Express Shish Kabab, a fast casual-style Middle Eastern takeout restaurant, opened last week at 2673 Haddonfield Road in Pennsauken.
Located next to Mama’s Meatballs, it specializes in Middle Eastern fare such as fire-grilled beef and chicken kababs and shawarma-style beef and chicken platters that come complete with rice and a slightly spicy red sauce. There’s also a couple of fish options (salmon and branzino) and a vegetarian option (falafel) available as a platter.
Traditional pita wrap shawarma-style sandwiches with a choice of protein and fillings such as french fries are offered next to the untraditional cheesesteak, chicken cheesesteak, and burger wraps. Familiar sides such as Greek salad, cucumber salad, potato salad, and hummus, and desserts such as Baklava and coconut cake round out the menu.
We tried a few items: Grilled Steak Kabab with rice and red sauce ($9.99), Grilled Chicken with rice and red sauce ($9.99), side of fries ($3), side of hummus ($3), cucumber salad ($2), and two desserts–Baklava and Coconut Cake–($2 each).
The platters were generous featuring several chunks of grilled meat with sauce on top, fried potatoes, and lots of rice. While there was good charring on the meat and great grilled flavor, the red sauce with just a hint of spiciness didn’t add as much flavor as I was hoping for. In fact, on both platters, we remarked that we would have liked a bit more sauce as it came off a bit dry. Fortunately, a couple of dollops of hummus and cucumber salad added much-needed moisture, brightness, and acidity to my dish.
As for the desserts, the coconut cake was quite good full of coconut flavor and perfectly moist. The Baklava wasn’t the absolute best I’ve ever had, it needed more syrup in my opinion, but it sated my craving for it.
Express Shish Kebab is a welcome addition to the food scene in Pennsauken. It’s good for a quick, filling meal or whenever the craving for Middle Eastern food hits. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. I know I will go back to try some other things.
Delivery is available through Door Dash and Grubhub, but be prepared to pay a little more because that’s how those services work.
Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani will be leading a cooking demonstration at Wild Wing Cafe in Barrington, NJ on Sunday, January 26th starting at 9AM.
He was a fan favorite on season 5 of the culinary competition show Top Chef on Bravo. Since then, he’s opened numerous restaurants around the world, started his own wine collection, has a line of cookware, among other business accomplishments. He also has his own YouTube cooking show called Fabio’s Kitchen.
It’s free to get in but there will be a breakfast buffet with a mimosa bar for $10. Reservations for Fabio’s special appearance and live cooking demonstration can only be made by calling the restaurant at 856-617-0663.
Almost 75% of the seats have been accounted for… so if you want to go, act now!
It was announced this week that the former Merchantville Diner will open as Merchant House, operated by Patti Sharp, formerly of The Station House restaurant in Haddon Heights.
Merchantville is excited for this new restaurant addition that joins The Blue Monkey, Park Place Cafe & Restaurant, Charlie’s Crepes, La Guadalupana Mexican Restaurant, Sakura Japanese Restaurant, and more.
Construction is almost complete and they are expecting to be open by early April. It looks so beautiful inside!
Versi Vino Wine Bar & Kitchen is currently under construction at 461 Route 38 West in Maple Shade on the site of a former, long-closed Hooters. It will join a small strip of stores which includes Dunkin Donuts, a hair salon, a nail salon, and a tobacco shop. The new wine-focused restaurant and wine shop promises a new wine and food experience in South Jersey.
The build-out is currently in progress by Gibbsboro-based construction firm Big Sky Enterprises. The 48-seat restaurant will offer wine and food pairings, and a limited cocktail menu. Wine-to-go in growler type containers will also be available.
A projected opening date is TBD. Stay tuned to their social media accounts or sign up on the website for updates.
It’s January in South Jersey, and you know that that
Whiskey. Poetry. And haggis.
If you’re scratching your head, let me explain. At locations in our area and around the world, people will be gathering to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns – the national bard of Scotland. Rabbie lived during the latter half of the 18th Century, a farmer whose prose celebrated the country he loved.
In 1801, a few years after Burns passed, some of his
friends gathered on his birthday (January 25th) to celebrate his
life with drinks, haggis and reading of his poetry. This tradition became an
annual celebration, and over time has spread throughout the world.
Why the haggis? Well, Robert Burns wrote a poem about the
famous (or infamous, depending on your persuasion) Scottish dish entitled
“Address to a Haggis” – and that very poem is part of the ceremony. And a
haggis is presented with bagpipe accompaniment. Toasts with whiskey, including
one for the ‘lassies’, is part of the festivities. A Robert Burns Supper is not
just a celebration of the man but of the artistic spirit.
The largest gathering in South Jersey takes place down in Cape May, thanks to Exit Zero publisher Jack Wright who started the tradition some sixteen years ago. In fact, Jack told me that the Exit Zero Burns Supper is now one of the largest IN THE WORLD, with 400 people attending annually.
The Cape May celebration has become so popular that this year it has been expanded to a weekend. The main event will be on Saturday, January 25th at the Cape May Convention Hall starting at 6:30PM. Attendees can choose between haggis, vegetarian haggis, or shepherd’s pie if you want to skip the haggis part completely. The Burns Supper is also a charitable event, with a $5,000 donation going this year to Music Connects – a local non-profit organization that brings music to kids in Cape May County.
New this year is the Gourmet Scots Dinner taking place on Friday, January 24th at Exit Zero Filling Station. The five-course tasting menu is completely haggis-free, but does have Cape May scallops, chorizo scotch egg, a gratin of smoked haddock and crab, Scottish Salmon Wellington, and a dessert of cranachan – a Scottish treat with raspberries and oats. A whiskey tasting menu is also available for an additional charge.
For those who simply cannot wait until Rabbie’s birthday can celebrate a week early. The South Jersey Celtic Society has its Robert Burns Supper on January 18th starting at 6:30PM. The 15th annual celebration is being held at O’Connor’s American Bar & Grille in Eastampton.
The British Chip Shop in Haddonfield is back with its own version of Rabbie Burns Night which will be held on January 25th from 7PM to 9PM. There will only be a 7PM seating, so make a reservation and don’t come strolling in later thinking you’re getting a seat. You can go full Scot with an entrée of haggis with neeps ‘n tatties (rutabaga and potatoes), or go for the salmon cured with treacle and whiskey. The event is BYOW – aka bring your own whiskey.
And Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point is hosting its Burns Night Supper on Sunday, January 26th 6PM to 10PM. Included in the entertainment portion of the evening will be highland dancers. A three-course dinner is being offered, along with an optional pairing of three whiskeys.
It’s a tricky business, though. But if Chefs Joe Muldoon and James Liuzza play their cards right, Haddon Culinary could be a hit. It’s going to depend on a lot of factors, but keeping prices reasonable and making customers happy is going to be key.
I was one of the first to get a look when they opened their doors on Saturday, December 28th. Early buzz brought a line of folks curious to see what the new market was all about.
The first customers certainly had a lot to take in. Many were slowly milling about to check out the various food stations and grocery items. It has everything needed to inspire cooking more at home or not cooking at all. Some of the highlights include:
An array of prepared foods and salads priced by the pound. You can also find pre-made dips, salsas, etc.
A few Roman-style pizzas and a small line-up of baked goods and pastries.
Many pre-made sandwiches for $7.99 and several deli meats all made in-house and priced per the pound.
Hefty seasoned rotisserie chickens priced at $8.99 and mashed potato of the day for a quick meal at home.
Small, but respectable seafood offerings. I was especially happy to see sushi-grade tuna loin.
A more-than-adequate meat department complete with butchery services. Need something cut to your liking or a unique burger blend? They have you covered. All sausages are made in-house.
There are many steak selections to chose from with a nice assortment of house-made marinades and compound butters. They’ll even cook a steak for you at no extra charge!
A decent amount of cheese and charcuterie items in the cheese case featuring many items from Di Bruno Bros.
Lots of pre-made items ready to grab & go for quick heating and eating at home.
A variety of produce items including boxed lettuces, carrots, asparagus, peppers, green beans, mushrooms, fruits, fresh herbs, and more.
A curated mix of grocery items such as pastas, rice, beans, lentils, tomato sauces, olive oils, vinegars, spices, seasonings, and flavorings, etc. They also carry bread and rolls by Sarcone’s and Philly Bread.
Daily soup specials will be featured at the soup station.
Chocolate bars by MADE Atlantic City are some of the locally and regionally made items available.
All of this is really the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself. It really is a culinarian’s dream; a foodie paradise. There’s much to love here. If you like to eat, it’s a must-visit.
Crab Du Jour, a chain featuring Cajun-style seafood, will take over where Go Stir Fry Express was located on the corner of Haddonfield Road and Maple Avenue in Pennsauken.
Boiled seafood platters blended with a variety of seasoning flavors and heat levels to choose from will be served low country boil style with corn and potatoes. Popular seafood such as king or snow crab legs, shrimp (with the head on or off), lobster tail, crawfish, clams, mussels, and more will be available. Sausage can be added to each boiled platter for an extra charge.
Fried seafood, fish, and chicken baskets will be offered served with choice of fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, potatoes or corn. Selections of fried seafood and fish include catfish, shrimp, tilapia, calamari, and oysters.
Raw or steamed oysters and scallops, wings, sliders, and salads round out the menu. Prices seem fairly reasonable for seafood.
While I’m very sad that Go Stir Fry Express closed (they had the best poke bowls), I am cautiously optimistic about Crab Du Jour in this “doomed” location. Go Stir Fry had a pretty good run for the 3 years it was opened. Before that, it was a short-lived soft pretzel store.
According to the website, they are planning locations in Cherry Hill and Delran as well. More details as I have them and stay tuned for a review once it opens.
Earlier this year, The Cub & Bunny Cafe opened at 1206 North Kings Highway in Cherry Hill offering Philadelphia-based Bassett’s ice cream flavors along with bubble egg waffle sundaes. Just last month, they started offering Korean dishes such as rice bowls, Korean pancakes, and even Korean sushi. More about that in a bit.
When owners James and Kim immigrated from South Korea 25 years ago, they settled in South Jersey, raised a family, and operated several nail salons in the local area. Earlier this year, with their daughter grown, they were getting tired of running 10 nail salons and decided to sell all of them and focus on running one small business.
Kim had always dreamed of opening a food business, but with no prior experience, she didn’t want to open a full-sized restaurant or even a food truck. Since they owned the real estate on Kings Highway, she felt that opening a take-out only ice cream shop there would be simple to run and get her foot in the food business door so to speak.
After a successful summer with many new and returning customers raving about Bassett’s ice cream (only a few places carry it in South Jersey), Kim began to think about adding some comfort food dishes especially as the colder weather approaches.
It made sense to offer what she knows – authentic and traditional Korean items such as Bulgogi and chicken rice bowls — and some with a few Americanized twists such as Korean bulgogi and Spicy Pork cheesesteaks and spicy fried chicken to pique curiosity.
A variety of Korean seaweed rolls, or Gimbap, rice rolls that look like sushi rolls, as well as approachable Korean egg pancakes, or pajeon, are also on the menu. The rolls and pancakes can be ordered together as combos encouraging adventurous eaters to explore the menu.
Upon my visit, Kim was gracious to cook for me in her small, but well-stocked kitchen. First, she fried up some kimchi with bacon. I’m a long-time fan of kimchi, but never tried it with bacon. The aroma from pan-frying the spicy kimchi with the rendered bacon was intoxicating. Combining spicy, fermented cabbage with fatty bacon is truly a glorious taste sensation. It was even better when she put it into the Bulgogi beef rice bowl she also prepared for me.
I’ve been eating Korean food for about 20 years. I remember the first time I tried it, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. It was a flavor revelation — the combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory all in one mouthful was truly a culinary awakening in me. It opened my mind and palate to keep exploring new cuisines and flavors.
Observing Kim prepare these dishes, I could tell she is leaning on her many years of home cooking, with family recipes, taking great care and putting much thoughtfulness in the preparation of the dishes. Not only was her mise en place well organized, but her calm, methodical approach to cooking demonstrated confidence and natural prowess in the kitchen. I saw her take each component, as it cooked on a small induction cooktop, seasoning as she went to build layers of flavor. What she lacks in commercial cooking experience, she wholly makes up for in traditional Korean home cooking know-how. In other words, she knows how to cook and people should be eating her food!
Each rice bowl comes with Japchae noodles, which are a clear noodle made with sweet potato starch. They are naturally gluten-free and take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked or paired with. The bowls are also packed with lots of fresh vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, mushroom, peppers, and spinach. It’s all mixed together with a slightly spicy sauce, but nothing that will blow your head off. Just lots of lovely, deep flavor and freshness. I am eager to try the rest of the menu now that they are available on Grubhub. Ice cream and Korean food, who knew?
The Cub & Bunny Cafe is open for lunch or dinner seven days a week and available for pick-up or delivery through Grubhub. Hours are Monday-Friday 12:00-8:30PM, Saturday 12:00-9:30PM, and Sunday 3:00-8:30PM.
Call 856-354-9999 to place your order. Then come back here to tell me your thoughts!
Don’t forget to tell them South Jersey Food Scene sent you! This is a new small business in South Jersey worth supporting.
This story originally appeared in South Jersey: Locals Only. Join the group for exclusive content about the South Jersey Food Scene!
Meet Josh George. He’s a registered dietitian and trained chef. He’s helping people in South Jersey eat healthy, delicious scratch-made food.
He started Bariatric Boxes, a healthy food delivery service, in 2018 after leaving a dietitian position at Cooper University’s Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Center. Meals are prepared every week in a rented, ServSafe kitchen in Williamstown, NJ.
A majority of the meals use produce grown and purchased from Maugeri’s Farm Market in Swedesboro, NJ. Each meal contains less than 350 calories, more than 25 gm of protein, & less than 10 gm of sugar making them perfect for bariatric and diabetic patients or for anyone looking to make a healthy lifestyle change. Meals can be customized for a variety of diets and intolerances including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, and other allergy specific diets.
The menu changes weekly and is updated on the website every Sunday. Customers are encouraged to place orders before midnight on Tuesday for pick-up or delivery on Friday after the meals have been freshly made.
The meals are delivered to select Heritage’s Dairy Stores in South Jersey for pickup by customers. He also offers delivery within an approximate 20-mile radius of Williamstown.
“It’s a struggle for some patients to lose weight and meet nutritional goals, that’s why I created Bariatric Boxes.”
He’s got a steady customer base and a lot of success stories under his belt.
“The best part of this job is helping people get healthy. That is rewarding.”
Josh hasn’t forgotten non-dieting food lovers. As a trained chef, he loves cooking a wide variety of homestyle food. He also offers “Beckett Boxes” which he refers to as the “evil twin” of Bariatric Boxes. These meals are not “bariatric” friendly and do not list any calorie counts. So if you’re looking to splurge, he has you covered there. He’s partnered with local bakers to provide desserts as well.