Located in the heart of downtown Hamilton and offering a tried and tested formula for Arab fast food, one would hardly call Sultan House adventurous. Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, the restaurant instead wants to take traditional Arab food and do it better — and they largely succeed. All the staples you would expect are offered, with main courses such as shawarma wraps, meat platters, and the increasingly popular shawarma poutine paired with side dishes such as tabouli, hummus, and falafel.
The interior is surprisingly colourful, welcoming, and clean compared to other quick service restaurants. We were greeted by the very generous owner, Sam Takch, who took our orders and invited us to take a seat once the food was ready. “Enjoy your food now, you can worry about paying later!” he exclaimed with a smile. He constantly checked up on us during our meal, and was exceedingly friendly throughout.
He was clearly passionate about his work, telling us proudly how almost all of his chicken meat was taken from the breast, as opposed to the general practice of using thighs. “Thighs are much cheaper,” he told us, “but they just aren’t the same, they don’t hold the flavour as well as the breast.” To be sure, the quality of the meat was certainly better than almost any you’d find elsewhere, though the wrap itself was just a touch less packed than we would’ve liked. This was doubtless due to a desire to keep the price down and remain competitive, a tradeoff that is sadly unavoidable.
The shawarma poutine was also fantastic with the quality of the fries similarly far above what one would expect from a simple fast food place. While many competitors elect to serve shawarma poutine without cheese, this came with a generous serving of delicious curds. The hummus was on par with Paramount’s, which is the best that this writer has ever had, although the bread it came with was only decent, unlike the freshly baked pita that Paramount offers. Finally, although many would be reluctant to try a burger at an Arab place, I would certainly recommend this one, again with surprisingly high quality meat.
All in all, Sultan House Express is a fantastic addition to downtown Hamilton. It offers the traditional Arab food you know and love at a low price, with fast service, and maintaining a surprisingly high standard of quality. If you find yourself at the corner of James and Main, I would certainly recommend you give the wonderful Sam and his fantastic food a visit.
For more information and pictures, check out sultanhouse.ca.