Shish! at Whole Foods Market
2701 Bergen Mall, Paramus NJ
Other locations: Tribeca, NYC
The new Shish! stand at Whole Foods’s new Paramus. New Jersey location serves Middle-Eastern kebabs and mezze with an organic twist.
I recently had a chance to try the new Shish! middle eastern food stand at the brand new Whole Foods market in the recently revamped Bergen Mall, accompanied by former Bergen Record staff writer and experienced foodie Victor Sasson, who recently has started blogging about healthy and chemical-free shopping options in New Jersey. Victor is a Syrian Jew by birth, with a very discerning palate, and has an even greater level of experience with Middle Eastern food than I do, so I was interested in seeing his reactions to the food there.
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The main meat attraction at Shish! are the two types of Shawarma, one turkey with both white meat and dark meat, and the other a beef and lamb combination.
Here’s the salad table with various types of Mediterranean side dishes which you can pick to have on a combination plate ($12 for two sides and a meat)
This is my Lamb/Beef shawarma plate. Victor, Rachel and I both agreed that this was dried out and under seasoned. I really liked the squash salad, which had fresh mint and dill in it.
Victor went for the Turkey shawarma, which while not as dried out as the lamb and beef, was still pretty dry, and still under seasoned. The red colored side dish here is muhammara, which is a spicy dip with red Aleppo pepper and walnuts, which I liked very much, although it could have used a bit more chile punch. Victor also indicated that in the various dips we tasted they were generally lacking in acidity and garlic flavor.
This is the falafel plate, accompanied by various types of pickles and a green salad. While indeed a colorful plate, both Victor and I thought that the falafels were under seasoned (lacking cumin, chile and parsley notes which are the characteristics of a good falafel) and had sort of a cakey texture to them.
The spicy eggplant salad on Rachel’s plate was very good, as was the Babaghanoush, not shown here, which was of the Israeli/Mayonnaisy/Smooth variety.
My reactions to Shish! are mixed. If you are shopping at the Bergen Mall and want some healthy options, I definitely think that the Whole Foods self-serve salad/food bar and Shish are good bets, although I would not consider Shish! to be a particularly good example of good Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean food in the Bergen County area. For that, I’d have to recommend you to Joeyness in Fort Lee or Bennies in Englewood for Lebanese style food, and Adonisa’s in Fort Lee, Greek Taverna in Edgewater or A Taste of Greece in River Edge for reasonably priced Greek. At the high end, Axia Taverna and Nisi are also very good choices.
I’m hoping that Whole Foods in Paramus will pay a little more attention to keeping the spit-roasted schwarma meats moister and be a bit more aggressive with the seasoning their dishes, because with some tweaks the Shish! stand could be a great place to eat.