So, where in Riyadh is the best shawarma found? I have no idea but I have a suggestion. And it’s highly-recommended! Assaraya Turkish Restaurant is home to one of the best shawarmas in Riyadh. I’m not sure if their shawarma is Turkish (because I can never really tell shawarmas apart) but I’m sure it contains what I want most about my shawarma: chicken grilled just right, semi-soggy fries, soft bread, and aromatic garlic sauce.
When I was first introduced to Assaraya, I thought it was just another shawarma and kebab place. Sure it looks nice on the outside with its green and yellow sign and see-through glass walls in the men’s area where the chicken is being grilled in rotating vertical spits, but it’s still just a shawarma place. What more can I expect from it? Turns out, eating in Assaraya is quite an experience! The location of Assaraya in Thalateen is usually clogged, which is a bad sign for motorists but a good sign for diners. It means a lot are willing to brave the evening crowd to eat in Assaraya so it must be that good.
Upon entering the family section of Assaraya, I was greeted with a sense of authenticity. The chandelier and lamps give the place a homey yet elegant feel. They have a waiting area with a miniature nature scene on the side – stuffed animals and artificial plants. The family section is large and can accommodate several families at a time. But each dining partition is rather small. That amount of space coupled with the warm glow of the lights, stuffy ventilation, and the heavy curtains covering each room, gave me a little bit sense of claustrophobia but nothing a good meal can’t fix. The waiters are attentive and they try to explain the unfamiliar names of dishes in the menu, which offers a lot of choices.
We began with the bread and the dips that had us at first swipe: the hummus with butter and baba ghanoush. The hummus with butter became an instant favorite. Give us that and a few warm bread and we’ll eat them with gusto any time. The baba ghanoush is soft and smoky. I balked at the tabouleh because I was never a fan of parsley but a friend can finish this salad all on her own. We proceeded with our shawarmas: the jumbo and the plate. I couldn’t really complain about their shawarma because it’s delicious in its simplicity. The chicken is roasted well and the fries are sparse but okay. The garlic sauce is light but flavorful and the bread that wraps them all up is soft and chewy. One jumbo shawarma can send me home fulfilled and happy. I like the jumbo shawarma better than the regular one because of the bread. It spells a huge difference for me. We tried their kebabs, boneless chickennn, and mixed grill too.
The meats are tender, juicy, and perfect on their own. We also tried the chicken dish in a clay pot and it was good too although nothing spectacular; the tomato base has a sour kick to it. The grilled prawns were too salty. I love their strawberry juice, as well as their melon juice. They’re sweet, pulpy, and refreshing. The food of Assaraya is straight-forward, simple, delicious, and affordable. Nothing too fancy. That’s why I like them very much.Assaraya Turkish Restaurant,