Approach LemonRose’s refurbished Viscount trailer from behind and the graffiti will tell you everything you need to know about head chef and owner Antoin Safadi’s vision: “America Meets the Middle East Street Eats”. This ethos is found in everything from the truck’s design to the soft drinks he offers. Safadi works with a supplier who imports Pepsi and 7Up from Lebanon specifically because the drinks have Arabic script on their labels.
“It’s all about the fusion for me. I’ve traveled all over the States and I love the food. And I’ve traveled all around the Middle East, I grew up with that food. The two cultures really complement each other,” says Safadi, who is of Jordanian heritage. The four items on the concise menu pay homage to both cultures, each featuring the flavours lemon and rosewater.
Safadi converted the trailer into a food truck himself over a two-year period and enlisted Sydney graffiti artist Mr. G to decorate it. Adorned with mismatched neon signs, license plates and trinkets Safadi picked up on his travels, the truck looks at home by the side of a highway.
The menu’s star is the WTF shawarma burger. The patty is made from beef brisket smoked for 24 hours in a dry spice rub. “In a typical brisket burger you get your coleslaw and meat. For this one the top bun has a lemony, American mustard sauce and the bottom bun’s sauce is made from hummus, rosewater, beetroot and sumac,” says Safadi. Coleslaw is substituted for a mixture of pickled cabbage and red onions. The burger is finished with cheese and pickles.
His intricate, finely tuned sauces define the menu. LemonRose’s potatoes come in a box with clear instructions: squeeze the lemon, close the box, shake. On their own, the chunky fries are interesting enough, but they come with a zesty green sauce that combines – among other things – parsley, coriander, mustard, walnut, sumac and rosewater.
Also on offer is a twist on traditional Jordanian a’wama (doughnuts). Called amreeka balls on the menu, the a’wama are twice cooked and soaked in Hershey’s chocolate syrup, maple syrup, rosewater, orange blossom water and cinnamon. For a lighter finish a meal, LemonRose also sells a lemon and rosewater sorbet.
Safadi is currently working on perfecting a chicken option and a falafel po’boy sandwich.
LemonRose doesn’t have a permanent home but Safadi hopes to set up in the parking lot of Tempe’s Coffee and Co Roasters one night a week for the foreseeable future.