By Jacey Gibb, Assistant Editor
It isn’t farfetched to say that food cart food falls under the umbrella of being a novelty. Sure, a portion of a cart’s revenue will come from tourists and first-timers, but like most other small businesses, they rely on a core group of regulars, whom the only way to secure is by offering amazing food, variety, and consistency. Thankfully for us, Mangal Kiss Mid East BBQ has no problem scoring a hat-trick in all three.
Located in downtown Vancouver, between Howe and Hornby on West Georgia Street, lays the trailer of Mangal Kiss. Owners Mark Cohen and Phillis Cornacchia have been running the food cart for nearly three years now (they were among the first to receive permits to operate a cart) and they know what their customers want: delicious, fresh-tasting food with an emphasis on local ingredients—sans a hefty price tag.
If your Hebrew is a little rusty, mangal means barbeque—a bit of a giveaway to what the cart specializes in. The menu has four different wraps to choose: beef rib-eye, chicken, lamb, or vegetarian. All of the meat wraps are eight dollars and bursting with ingredients, while the vegetarian option is only seven dollars. For variety’s sake, I decided to try a few and got both the chicken and lamb kebab wraps.
The chicken kebab came with a fleet of vegetables included inside, with beets, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, and more all invited to the flavour party. Hummus, tahini, and a few other sauces also played an important supporting role; all wrapped up in a lightly grilled flatbread with seared chicken at the centre of it all.
While the chicken wrap was delicious, the lamb kebab was unstoppable. Served up on pita bread, the lamb shares many ingredients as the other wraps but with a few differences. The presence of mint and Turkish fig vinaigrette in particular definitely helped the wrap make the leap to extraordinary.
Though the wraps are pretty substantive on their own, Mangal Kiss also offers up an ever-changing line of soups, which Cornacchia uses as an outlet to get creative. At the time when I visited, there was a kaboucha squash soup being offered, which combined with any wrap of your choice, comes to a modest $10. Cheaper than most combos you would find at a place like Subway, and about five times better.
Drink-wise, Mangal offers the usual bottled water and other sodas, but they also have a special drink in the summer, limonana. Very popular amongst street vendors in Israel, limonana is made up of lemon juice, sugar-cane water, and fresh mint. Mangal also sometimes offers a watermelon juice, but they’re holding off on both beverages until the weather can justify having summer drinks. Add that to the list of reasons why the sun needs to come back to Vancouver and hang around for more than a week.
Food carts can be a neat treat to indulge in while you’re downtown, but it’s vendors like Mangal Kiss that make you wish bringing a lunch from home was made illegal, paving the way for you to enjoy lamb kebab wraps every day of the week.