Shalom (שָׁלוֹם) (Sephardic Hebrew/Israeli Hebrew: shalom; Ashkenazi Hebrew/Yiddish: sholom, sholem, sholoim, shulem) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. “Aloha” is also included in the state nickname of Hawaii, the “Aloha State”.
ShAloha, featuring a classic Israeli street-food menu, with dishes originating in the region and dishes brought to Israel by its Jewish immigrants.
And located in a great place that holds near and dear to my hear in Kaimuki, on the corner of Waialae and 3rd Avenue, right across St. Louis Drive In and Chaminade / St. Louis School. <<< Yay!
After sampling the amazing Pita Chips with Hummus and a bite of the Shawarma and Falafel Sandwich Diner E shared with me at work recently, it left me highly impressed, anxious to hit-up ShAloha myself. Thus, here we are this weekend!…
ShAloha is essentially a sandwich deli takeout shop, with the format being sort of like an Israeli version of Subway, especially for the fact that they bake their own Pita Bread in-house from scratch. More on that shortly.
Straight out the gate, please note that ShAloha does not use Kosher ingredients. Unlike say, the former Da Falafel King and Yudi’s Deli who did. For more on Kosher Foods, see this link.
It must also be noted that there are currently NO KOSHER Israeli Jewish restaurants in Hawaii. However there’s Oahu Kosher, which does private catering requiring Kosher food, as well as Mini Israel, an online Israeli Kosher supermarket on Oahu. The Kailua Safeway also has a Kosher food ordering program.
If you do want to dine-in, there’s just this one single-sided bench to share.
The gist of Shaloha’s menu are Pita Sandwiches:
FALAFEL – A middle east classic; garbanzo beans and our house spices fried until golden brown and served with our homemade salads in our freshly baked pita. $9.57
EGGPLANT SANDWICH (SABICH) -Thick rounds of fried eggplant that melt like butter in your mouth, combined with a hard boiled egg and served in a warm pita with Israeli salad and homemade tahini. $9.57
HUMMUS SANDWICH – The famous Middle East spread, made from cooked garbanzo beans and blended with olive oil, sesame, lemon juice and spices, served in a pita bread or on a plate with bread and salads on the side. $5.74
SHAKSHUKA – Hawaiian farm eggs, poached in a sauce of Hawaiian-grown tomatoes, chili peppers and our special spices and served in our fresh pita. $9.57
- SHAWARMA – Juicy chicken thighs marinated in our shawarma spices, grilled to perfection and served in our fresh-baked pita with salads.$9.57
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL – A juicy chicken breast fillet (boneless & skinless), breaded and fried in our special spices, served in our pita bread with our homemade salads. $9.57
- PITA CHIPS – Shaloha’s version of french fries. Our pita chips are made to order, sprinkled in Zaatar and served with hummus.
- Iraeli Salad
- Red Cabbage
- White Cabbage
Make any sandwich a combo: add any 2 sides (split) for $5.74
- Lemonana – ShAloha’s own fresh mint-infused lemonade $2.87
- Water 96¢
- Pita Pack (6 each) $6.69
White Cabbage and Hummus…
Red Cabbage and Tabouleh…
You can also purchase their absolutely FANTASTIC house-made Pita bread as a 6-piece to-go “Pita Pack”, currently selling for $6.69…
From their website, here’s how ShAloha describes their Pita Bread:
It turns out that Hawaii is blessed with the perfect water source (the right PH and other elements) for baking real Pita pockets – fluffy, strong, flexible; the perfect texture, and most importantly, TASTY! These amazing weather conditions, not found in many locations, are perfect for naturally proofing the pita dough, with a minimal amount of yeast.
At Shaloha, you will enjoy the most delicious and healthy Middle East cuisine served in our perfected fresh pita pocket. Our pitas are fresh baked on the premises everyday.
And here’s the Pita dough forming equipment where all the magic happens. Which all I could grasp by how the gentleman working that day explained it, is that it starts as ball of Pita dough that enters machine on this side…
…then comes out after several funky flips and passes through multiple conveyor belts as a finished Pita Bread ready for baking…
In a return visit, I’ll ask owner Sagi “Sage Sisko” Asiskovich to do a Pita Machine demo for me so I can record and post a YouTube video for you folks.
ShAloha has started making their highly acclaimed Pita Bread in commercial volume available for sale in retail stores, now available in select Foodland locations. They will also soon be available at select Costco Hawaii locations. Call ShAloha for more details on that.
This is their house-made Lemona, a mint-infused lemonade…
Which I’m kinda’ bummed, as I totally forgot about getting one, I was so busy “wala’au’ing” with the guy working there. Podagee, I tell ya’. lol
So I decided to order their most popular item, being the Shawarma and the Falafel Sandwich. Here’s how the Falafel Sandwich starts, where the Pita Bread gets a generous slathering of house-made Hummus…
Falafel are ground, seasoned and deep-fried Chickpeas balls…
After a bottom row of three Falafel are placed inside the Hummus-lined Pita, a second layer topped with White Cabbage and Tabouleh are added, then another row of 2 Falafel, then finally topped with Israeli Salad and a generous drizzling of Tahini Sauce, and voila, here’s my ShAloha Falafel Sandwich…
For the Shawarma, first layer in is White Cabbage and Tabouleh, then a generous helping of Shawarma chicken meat, then layered with Isaeli Salad and Red Cabbage, then more Shawarma, finished with Israeli Salad and a heaful of Red Cabbage on top, voila, my ShAloha Shawarma Sandwich is ready…
Now this my friends is the number one reason that brought me here…
That there is a full order of ShAloha’s signature Pita Chips, seasoned generously with a special middle eastern spice blend called “Zataar”. Zataar is made of finely ground sesame seeds and sumac, while ShAloha’s Zataar also has salt premixed in in it, which really helps make their Pita Chips flavor POP! All served with a generous helping of ShAloha’s house-made Hummus, which I could dip my rubbah slippah in and eat it!
Here’s my ShaLoha Shawarma on top, with my Falafel Sandwich below it in all their naked glory…
Each ShAloha Pita Sandwich will set you back $10, however let me tell, these sandwiches are HUGE, easily enough to split between two hungry adults. Where you can see here it’s packed super thick with the good stuff and almost as wide as the full span of hand…
Instead of the combo of two side choices, because each sandwich already includes most of the veggie sides within the sandwich itself, I’d recommend you just get the sandwich, and do a full order of the deep-fried Pita Chips and Hummus, as that will WONDERFULLY serve as your “fries”, that would go with your burger, in the “burger joint” vernacular sense.
Speaking of which, a nice presentation in the comfort of home of ShAloha’s Zataar-seasoned Pita Chips with Hummus…
As always on The Tasty Island, a cross-cut “money shot” view of the Falafel Sandwich…
Here’s how an individual Falafel looks in cross-cut view, where you can see the bright green color of the ground and lightly seasoned deep-fried Chickpeas…
“Money shot” of my Shawarma Sandwich…
And? You know, with SO MANY FLAVORS going on in both these sandwiches, there is absolutely NO WAY I can describe or pinpoint any single element. It’s like going to a party where the guests are from all over the world, not just your personal friends, family or coworkers. Where you can’t single any one person out as interesting, as they’re all interesting and contribute to the life of the party! It’s like say, watching a blockbuster movie in a theater vs. watching it at home on your big screen TV: both are equally satisfying in their own way, yet watching the movie in the theater is that much more EPIC.
Yes, EPIC, is how I would describe the flavor and texture EXTRAVAGANZA of both these sandwiches. At least for me anyways, as I LOVE>LOVE>LOVE! Middle Eastern cuisine! And the complex, yet well-married flavors here belt it out, big time!
The Pita bread is toasty, yet soft, with a wonderful, glutenous “pull” to it as you take each bite. The red and whit cabbage, Israeli Salad and Tabouleh are all as fresh as can be, and and the Shwarma and Falafel both offer the exotic savory element your palate craves. While the Hummus lining the Pita adds the creaminess to seal the deal, effectively acting as very healthy replacement for mayonnaise.
If there’s just one con, I’d say the whole thing needs just a dash of SALT. I’m HIGHLY SENSITIVE TO SALT, and even for me, I could barely taste any salt used at all in the ingredients, except for the Pita itself. Now calling this sandwich bland because of lacking salt would be totally incorrect. This sandwich is certainly not bland by a long shot! It just needs little more seasoning “kick” somewhere.
Speaking of that, MAN, does ShAloha’s Isreali Hot Sauce kick your @ss! I only could handle very little on my sandwich. Whew! It has a very earthy Paprika and Ceyenne pepper type of flavor profile, packin’ some serious Scovilles. I think it helps complete the “partyville” of flavors going on in these AMAZING Israeli Pita sandwiches, however use this Israeli hot sauces very carefully!
That said, I give both ShAloha’s Falafel and Shawarma a still resounding 4 Ume and SPAM Musubi, respectively. Sprinkle a little of that Zataar “magic” in these sandwiches, and I think they’d be hitting 5+ Musubi rating territory!
Now if there’s anything you MUST get at ShAloha are their Pita Chips with Hummus, all house-made and all not just good, but AWESOME!…
I’m not personally familiar with the flavor of Sumac, however I can taste Thyme an hour away (ha ha!), and that Thyme flavor, along with the ground sesame seeds of Zataar seasoning generously dusting each deep-fried Pita Chip gives it a totally blissful flavor sensation. Did I say deep-fried? Why yes, yet they’re not greasy at all, still tasting quite light, while being a little on the chewy side in a very enjoyable way.
Dip each one in that fantastic, creamy hummus, and, oh yeah, gimme’ some more, baby! ShAloha’s Pita Chips and Hummus really are addicting, and will have you back for more, guaranz! 5.999 Ume Musubi!
If you’re wondering how on earth I could eat two sandwiches in one visit, no ways. I plan on taking the other half of each one to work for lunch, as these do surprisingly very well reheated in the microwave, even with all the veggies in them. I mean, really well! Nuke ‘me for like 30 seconds and she go!
I’m definitely going back to try the Eggplant, Shakusha, Schnitzel and Hummus Sandwiches, every time of course adding on those kick @ss Pita Chips ‘n Hummus. And I’ll see if the cook is willing to dust my sandwiches with some of that Zataar to kick ‘em up to 5. I’d also love to meet the owner Sage (isn’t there on weekends), whom I understand is one super cool cat.
As it stands, ShAloha rocks!
3133 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
Tel. (808) 744-4222
The Tasty Island rating:
(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)
• ShAloha – Yelp user reviews
• New Middle Eastern Eatery: Shaloha – Honolulu Magazine Blog
• Fuud: Shaloha in Kaimuki – The Cat Dish blog
• ShAloha Pita – Fashionably Forward Foodie blog
• HawaiIsrael.com – Mini Israel, an online Israeli Kosher Supermarket in Hawaii
• OahuKosher.com – Fine Kosher food for all occasion, serving the island of Oahu
• ShalomHawaii.com – Everything for and about the Jewish community on the Hawaiian islands