Chef Mohammad Abutaha moved from Amman to the Bay Area, where he couldn’t find the flavors from home, so he started a pop-up to satisfy his cravings and introduce Jordan-style street food to others. Shawarmaji’s menu is short and simple, which is best for the small operation.
The shawarma is made with chicken (Abutaha hopes to offer lamb soon, too), which is marinated in yogurt and flavored with a seven-spice blend. Abutaha toasts his spices, which adds a smoky, slightly bitter flavor to the sweet-leaning blend. For the wrap, he shaves the meat from the spit to order, adds homemade pickles and a generous slathering of potent toum, tightly rolls it up into a slender cylinder using a large flour tortilla – yes, a tortilla — and presses it on the flat top with a cast-iron press. Abutaha said in Jordan the wraps are often smaller, but there are places that serve the long version, “missile-style” like he does.
“If there was a better place for shawarma, I wouldn’t have opened this restaurant. I would just go to eat there.” - Mohammad Abutaha