How far can a person go to recreate their favorite flavors from home? In the case of Shlomo Akeri, the owner of San Jose’s one-year-old Shawowrma, pretty far. From stuffing spices into his suitcase on trips back from Israel to tapping food producers in New York and Los Angeles, Akeri, who grew up eating excellent shawarma his whole life, is on a mission to bring Israeli street food to the Bay.
Judging by the crowds of diners gathering daily outside a San Jose ghost kitchen, where Shawowrma has a separate, Kosher facility, the tiny establishment is filling a void. The business, which hardly ever advertises, is open daily from 10:30 a.m. until the food runs out, offering takeout and outdoor seating, and selling shawarma, pargiyot (grilled chicken thighs), and kebabs served in a baguette, pita or laffa — a fluffy Iraqi flatbread perfect for soaking up meat juices. On Fridays only, according to an Israeli tradition, there’s a crispy chicken schnitzel stuffed into a lightly sweet fresh bun, alongside fried eggplants, pickles, lemony vegetable salads and condiments like matbucha, a spicy tomato sauce made in-house.