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Akram's Shoppe

Posted by Kaela Greenstien / Reviewed on April 4, 2011 / review policy

Akrams ShoppeAkram's Shoppe has a simple philosophy: delicious, fresh and healthy food at prices affordable to everyone. Akram and his wife Hiyam reopened the shop in May 2010 after a nightmare renovation project that kept them closed for nearly three years. Since moving into Kensington Market, I've sworn by Akram's eating here nearly daily. It's light on the bank account and the waistline and without fail, mouthwateringly delicious. Their tweets on what's cookin' in the Shoppe have come to feel like my mom calling me down for dinner.

Akrams ShoppeThe real star of the menu at Akram's is their special recipe falafel sandwich. Unlike a regular falafel made with chick-peas, Akram's falafel is a mix of soya, fava and mung beans which form a crispy outer-shell in the deep-frier, preventing it from soaking up oil like chickpeas do. I've tried falafels all around the world, from Israel to Turkey to the famous Marais falafels in Paris, and I can honestly say this is one of the best I've ever had. It's filling and hearty without feeling heavy in my stomach. The falafel balls are toped with fresh fattoush, onions, tomatoes and drizzled with tahini sauce, then wrapped up and grilled in a fresh pita. At $2.99, it is Toronto's cheapest and healthiest falafel and 100% vegan to top.

Akrams ShoppeThe "hot meal" combo is another one of the best deals in Toronto. For just $4.99, diners are treated to a heaping plate of rice, salad and an entree of choice. The authentic Indian basmati rice, specially imported since Hiyam can't find the right kind in Toronto, is cooked differently (but always vegan) everyday with ingredients like chick peas, lentils, beets, and artichokes. There are an endless variety of entrees that change daily with two or three meats and at least one vegan option.

Akrams ShoppeI typically eat vegan but I decided the delectable chicken skewers looked too good to pass up so I quickly buried away every flashing image from Food Inc coming through my head. The chicken was char-grilled on the outside and perfectly tender and juicy all the way through. The large pieces of chicken pulled off easily and I ate them with the rice.

Akrams ShoppeI chose a mix of the two salads they offer, fattoush and spinach, rather than committing to one since they are both superb. I have never been keen on raw spinach but Akram's has managed to get me hooked. I asked if they lightly cooked their spinach to see if that was what made the difference, but Hiyam told me it was all raw since cooking it would cause it to lose nutrients. The fattoush, an ancient and traditional middle-eastern salad, is an exquisite blend of pomegranate (which Hiyam tells me is very high in antioxidants), cabbage, carrots, cucumber, tomato and spices.

Akrams ShoppeMy friend ordered one of my menu favourites, the hummus sandwich, which I got hooked on during the week it was on special for $1.99; each week features a different sandwich on special. A generous scoop of homemade hummus is spread onto a piece of pita bread- you can ask for whole wheat- and fattoush, tomatoes, onions topped on and the whole thing grilled together in a pita.

For only $2.99 it makes for a great, light and healthy meal or snack. Along with the sandwich, my friend ordered the vegan lentil soup, a creamy, thick blend of lentils and spices. For dessert, we both had a piece of fresh-out-of-the-oven sweet and gooey baklava made by Hyam's son Omar who is trained as a pastry chef from George Brown College.

Akrams ShoppeIn addition to serving prepared meals, Akram's is also a small grocery store, selling a number of their own homemade dips and twenty varieties of hummus including beet, squash, zucchini, dill parsley, coriander, and 'designer' cheese yogurt hummus. They also have a selection of imported middle-eastern groceries and sell bags of quinoa at $7.99 for two pounds, which you'd pay $9 for at the bulk food stores across the street.



Dirk / April 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm
Are these meals available through takeout?
Allie / April 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Allie / April 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm
Whose cute butt in the last photo?
Akramsshoppe replying to a comment from Dirk / April 4, 2011 at 01:47 pm
Yes all our meals are available to takeout
Akramsshoppe replying to a comment from Dirk / April 4, 2011 at 01:48 pm
Yes all our meals are available to takeout
Akramsshoppe replying to a comment from Allie / April 4, 2011 at 01:49 pm
Thank you very much for loving our store we love you too
Akramsshoppe replying to a comment from Allie / April 4, 2011 at 01:53 pm
We @ akrams want to thank Kaela for her lovely words she is so sweet for taking the time to write about us we promise everyone that we will do our best at all times thank you
yourmom replying to a comment from Allie / April 4, 2011 at 03:07 pm
I think it might be that girl from "Score!: A Hockey Musical"!!!
kaela replying to a comment from Akramsshoppe / April 4, 2011 at 03:10 pm
You're welcome Akram's! You guys deserve, keep up the good work and see you soon!
PDR / April 4, 2011 at 04:10 pm
"Akram's Shoppe has a simple philosophy: delicious, fresh and healthy food at prices affordable to everyone."

Healthy? Seriously?!

I went there once shortly after they reopened, and while the food was tasty, everything was drenched in oil. Even the pictures above reveal that. Just because the menu includes veggies does not make it healthy if so much oil is used (even if it's extra virgin olive oil).

I applaud the couple on reopening their restaurant and wish them well, and I don't mean to single them out, but why is it so difficult to find truly healthy food in this city? (By which I mean: food that has little or no oil, is not deep-fried, and is minimally processed/cooked.)
Akramsshoppe replying to a comment from PDR / April 4, 2011 at 04:23 pm
We appreciate your opinión and we thank you for your comment. Our rice has no oil, our lentil soup has no oil, most of our dips has no oil at all. We would like it if you give us another chance and please let us know that you want no oil in your food and we will tell you what would be best for you we cook so many different types of food and we have over 300 recepies I am sure if you try our food again letting us know about the oil you will be more satisfied we feel it's a little unfair to judge us based on one visit.
Thank you again for your opinion
yumyuminmytum replying to a comment from PDR / April 4, 2011 at 04:35 pm
The pictures of the food look like their drenched in oil? What pictures are you looking at?? This food looks fresh and deliiish, yum yum- doesn't look oily at all!
Brad / April 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm
I always stop in for a falafel when I am in the market, most times the wife serves me, such a nice lady.

Great sandwiches, although the last time I was there the chef (a new guy I think) didn't put enough sauce on my falafel, so I'm asking for extra sauce next time lol.

Good review though, I've always been curious about the rest of the menu, next time I'll ask for something with my falafel.
EricM / April 5, 2011 at 07:59 am
When this place was closed for reno's I was scared it wouldn't open again. I walked in on a whim years ago and have been going ever since. A great place and I'm so happy that the shop looks as good as the food tastes. If you havn't been, go.
CS / April 5, 2011 at 08:52 am
Best falafel in Toronto, hands down.
LJ / April 5, 2011 at 09:03 am
looks and sounds great, will check it out this weekend.
and thanks to the owners for responding in kind on here
j.reb / April 5, 2011 at 10:45 am
Deep frying isn't unhealthy, the Only reason any food is sogged out, is if the oil isn't hot enough. Period. No magical coating will work if your cooking oil temperature is too low.
Akrams shoppe replying to a comment from Brad / April 5, 2011 at 11:58 am
Dear Brad we are sorry for not putting enough sauce some of our staff are still training and they might not know always ask for extra sauce we will provide it at anytime thank you so much for coming to Akram's we appreciate all kinds of feed back cause this is how we improve thank you again
Akrams shoppe replying to a comment from EricM / April 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm
Thank you Eric for feeling that way we as well thought we won't be able to make it back in business it was very hard three years but now we are so happy that peole like you did not give up on us and still came to check. Thank you
Akrams shoppe replying to a comment from CS / April 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm
Thank you CS for your comment
Akrams shoppe replying to a comment from LJ / April 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Dear LJ we will look forward for your visit and thank for choosing us
pk / April 6, 2011 at 01:07 am
anyone else annoyed by the business interacting with every comment made? this is a review....not a promotional plug away for the business to use as a networking tool
jamiek replying to a comment from pk / April 6, 2011 at 09:21 am
it's annoying that a restaurant is taking time to respond to their customers comments? i think it's great and shows they are interested in what people think of their place and taking their input to improve it.
tommy james / April 7, 2011 at 08:26 am
best food in toronto. glad you are back. we love you.
jacquelyn / April 7, 2011 at 02:35 pm
I love this place! I try something different each time I go in - everything is awesome. And after getting a super awesome reco from my neighbour Kaela my frequency of visits have definitely gone up!
Michelle / April 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm
When I first moved to Toronto 10 years ago, and my only exposure to Middle Eastern food was felafel, I went into Akrams and the owner took time to explain all the foods and give me some tips on cooking different things. I appreciated that very much. We continue to go to Akram's any time we are in the market, and we were sad when they were closed for those 3 years. I have yet to leave the store without a full bag of their delicious dips and things for home. Everything is wonderful and I have not a single complaint. I am also impressed that the owners took the time to respond to peoples comments here. As a previous poster noted, it shows that they care.
stephanie / April 8, 2011 at 08:57 pm
I had heard so much about Akram's and finally discovered it today- being vegan, I was thrilled at the options! I went with the falafel- cheap, at $2.99! And amazing; fresh and filling but didn't leave me feeling heavy or overwhelmed. There is so much for me to eat that it will now become my default when I'm in the market. I love Herbivore and Hot Beans for being vegan but it's amazing to find another fabulous local to support, with incredible food and lovely service. thank you!
ashelyjenks / April 12, 2011 at 11:18 am
I absolutely love Akrams. The food is great and the prices even greater. My only complaint is the atmosphere. I was there on the weekend and it was all hustle and bustle and music playing outside on the street, but when I stepped into Akrams it was dead quiet with only the buzz of the fridges! Akrams : you NEED to get a sound system and get some great Middle Eastern music playing! It feels cold, awkward and univiting inside without music. The food is so great as are the renovations, just get a proper stereo (not the boombox I see sometimes!) with some nice traditional music and the place will be perfect!!!
Dave / April 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm
My wife and I thought we would drop into Akram's on Friday and it was amazing! The food was great (we had the falafel dinner and the beef shish kebab dinner). Everything was delicious but the falafel was AMAZING! The staff were both welcoming and helpful! We will definitely be back to visit Akram's again.
Baklava Bobby / April 26, 2011 at 02:45 pm
What??? You didn't try the Blueberry Baklava???

Are you crazy? Head back there right this minute and buy 1 piece. I guarantee that you will buy another piece right after.

It is amazing. One of the most unique baklava innovations in North America.

All the desserts and cookies are amazing as well.
m / June 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm
is your meat halal?
Chris Orbz / June 11, 2011 at 09:51 am
I recall getting a Rabba's falafel at under $2 and there are other places that invalidate the 'cheapest in Toronto' claim. Of course, the reason for the price break is you end up with a gross Rabba's falafel.
Also not healthiest when you compare to Israeli places, but a fair claim for downtown for sure.

The falafel platter was actually a rip-off though. Ali Baba's would've given me more food for less $ in a comparable meal. The platter menu items seem like they should be cross-combined in places.
yash / March 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm
I I'll defiantly give it a try for may be tommo I m big big fan of falafal thanks blog R.E.M.
Ron / March 29, 2012 at 12:19 am
I checked this place out a couple of times since reading this blog. The Felafel is made to order, veggies look nice and fresh and the place is clean. He now has a 1.99 special for Felafel which is a real bargain.
I also loved how he labels the vegan options and the variety of deserts and main courses.
Will definitely come back!
Laurie / July 28, 2013 at 09:19 pm
I'm heading to this place to check it out, just because I am so impressed by both the reviews and the fact that the owner is taking the time to be respectful to customers!
Laura / May 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm
I decided to check out this place Saturday afternoon. I was super excited because all of the reviews are so good. Unfortunately I found the food incredibly bland, and the presentation looked unappetizing. I ordered a falafel, and rice with vegetables and salad. It's a shame that I didn't enjoy my meal, as the staff was VERY nice and welcoming! I give the customer service 9/10, however the food gets a low 2/10.
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