If you are a follower of my Instagram account, you have definitely noticed my unwavering love for Mohamed Ali’s amazing sandwiches. Mohamed Ali‘s is located at 177 Duckworth Street in downtown, St.John’s which was the old location of Taste of Thai. With a complete remodel, they have gone with a minimalistic, yet inviting, casual atmosphere.
The seating is simple and understated, while the walls are lined with art, which is for sale. Whether you are eating in or taking out, it’s worth your time to take a look around the walls and see some of the great talent out there.
Featured above in the portrait is Mohamed Ali’s owner, Ali Al Haijaa, who has quite an amazing story. Al Haijaa’s parents were refugees from Palestine who settled in Iraq however, upon civil unrest, they were forced to relocate. At this time Al Haijaa found himself in a refugee camp in Jordan, where he remained for four years waiting for another country to take him in.
After those four years, Al Haijaa was accepted by Canada and was assigned to Newfoundland and Labrador, which has now been his home for just over seven years. Upon his first arriving, Al Haijaa began selling street food out of a van – which unfortunately met some difficulties with strict food regulations that were far from what he was used to. However, being such a strong and resilient individual, he began selling his authentic middle eastern cuisine during after-hours at The Sprout – which I know a lot of people remember fondly.
Then, in March of 2014, Al Haijaa opened his own location, Mohamed Ali’s Middle Eastern Cuisine. Here they serve a selection of authentic, fresh and one of the only in St.John’s, halal food. The direct meaning of ‘halal’ is ‘permissible’ – meaning that halal food adheres to Islamic law, as defined by the Koran, in regards to what foods are used and how it is prepared. Although we may not all be concerned with the details of halal, I believe it is important to note as it emphasizes the care put into the food by the owner, the chefs and the thoughtfulness behind every ingredient. A chef that believes and is proud of his work, creates amazing food.
Mohamed Ali’s menu is quite extensive, encompassing various appetizers, hummus, variations of sandwiches, salads, a large selection of main courses and a few desserts. You can view the menu here. Admittedly, I have yet to try any of the main courses. As I have mentioned above, I just can’t see past the amazing sandwiches. My two favourite sandwiches are the Falafel Sandwich and the Chicken Shawarma Sandwich.
The Falafel Sandwich, as shown above, features three perfectly fried, golden pieces of falafel with lettuce, red turnip pickles, tomatoes, cucumber, and tahini sauce, wrapped in a pita.
The Chicken Shawarma Sandwich, as shown above, is layered with delicately sliced chicken shawarma, shredded lettuce, red turnip pickles, tomatoes, and tahini sauce wrapped in pita bread.
These sandwiches are full-flavoured, fresh and just delicious. They are so good that every time I visit Mohamed Ali’s, I have the hardest time deciding what to order – because I want it all. I’m sure you foodies understand. Which of course, is why there are appetizers.
My two favourite appetizers on the Mohamed Ali menu are the Falafel with Dip and the Spinach & Meat Pastries. Each comes with a dip, my favourite choice is the Tzatziki. Tzatziki is made of a yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes lemon juice, and dill, mint, or parsley – a perfect neutralizer and light dip to go with the rich, full-flavours of falafel or pastries.
The only thing about eating these amazing sandwiches is that they tend to be a bit messy. This is how I eat my sandwich to avoid potential food disaster. First, tear the foil in the middle, remove the top half and lay it out as a placemat.
Then, peel back the wax paper to cover your eating hand to protect from potential messes. Hold onto the bottom half of the foil and continue to peel the wax paper along with the foil as you eat – totally mess free! Also, if you’re into spice, this is a good time to add a few dabs of sriracha for a little extra amazing.
Of course, you can eat-in at Mohamed Ali’s which is perfect for your after-downtown dinner – they are open until 4am on weekends! On Friday’s and Saturday’s Mohamed Ali also delivers from 6pm until their 4am close time – which means, even if you’re having a kitchen party or just a late night of video games, you can enjoy amazing late night food.
But these sandwiches are easy to travel with (especially with my no-mess-technique). My favourite way to eat Mohamed Ali’s is to do take-out and enjoy the sun in Harbourside Park or the War Memorial and finish it off with a tasty dessert like Baklava or a chocolate truffle from a downtown adventure.
Thankfully, with spring on the way, we can all do this very soon!