Pocket Pita Pop Up is an Israeli eatery located on Young Street in Neutral Bay. They serve up chicken shawarma, 12 hour lamb shoulder or roasted cauliflower in crispy pita bread cups or in soft pita sandwiches and knafeh and baklava for dessert. Alongside the food offerings are a range of Israeli soft drinks and cocktails.
"I know this place, it used to be a bar," says Laura looking around. Indeed Pocket Pita Pop Up is located at the former site of Firefly bar. Not much has changed inside and PPPU has the same owner in Daniel Sofo.
At the Israeli eatery it is mostly self service where you order via a website on your phone. It's a bit confusing and takes a bit more time ordering this way (spoiler: Laura hates it) as you flip back and forth between sections. Basically everything on the menu designed by Israeli chef Nissim Elkabetz is either in a soft pita bread or in a crispy deep fried pita bowl. There are fillings like lamb, chicken, felafel and cauliflower as well as dips and felafel on the side to share.
Ordering this way means that it is as fast or slow as you want it to be. But it also means that the two staff members on the floor (who are both lovely) are hard to get a hold of because they were always so busy ferrying food to everyone. Honestly, it was a little stressful.
The food comes out quickly. Very quickly and in about 5 minutes' time they are bringing our meals. Although there are two of us, Laura and I order enough for two imaginary friends. Our drinks come out last but as Firefly was a bar we have high expectations. The Baklava Espresso Martini is made with Bailey's and pistachio flavours with chocolate on top. It's sweet and desserty although not quite flavoured like a baklava if that's what you were hoping for. The Rosewater, almond and lemon soda is refreshing and not overly sweet. It's is also pictured on the menu as coming in a plastic cup but it comes in a proper glass which is nice.
The falafels are crunchy and come four to a serve although they are curious as they don't really taste like felafels, more like a thin schnitzel without the spices that you would normally get with felafel. They come on a bed of coarse hummus with amba mango hot sauce in the centre and deep fried za-atar crisps on the side. I especially like the amba hot sauce as it has a good amount of spice in it.
One of my favourite items is the roasted cauliflower bowl with dark roasted cauliflower florets, red onion toasted chickpeas, parsley, green tahini, za-atar crisps in a deep fried laffa bread bowl. All it needs is a little amba hot sauce and it's fantastic.
Laura doesn't eat lamb so I had the lamb pita all to myself. It's a slow-cooked lamb shoulder with babahummus (a mix of baba ghanoush and hummus), tahini, cucumber, pickles and amba. It's tasty although a little expensive for a sandwich.
We ordered the spiced marinated chicken shawarma pita with onions, hummus, tahini, cucumber, pickles and amba. It usually has matchuba in it but Laura is allergic to capsicum so they didn't include it. I liked it but a bit more amba would have been good in its place. I had the matchuba on the side and it didn't add a lot to it.
We probably didn't need the chicken shawarma bowl as well as the pita but we got a bit confused with the ordering. It's the same spiced marinated chicken, onions, hummus, tahini, cucumber, matbucha, pickles and amba in a laffa bowl.
The only thing that we didn't really go for are the zucchini fries tossed in za'atar which are actually from Firefly. They're not very crisp and they're a bit floppy in texture. Also we measure zucchini fries against the amazing ones are Grill'd and they're just not as exciting.
Laura and I have both had amazing knafeh in Dubai so we always compare it but this version is actually very good. There's the stretchy cheese, dabs of salty curd, crisp kataifi pastry and rose syrup. You really need to eat this straight away to get the full effect of the cheese stretch.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like the idea of the crisp pita bowl or would you prefer a soft pita sandwich? Do you prefer ordering via an app or with a person?
This meal was independently paid for.
Pocket Pita Pop Up
24 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
Tuesday to Sunday 11:30am–9pm
Phone: (02) 9909 0193