Lazord Syrian Street Food

33 Howard Street


0141 237 1610

Opening hours: til late seven days

TONIGHT it’s quite clear that all the young dudes are carrying the news but exactly what language it’s in I can’t quite make out. I’ll only be told that when I eventually make it to the long, low metal-topped counter through a sardine can of sprawling, leaning, chatting, arm-on-each-other’s-shoulders customers.

Then while ordering I’ll ask the man where all these people are originally from and he’ll say mainly Syria, but all over really, and they’re talking Arabic.

Ours will be a brief conversation because he’s busy and because all the time I am being gently pushed, slightly bumped, harmlessly nudged back down the counter by the surge of clippered-side-shed hairstyles with gelled-back quiffs.

My slow journey there had been enhanced though, by watching pirouetting chickens dance, bubble and brown on burners so hot I can feel them pleasantly toast my face on this bitterly cold November night.

It's not what I came in for but I have to have me some of that chicken. Served with salad, the famous Muhammara sauce from Aleppo, Saj bread and rice please.

“A least 20 minutes til they’re ready mate," says the man switching to Glaswegian. I shake my head at the prospect of another wait and order instead the Arabic Shawarma Wrap at just over £6.

What I don’t realise is that all the young dudes haven’t got their food yet and by the time they’ve got theirs and I’ve got mine that rotisserie chicken will be completely ready. So I will have one of them too.

Now. Of all the wonderful things that immigrants bring and have brought and will hopefully continue to bring to this city over the years, their food has surely got to rank super high up there. Look about. It’s everywhere.

And when you can step off a pavement in downtown Glasgow, just round the corner from St Enoch Square, and culturally anyway you’ve stumbled into Syria from a better time and it's going like a fair, well it livens up an otherwise dull Tuesday night doesn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: a shawarma? I thought that too. Until I got mine. Juicy chicken straight from the grill, chopped, doused in sauce, wrapped tightly in the flatbread they make freshly themselves in here; then the whole thing placed on another grill. And big old iron weights put on top of it. To flatten it down. To deliciously crisp that flatbread up.

It’s then sliced across the grain. Into surprisingly elegant finger-size bites. And served with Syrian Garlic Cream, more chilli sauce, and those sour and salty pickles that they make themselves. Outstanding.

On those pickles by the way: try the Pickled Scottish Turnip. Crikey, who knew? Most dudes are having chips with their shawarmas tonight, but this dude’s having that buttery rice, full of the flavour of cardamom.

And the chicken? As good as it looked. Just-cooked, moist and sweetly tender. I won't eat it in here but take it home for the family to try, dipping torn off pieces of the Saj bread and chicken into that deep, dense Muhammara of peppers, walnuts, chilli and possibly even pomegranate.

It would have been easy to walk past Lazord on a night like this without even noticing it. It looks like any one of the scores of kebab shops in the city centre. They keep the shutter down too on the side with two big tables.

I probably wouldn’t have come in at all if I hadn’t had a number of emails suggesting I brave the steady rush. Even then it’s hard to get a seat at one of the tables and simple, utilitarian and not hugely comfortable when I do.

But still better to experience the Arabic Shawarama on site - to understand the crispness of the fresh flatbread, its all round juicyness. That crispness goes when it's placed in a takeaway box.

I know all this because of course I’ve now been more than once. And will be back again. And probably again.

Menu: Whole rotisserie chicken with that famous Aleppo Muhammara and Saj bread; and those Arabic Shawarmas. What else do you need? 4

Service: Worth the wait. Can feel like every man for himself in the surge to get served but persevere and if the counter staff get a minute they’re pleasant, friendly and immensely proud of what they do. 4

Atmosphere: It’s a buzzing kebab shop with just two biggish tables, rotating chickens, flaring burners and fast (to eat anyway) street food. I liked it. 4

Price: Factor in the care they take over preparation and at £6 for an Arabic Shawarma meal, £11 for the whole chicken with Muhammara and Saj, 5/5 doesn’t do it justice. 5

Food: Come for the elegant Arabic Shawarma with its dainty sections, crisped up deliciousness, juicy meats and carefully made pride. 8

Total: 25/30