Oct 11, 2010

Sababa Pita Bar 沙巴巴中東美食


Address:    台北市和平東路二段118巷54弄8號 (和平店)
                   No. 8, Alley 54, Lane 118, Section 2, HéPíng East Rd, Da-an District
Phone #:    02-2738-7769
Website: http://www.sababapita.com/
Price Range:   $$
Accepts Credit Cards: idk
Attire: casual
Good for kids: no
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: no
Outdoor seating:  yes
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 3 out of 5
Decor:  3 out of 5
Service: 2.5 out of 5
Overall: 2.8 out of 5
Recommendation: Slightly overvalued middle eastern fare.


After weeks of eating Asian food, I grew weary of the soy saucyness of it all. My tongue needed something else. Being tethered to a mile radius around NTU, I was delighted to hear that there is a Middle Eastern restaurant called "Sababa Pita Bar". Browsing the website before heading over, I was already drawn to the promising Lamb Shawarma. Sababa Pita Bar is a restaurant chain featuring Middle-Eastern delicacies from Iranian Chicken to Lebanese Lamb. They feature a selection of gyros made from hand-rolled pita bread. The prices range from 98 NT to 288 NT, so an you can expect to spend at around 150 NT. Although the Lamb Shawarma was just mediocre, the store is a nice place to knock back a couple of beers with your friends over Middle Eastern Food.

The HePing Sababa Pita Bar's interior is very cozy. It can seat up to 14 people max, but they have extra seating next door for larger groups. When you enter, you gotta go to the bar top and order first before you get seated. There are four basic categories to choose from: pita, orzo rice, platas. and salads. I ordered a Lamb Shawarma and shuffled into the back to get seated.

The interior was not very clean, and the restroom was sort of danky, but I figured that was done on purpose to create a Middle Eastern vibe. The space has a sandy feel to it, and the use of mosaic tile tables hinted at the Middle Eastern theme. So I gave the decor a 3 out of 5 being apt, but not very clean or comfortable.

The service here was very abrupt, but it's mainly because 2 people have to cater to 20 customers, and they were just too busy. They placed my order, plopped the food on my table, and resumed work. This isn't a place to go if you want to be pampered. Yet, this is the type of service you typically expect from a Middle Eastern joint. They might have been merely trying to keep an authentic atmosphere. Still I have to rate the service a 2.5 out of 5. It does not mean that they were very rude, but just don't expect a waiter in the traditional sense.

I don't think I have ever tried authentic Middle Eastern Food, so my review on food quality might not be very trustworthy here. The most authentic Lamb Shawarma I had was probably the one served by the Middle Eastern Student Association at UC Irvine during a fair. My pita experiences were usually from Greek restaurants, and I don't recall what a Falafel is supposed to taste like. Nevertheless, I did not think the Lamb Shawarma was good.

I found that their hand-rolled freshly made pitas to be quite brittle, and they would not hold the ingredients as well. I had to reposition my fingers as fissures emerged after a series of bites. The pita was also not very fluffy, so it was essentially more like a thicker Mission flour tortilla to me. I think the pita would have been a lot better if they grilled it with oil before serving instead of serving it cold. Besides improving the pita, they should increase the meat to vegetable ratio of the gyro, even if it means that they need to jack up the price. There just wasn't enough slices of lamb to get a savory bite out of the gyro. The lettuce, pickle, and tomato would dilute the flavor. This is probably done to cater to the locals, who generally don't like heavy seasoning. Yet with its shortcomings, it was something different, so I was comforted by the fact that I still can get something that resembled a gyro in Taiwan. I will need to come back and try the other items, which may lead me to change the current food rating of 3 out of 5.

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