This is our first food truck review in the series #LysEatsTrucks. Wannabe food connoisseur Lys reviews community choice trucks to help you narrow down your next food truck meal.
Off the bat, the gents of Alkhalid Food get a couple of dozen points for their patience and customer service. As I looked across Stiil’nep (also called Departure Bay), wondering how one survives cooking Halal food in a truck during our recent July heat wave, the older guy in front of me approached the order window.
“Shawarma meal, but half the rice.”
“I’m sorry,” truck owner Khalid said. “But we are out of the shawarma meal today, and no rice.”
That caught my attention; the shawarma sandwich, which looks more like a wrap, was my first pick. While previously exploring the menu, I’d salivated at the twist of fries wedged next to slow-roasted chicken and fresh veggies, all smothered in garlic sauce and wrapped tightly in a grilled pita.
“No, don’t be telling me that you’re out,” the man in front of me said. “Because then you’re going to have to give me a discount on whatever I order next.”
Have you ever heard a line come from someone that gives you a full body double take? Khalid as well seemed a bit thrown for a loop. He was still trying to come up with a response when the man pushed on with this odd comedy routine. The man ordered his meal and asked for a Sprite.
Friend-of-the-truck and part-time employee Mohammed quickly went to pull a can of 7-Up from the fridge.
Then the man dropped this second gem of a comment.
“You’re not going to tell me you’re out of Sprite as well, right? Because that’s double the discount then.”
Confession time, dear reader. That individual was my father, visiting from the Prairies. He’s the type to feel that this kind of exchange puts him in the “Best customer we had all day. A comedy genius” category. This means I approached the truck ready to perform damage control to the nth degree.
“Hi, sorry about that! Seriously, that was… a lot. But you were saying you’re sold out of the shawarma meal?”
“Yes. And the sandwich, rice, and fries. We have had a busy day and we are leaving soon, sorry.”
To hear they had been busy all day wasn’t that much of a shock. Opening in 2021, Alkhalid’s claim as the best place for Halal food seems to have made it a fan favorite for throngs of Vancouver Island University (VIU) international students. The truck had originally come on my radar from a Sundanese friend ranting that they didn’t park outside the VIU nursing building for her convenience.
Admittedly, I was saddened to learn there would be no chance for me to sample their fries. That style of potato is a top-tier food, and the notion of having them included in a sandwich was incredibly enticing.
“Nope, all good! My fault for coming down so late.” I pivoted to the next best “Lys’s sensory quirks might allow him to eat this” option: the grilled ground beef kebab sandwich, light on parsley.
Khalid got to work, relieved this was an order that could be filled without any more snafus. In less time than it took for my mom and I to both ask my dad “what the actual f–” our meals were ready.
The size and build of Alkhalid’s wraps make them a choice item to peruse the area with. Large enough that you’ll stave off the next hunger pang, but small enough that it’s easy to munch on while wandering the beach.
Bonus points for the journalist with Sensory Processing Disorder being brave and keeping the order as is, with flash grilled tomatoes in the sandwich. But after a mild sensory panic, I spent the rest of the meal offering the veggies to the ravens. This possibly made the sandwich a lot dryer than Alkhalid intends, and I would recommend substituting a yogurt or garlic sauce if you’re asking for no tomatoes.
If Alkhalid is on your radar for the day, try and get there earlier if you’re needing a specific item. If you’re not picky, or even enjoy leaving your food options up to random choice, fans of the truck say there are few options to go wrong with.
Alkhalid sets up shop in different areas around Nanaimo, and they post their times and locations to social media channels, so you can grab some freshly made meals and go explore.
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