Best shawarma is shop-bought

Too dry? Too chewy? Too greasy? Those were the questions on the lips of the audience at Israel Connect's first Shawarma Showdown.

The lighthearted contest was organised to settle one of the community's favourite debates - who makes London's best kosher shawarma?

More than 70 people tucked in to different versions of the popular Israeli dish at a north-west London pub on Sunday evening. And in the tradition of X Factor and Strictly, the voting brought a surprise winner.

Shawarma fans were provided with five helpings - as well as essentials such as pitta, hummus and salad - and asked to score them out of 10 for taste, quality of meat, appearance and other defining qualities.

It's a good way to celebrate the culinary culture

As the blind-tasting session began, participants were told that the shawarmas were from kosher restaurants in London, but the source of each was not revealed.

Audience member Mark Ayzenshteyn "quite liked some of the shawarmas. One was just moist enough and not too oily.

"It's a good opportunity to chat to people and enjoy the food."

After the tasting, the points were totalled and the winner was the one non-restaurant offering - the "heat and eat" Yarden shawarma. Fans approved of its tasty chunky chicken and turkey strips.

Solly's in Golders Green came in second and the nearby White House Express finished in bronze medal position.

Two Hendon restaurants brought up the rear, Sami's coming fourth and Adam's last. Both shawarmas were judged to be too greasy, with one taster describing the appearance of Adam's shawarma as "disgusting".

Organiser Gary Sakol, director of Israel Connect - the Zionist Federation's branch for young professionals - said the contest was designed "to bring people together and have some fun while helping them to feel closer to Israel".

For taster Peter Levy it was a first Israel Connect event "and I've had a very good evening. It's something different and a good way to celebrate the culinary culture. Food brings people together."

    Last updated: 3:07pm, November 3 2011