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20° & CLOUDY ON FRIDAY 22 NOVEMBER IN SYDNEY
By Marissa Ciampi
November 06, 2019
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Shwarmama

Surry Hills' hole-in-the-wall kebab shop by Ester's Mat Lindsay.
By Marissa Ciampi
November 06, 2019
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Sydney's multitude of takeaway kebab shops have just gotten some serious competition thanks to one of the city's top chefs. Mat Lindsay (Ester, Poly) has teamed up with Paramount Coffee Project's Russell Beard (Reuben Hills), Mark Dundon and Jin Ng to open Shwarmama: Surry Hills' new all-day kebab joint.

The tiny standing room-only restaurant is open from brekkie until 10pm every night of the week, offering up a rather succinct menu of five dishes — all for under $16. The main event is, of course, the shawarma, made using New South Wales lamb that has been marinated and cooked on a traditional slow-rotating, vertical shawarma spit. It's sliced to order and served in soft-but-chewy laffa flatbread.

Also on the menu, you'll find fried-to-order herb falafel stuffed in a pita with tahini, hummus, pickles and cabbage; an Israeli breakfast sandwich called sabich that's stuffed with fried eggplant and a boiled egg; and the NHSP (non-halal snack pack) with chips and juicy chicken doused in tahini, hummus and garlic sauce. All of those sauces and add-ons are made in house, too, including the hot sauces, pickles and other condiments. You can also grab a plate of hummus for $10 and a salted choc-chip and sesame cookie for six big ones.

The venue is also fully licensed, with a Victorian fiano and NSW nebbiolo currently available on tap, as well as a wild-fermented beer from Marrickville brewery Wildflower. Plus, you can make yourself a coffee at the DIY espresso machine — but, if you'd like something fancier (a hand-poured filter or silky flat white, for example) we suggest you wander up the road to PCP, which is a mere 100 metres away.

Before you do, though, take a good look around the space. Designed by Anthony Gill (who's also behind Ester and Poly), it combines an industrial feel (textured glass, steel and polished concrete) with marble bench tops (primed for leaning) and pops of red from signs, trays and merch. And we're guessing you're going to find it hard to leave without an eye-catching red-and-white souvenir, too, in the form of a caps, a tee or a mug emblazoned with "Mama's Got You" and "Come to Mama".

Shawarmama is now open at Shop 2, 106–112 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills. Opening hours are Monday–Friday 8am–3.30pm and 5–10pm, and Saturday–Sunday 10am–10pm.

Images: Kitti Gould.

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