Ever find yourself daydreaming of your next vacation while you’re at work? Wish you could magically transport yourself out of that cramped cubicle and escape to some exotic destination for some much-needed R & R? What if I said you could indulge your fantasy on your next lunch break? If you work downtown, Mangal Kiss Mid East BBQ could be your ticket…
Mangal Kiss is an Iranian food truck posted up at the Vancouver Art Gallery at Georgia & Hornby streets. When the name popped up on my Street Food Vancouver app it reminded me of a guy I used to work with named Mangal. I read their info and saw that they serve shishliks. Then I thought of eating Mangal’s shishlik. While the thought of kissing Mangal (let alone eating his shishlik) really grossed me out, I was hungry and it was close.
They had a deal where you could get any shawarma (regular $7 vegetarian, $8 meat) and small soup (regular $4) for a combo price of $10. The friendly, laid back operators gave a good first impression while I made my decisions. I was especially intrigued by their featured soup so I went for the deal.
The small featured soup was a puree of yam and charred ancho peppers, topped with mashed avocado mixed with onion and cilantro. The soup was sweet, smokey, and spicy, and was heated to eating temperature. I’m always happy to get soup served ready to eat; no waiting due to scalding heat, just dig right in! I know Wendy would have lapped this one up, hopefully we can go together next time.
The Chicken Kebab Shishlik was pretty big for only $8. I’d say it was a good 9 inches long and stuffed just to the point where it wouldn’t have been wrap-able if further filled. It came on a white taftoon, which is a traditional Iranian flat bread. I’m usually pretty good about asking if there’s a whole wheat option, but today I forgot. The taftoon was satisfyingly chewy and quite delicious regardless.
Okay, and here’s the money shot for all you food porn pervs: full frontal shishlik. The locally sourced Rossdown Farms chicken was buried a few bites back, but there’s a full kebab stuffed into all that salatim. What’s salatim you ask? Damned if I know, but if I had to guess I would say different salad varieties. And Mangal Kiss makes sure to give you lots of salatim. There’s:
- Purple Cabbage
- Pickled Turnips
- Moroccan Spiced Carrots
And let’s not forget the sauces! Ever had Baharat? Amba?? Zhug?!? Neither have I! But Mangal Kiss has them all and more. My shishlik included these three, from left to right: a mildly spiced Turkish BBQ sauce, a sweet and savoury mango sauce, and a middle eastern hot sauce. I’m looking forward to trying their lamb kebab next time which comes topped with a Turkish fig vinaigrette among other delicacies.
This meal really made me feel like I had been whisked off to some far flung middle east destination due to the strong, exotic flavours and vibrant colours. Forget Skittles, if you want to taste the rainbow shishliks are where it’s at! Bright purples, oranges, reds, whites, yellows, greens…and the full flavour spectrum too; one bite was sweet, the next spicy, the next smokey from the grill, then sour from the pickled veggies. I could eat this thing for days.
The only thing you could possibly find fault with is the meat:veggie ratio. If you’re a truly dedicated carnivore this may not be quite your thing, but the rest of you will probably appreciate that the single kebab is not the main player, and when taken off center stage it allows you to appreciate the other parts and their roles equally. Either way you slice it, their kebab is still over $4 cheaper than the one at Turkish restaurant Anatolia’s Gate.
I just can’t say enough good things about this place. This gull was apparently a big fan too; it was patiently waiting and staring about two feet away from me for a good ten minutes to get a leftover piece of the action. At Eat ‘n About we’re extra cautious about not giving in to trends and hype, but I have to say this is one cart that truly lives up to its fast-growing reputation. Check Mangal Kiss’ Facebook for weekly schedules.