Monday, December 12, 2011

Gourmet Grill Masters - Irvine

This lamb shawarma wrap is probably not the thing you ought to order if you go to Gourmet Grill Masters in Irvine. The signature item that put their catering truck--which does rounds at LA’s farmers markets--on Jonathan Gold’s list of Bests is the rotisserie chicken. The Pulitzer Prize winner honored Gourmet Grill Master’s hens as the best roast birds in LA, which is high praise when you consider what’s out there.

But alas, when I came to GGM in Irvine (their first brick-and-mortar store) I was at lunch break and had no desire to mack on a juice-gushing chicken with my good shirt on. A full-on rotisserie bender complete with finger-licking and toum fouling up my breath would have to wait.

In the meantime, it was the shawarma, and it was still more food than I intended to eat in an hour. I was not prepared for its girth. This was a shawarma that beats just about all other shawarmas I’ve had in magnitude. For all intents and purposes, it was a giant Middle Eastern burrito, especially when you consider that it uses the very same pliant and pleasantly stretchy flour tortillas places like Alberto’s employ for their carne asada gut bombs. This "burrito" is just as similarly mottled to crispness in spots, a thin barrier holding back a barrage of onions, tomatoes, lettuce and seasoned lamb meat shaved from an ever-rotating spit.

Along with the excess of filling, there’s an excess of flavor within those tortilla walls. For sure they’ve slathered on a bit of garlic paste, and probably some tahini (and perhaps just a tad too much onion). Not that the lamb really needs the assist: the crumbly and griddle-singed edges of this ground meat loaf-like thing sings of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and oregano. Also contributing to distend my tummy: they gave out complimentary baskets of deep-fried mini pillows of tortilla with a minty dipping sauce on the side, just because they're nice.

Yes, I’ll try the rotisserie chicken soon. I’ve got a shirt ready to sacrifice for the occasion.

Gourmet Grill Masters
14141 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620

Wood Ranch BBQ - Irvine


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

This Middle Eastern restaurant uses tortillas for Shawarma? Am I understanding this correctly?

And once again, I can not tell if you liked this food or did not like it. I understand that it was "Big", but not much more than that.

Free fried tortilla pieces?It must be Christmas!!!

Diamond Dog - Censored by the OC Weekly

At 7:16 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

That...looks magnificent!!!

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

Went here for lunch today and got the chicken shawarma.

1. The chicken was pretty dry (shocking for a shawarma).

2. The dressing is a bit too tangy/vinegar-y to be deemed a real shawarma.

Based on these two factoids, I have to say I'm slightly disappointed and am kind of afraid to plunk down $12 to try their rotisserie chicken...

At 4:20 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I liked it.


Well this was, but the chicken? It's still on the radar.


Had the shawarma at Papa Hassan's once. Now that was way too vinegary to me...or was it lemon? My only problem with this shawarma was that they could've gone a little easier with the onion. Had wicked foul breath all afternoon.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

@elmo - the onion wasn't too bad for me. It's sad when zankou is still the best shawarma in LA that I've been able to find.

I might check out the lamb shawarma but I dunno.

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shawarma... mmmmmm


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