ANAHEIM, United States: Every evening there’s a line of people around the block hungry for the delicious food at the Saudi owned and operated restaurant California Shawarma.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about California Shawarma, so you know I’m very excited to give it a try,” customer Mossab Hammadi said.
After leaving college, Saudi entrepreneur and food lover Azzam Alkraiji, started a journey to begin sharing his favorite food with others after he realized he couldn’t find authentic shawarma in the US.
“So originally I decided to go back to Saudi Arabia because I mean I couldn’t find any way for it in the states,” Alkraiji shared. “So from a shawarma chef there I decide to learn it, and I learned it from him. Then we decide to come back to the states and start it here.”
Alkraiji went on to work in professional kitchens and started a food truck, serving shawarma around Los Angeles and at major events such as National Saudi Day all to prepare for eventually opening his restaurant. He now runs California Shawarma in Anaheim, Southern California.
“People like our chicken shawarma because it's halal. It's very clean and fresh chicken, never frozen. We make sure it's high quality,” he said. “Also the other ingredients, the spices, anything we do for the shawarma. We make sure it’s high ingredient quality.”
“It just reminds me of the olden days when I would just go back home and visit,” Hammadi said when we checked in with him after his meal.
“I would just go around and get the shawarma. That’s how it reminds me of. A lot of my friends do not believe that we actually have shawarma here, so I will tell them ‘no we definitely have shawarma here in the US.’”