Mona’s Turkish Shawerma House
Eagerly anticipating our first trip to the Middle East next month that will include stays in Turkey, Israel and Egypt (provided, of course, that Iceland’s fuming volcano doesn’t thwart our flight plans over the Atlantic), it was either divine intervention or just dumb luck that we stumbled upon a delightful little place on Farwell Avenue that couldn’t have prepared us better for the trip.
In the culinary sense, that is.
A nine-year veteran of the Astor Hotel’s kitchen, Wahid Dakak has parleyed his life experience into Mona’s Turkish Shawerma [sic] House where he creatively mingles popular elements of Turkish, Syrian, Egyptian and other Mid-eastern cuisines into the wide array of dishes.
The small but immaculate kitchen serves over-the-counter to customers in his tastefully decorated storefront dining room with only three tables and four stools at the window counter. Born in Syria and a long-time resident of Ankara, Turkey before immigrating to the States and becoming a U.S., citizen, Wahid lends a personal touch to his menu selections that offers each dish a strong note of cultural authenticity.
The menu is comprehensive for such a small operation, which also provides take-out service, catering and delivery. Appetizers and salads include Turkish Motabel (smoked, roasted eggplant pureed with a distinctive blend of spices, served with tomato, parsley and green pepper), Istanbul Baba Ghanouj (eggplant, parsley, red pepper, garlic, cucumber, seasoned in a light lemon dressing and pomegranate sauce), Halabi Hummus for $3.50, Tulip Fattush (large salad of red onion, tomato, lettuce, red radish, green pepper, red pepper, black olive, white cheese with vinegar-apple-lemon dressing), Tabuli (bed of lettuce, chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion and crushed wheat served with lemon juice and olive oil) and Kibbee Sageyah (wheat fritters stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onion, walnut, pistachio and pine nuts) — all for less than $4.
Wahid offers some nice combo dinners featuring many of the above items on the same plate ranging in price from about $5.00 to almost $9.00, as well as beef or chicken pizza for a fine price. Sides include rice, pita bread, falafel and French fries. A nice assortment of soda, tea, sour-good Turkish yogurt drinks and other non-alcohol beverages compliments the tasty dessert menu with baklava (99¢), baked macaroons ($1.25), handsome fruit tarts ($1.59 to $3.25) and other exotic specialties.
Mr. M. had the Halabi (Mona’s) Kofta combo plate. That’s ground beef (or lamb) with Turkish spices, rolled into long, cigar-shaped pieces and nicely charred, served on a bed of beautiful, golden-yellow rice with the Turkish baba ghanouj and a green salad with Mid-east dressing on the side. For only $6.95, it was succulent and filling. Mrs. M. thoroughly enjoyed Mona’s beef shawarma combo dinner featuring savory beef shawarma meat and a skewer’s worth of tender-grilled beef shish kabob served on the same delicious rice with one’s choice of hummus or motabel and salad (plus pita bread and pickles) for $9.99.
Everything from the plastic dinnerware to the close quarters of the small dining room right on the busy avenue ( not to mention great prices and quick service with a big smile) give this place what we think is the true ambiance and feel of an urban street eatery in the Mid-east. Barring any volcanic interruptions next month from Björk’s homeland, Mr. & Mrs. M. shall soon find out.
So, what didn’t we like about this place? That would be us not checking it out sooner than we did!
Mona’s Turkish Shawerma House
1814 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee
Major credit cards accepted
The season for outside grilling is upon us! Try our so very tasty shish kabob marinade recipe the next time you fire up the grill.
In a large bowl combine:
¾ cup sherry cooking wine
½ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 tablespoon hot red-pepper sauce (Thai chili sauce works great)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Mix all the ingredients well, then add in and coat well with the marinade up to two pounds of beef, chicken or lamb, cut into large, one-inch cubes. Refrigerate the marinating meat in the bowl for at least one hour, then bring it back to room temperature before skewering with your favorite vegetables and grilling over a high flame (or broiling in the oven) until the meat is slightly charred and oh-so delectable.
This recipe should produce enough marinade for up to eight kabobs, depending on how much meat you use. Serve over rice with pita bread and a green salad with sliced tomatoes and red onion, all dressed nicely with the Tahini sauce we furnished everyone the recipe for in our review of Abu’s Jerusalem of the Gold back in November.