Friday, July 8, 2011

Guest Post: Hamifgash

811 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 925-3550

This rating system is new and based on my experience, on a scale of 1-5, I think a 3 is fair, right?

"Glatt - Israeli - Turkish - Vegetarian Cuisine" - That pretty much sums it up, but what they also need to squeeze in there is "mediocre - diner-style - comfort foods." I guess because this is evident in the decor and demeanor of the collective staff, they don't feel a need to disclose that little additional bit.

One in our group is vegetarian, so every 3-4 weeks when we do our lunch-bunch, it's my task to find an establishment that has a variety of offerings to suit his dietary restrictions. I was in the mood for some Kabobs, so Hamifgash was our destination.

We started out with the baba/hummus plate appetizer with warm, fresh pita. Little did we know, this was to be the most redeeming quality of our meal.

I'm not sure if the pita is made in-house; it was soft, fluffy and grilled to perfection for the added outer crunch. I asked for a baba/hummus half/half combo (which isn't offered outright on the menu) and the server kindly obliged the request. The smoked eggplant puree was smoky and smooth, and was a nice complement to the garlic-y hummus. Next to D'Mitri's, this is some of the best I've had.

They offer a "Business Lunch Special" which includes choice of soup + special entree of the day. Today's special was schnitzel, and I wasn't in the mood for a cutlet, so I decided instead to get the shawarma - you can choose pita or platter and because I'd already inhaled my share of pita, I chose platter. It came out as a heaping pile of steaming rice topped with an abundance of pulled chicken and a sad side of soggy, wilted house salad.

Now, if you're in the mood for some Turkish cuisine that's more reminiscent of Chinese take-out, then this is your best bet. The shawarma was tender and flavorful, pulled from the spit and then sauteed on the flat-top to add a nice crisp to the edges of each little piece. Accented with well-cooked chunks of garlic, it was too close to teriyaki stir-fry for me - not that I didn't like it, it was quite good - but it was oily and better suited for a comforting hangover-cure on a Sunday, when I have no desire to leave the couch. The rice was nice.

My vegetarian friend had the falafel and said it was not great. "Mama's is way better." I tasted a little piece and yes, I can't imagine having to eat all of those too-dense, under-flavored, deep-fried balls; not to mention that same old, soggy and over-dressed salad accompaniment. Stick with Mama's, for sure.

The third dish was the Hamifgash Kebob - ground lamb and spices. Again, a very heavy dish, the lamb patties were pretty well seasoned, but too dense and heavy for a business lunch. If you're looking for pita & baba/hummus for take-out in center city, definitely go here. Otherwise, you'd better plan on running a 5K to make yourself feel better after eating any other dish (gut-bomb) at this Kosher diner.

This salad bar is NOT free - yet another negative. It costs $$$. I think. We were too intimidated to ask.

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