A Taste of Syria at GDS Oriental Food House
I feel like I should start this article on GDS Oriental Food House with a disclaimer, so here it goes. I haven’t had any experience eating Syrian food. Nor do I claim to be an expert on the subject. What I am is a food enthusiast willing to try dishes at least once and I can safely say that my palate can at least discern what is delicious and what is not.
We came to know about this cozy food house at Gibraltar road because of a friend’s recommendation. Of course, when a friend recommends a restaurant they are giving their stamp of approval. So we, and by we I meant me, my family and friends, went looking for GDS Oriental Food House. We found this cozy little food house along Gibraltar road near the Iglesia ni Cristo church. This little food house has three tables and by my estimate, it is capable of seating about 15 people.
At the GDS Oriental Food House
When we arrived there is already a table occupied but one table is just enough to accommodate a party of 5. Upon sitting the first thing we noticed is that the menu is already taped on the table. Had I not been told that the food house serves Syrian dishes, I would have easily thought of the dishes as Indian or general Middle eastern in origin. But, I was already told that their dishes are Syrian so I had to open my mind and taste buds to a different kind of experience and should not be expecting a particular taste.
Now, why did I say that? It is because the menu contains names of familiar dishes like shawarma. We all know Baguio City became a haven for shawarma even before its popularity boom when it was introduced in the Panagbenga Session Road in Bloom. I have learned that every country has its own version of shawarma and in the Philippines, we did have our own take on this popular dish. So if I go in expecting a certain taste then that would be unfair. Besides, going into a restaurant without any expectations and biases is in itself a culinary adventure.
The Food and Menu at GDS Oriental Food House
The GDS Oriental Food House menu is simple and you can easily fathom that the dishes on their menu are their specialties, not too fancy, and easily understood as you can see a little description of what the food is. While I set up my mind for a culinary adventure, I ended up ordering what is familiar, which I never regretted. So, we ordered the GDS Shawarma platter which is reasonably priced at P650. The kind lady serving the food suggested that we should try their hummus so we did. The server and the chef were so kind to also serve a welcome tea.
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The GDS Special Shawarma Platter
When our order arrived, I had a sigh of relief because in the back of my mind the order may not be enough for five hungry foodies. Well, the GDS Special Shawarma Platter alone with a side of fries is enough. I love how it was arranged but I was wondering about the toppings of pickled beets. So, the GDS Special Shawarma Platter has two kinds of shawarma, chicken, and beef. Another thing that I was wondering about is where are the cucumber and the other greens we usually see in Shawarma. Well, that was answered by the nice lady serving our food, she said the Syrian version of shawarma doesn’t normally have those. Well, on to tasting the food. While the shawarma came with garlic sauce, I opted to have my first bite of Syrian Shawarma without any sauce since the sauce might just overpower the flavor of the entire bite.
So here’s what I think about their version of shawarma, the blend of the ingredients wrapped in that thin bread really came together. The spices, the cheese, and of course the marinated meat. To put it simply, it was so delicious. If you are a fan of the Session Road in Bloom shawarma well, this is shawarma on a whole new level. It doesn’t have the burnt meat taste and the overpowering flavor of the sauce that we have grown to love. I really like the flavor of the spices which are not so overpowering that you can still taste the meat and from what I can only assume is cheese. Now on to why the need for pickled beets. You can only eat so much of it before you notice the richness of the dish, the pickled beets’ sourness cuts through that richness. Overall the GDS Special Shawarma platter is a must order if you are eating as a group, they do have single orders for those who would like to explore alone.
The Hummus at GDS Oriental Food House
If you are trying to look for the hummus on their menu it is under the category Additional. I am not sure why but I think this hummus should have a space of its own in their menu and not just an “addition”. But hey, there must be a reason. The only thing I can say is that the nice lady was really honest when she said their hummus is much thicker compared to other “hummuses”. I do love hummus and I always make sure to order it in restaurants that offer it. The hummus is really delicious and the thick and creamy texture really makes you want to eat more. If I have one complaint about this dish is that the accompanying pita bread is not enough for someone like me who really likes the dish, which led me to order more bread.
The Drink options
Aside from the welcome tea which is delightful. GDS Oriental Food House only offers a few drinks like soda and soda water. I am not so sure but I hope to taste an authentic Syrian drink when we return and dine at this wonderful food house.
The Specials at GDS Oriental Food House
Just like I said, we heeded the recommendation of our friend and did no research about this food house. So we didn’t know that they regularly showcase their specials. How did we come to know about the specials? Well, have to thank who seems to be one of their regular customers. This guy just walked up to the counter and asked for their special for the day and when we heard they were serving Biryani, we immediately called the attention of the chef and the nice lady serving the food and blurted out we want Biryani too!
So here’s the thing about not having expectations, we forgot the rule when we tasted the biryani, so now, in my mind, I was already comparing flavors. Once I shed that thought, I realized that the GDS oriental version of the Biryani draws its flavor from the ingredients like turmeric, fried onions, raisins, and other spices. The Chicken hidden under that mound of Biryani rice is so tender you could pull the meat out in one swift motion. But here’s the thing, after eating the shawarma and hummus which have strong flavors the biryani became my least favorite of the three. Maybe next time I should eat the biryani first to really taste the ingredients of this dish.
GDS Oriental Food House Location and Details
If you are planning on eating at GDS Oriental Food House I suggest checking out their Facebook page first to see their special for the day. GDS Oriental Food House is located at 43 Gibraltar road, the nearest landmark would be the Iglesia ni Cristo Church at Gibraltar. Parking is scarce in the area, something to know for those who will be bringing their vehicle.
GDS Oriental Food House is open from 11 AM to 7 PM, Monday to Saturday. They are closed on Sundays according to their Facebook page. The mode of payment is cash or I believe they also accept Gcash (I could be wrong though) so to be sure just bring cash.
GDS Oriental Food House on Google Maps
Final Thoughts on GDS Oriental Food House
All I can say is that I really liked the food, it is delicious, it is filling. Not to mention, trying out their food is a good way to experience a culinary journey outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes we fear the unknown but when we leave our biases behind and take that first step we will realize, that the unknown is nothing to be feared and it could even end up being delicious.