is good value for a very hearty meal. Yes you could get a floor-sweepings doner somewhere for about half the price or a battery chicken burger meal for £2.99, but you'll only feel bad about yourself the following morning.
There are other things on the menu, but this place really isn't about those. Frankly I don't care if their falafal or chicken wings are absolute wank. It doesn't matter.
You come here to have a good late night shawarma after a few pints.
And I'm pretty thrilled that the place is back.
Where to find it...Amal Shawarma
6 Trinity Road,
SW17 7RE (map)