Food + Drink,  History + Community

Pandemic Cravings: A search for comfort

During the pandemic, I’ve happily enjoyed eating my mother’s delicious home-cooked meals while working from home. Though I treated myself with the occasional bubble tea and local takeout, I discovered a desire to indulge my taste buds by trying something new.

Over the years, I had always been able to try new foods and explore different cuisines at food festivals held in Markham and Toronto. However, the pandemic changed this, and I began to experiment with food in my own kitchen. In the past, I considered myself an expert at whipping up breakfast and baking cookies, but I had always avoided experimenting with new recipes after an unsuccessful attempt at making open cherry pies at a younger age.

However, at some point during the pandemic, my foodie blues turned around. I was able to make dalgona coffee and Japanese souffle pancakes. I also rediscovered old cookbooks from storage boxes and introduced new recipes to my family. But, my stomach still had a yearning for something other than familiar home-cooked meals and the occasional chocolate bar I’d buy on my long walks in the neighbourhood.

I finally realized what my stomach was craving while on the east end of the Danforth on November 6th, 2020. After meeting up with a friend from school (and yes, we were socially distancing and wore masks), we both decided to buy lunch at a local restaurant. Since it was an unusually warm and sunny day in November, we decided to trek to Danforth and Warden Avenue before hopping on the TTC. After stepping off on a side street a few stops away from the main intersection of Victoria Park and Danforth Avenue, a Shawarma restaurant popped up in our view. It was then we discovered a new restaurant in the Danforth neighbourhood—Kurdistan Shawarma. After trying their food for the first time, it was clear that shawarma was the answer to my restless craving.

About Kurdistan Shawarma

In February 2020, Kurda Ismael opened Kurdistan Shawarma at 2789 Danforth Avenue. After dreaming for twenty years to one day open a restaurant in Canada, he finally accomplished his dream on the Danforth.

Ismael first came to Canada about four years ago and started working at a painting company for three years. Prior to his arrival in Canada, he worked at a clothing designer shop for twenty-three years in Kurdistan. Though he enjoyed his work, his intent was to one day open a restaurant, so he did.  

Kurdistan Shawarma initially opened at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately, it closed for the first three months due to the mandatory lockdown. However, Ismael decided to reopen again by following COVID-19 safety protocols. He ensures that his customers follow social distancing and has signs that display the maximum capacity inside the restaurant so that the Danforth community can continue to enjoy his delicious cuisine safely. However, due to the current, second mandatory lockdown, Kurda is temporarily only able to offer curb-side pick-up. Kurdistan Shawarma serves halal food derived from the cuisine style of Kurdistan Sulaymaniyah; the restaurant also provides delicious vegetarian falafel options.

Ismael’s message to the Danforth community, who has welcomed him and his restaurant, is that he hopes to continue making the community happy by providing great, safe service.

Article photo by Morin Mariampillai

Embedded photo from Kurdistan Shawarma


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