A taste of the East Coast: King of Donair bringing N.S. favourites out West

HALIFAX — They’re spicy, they’re sweet, and now, they’re moving West.

Traditionally, the donair wrap — a beloved Nova Scotia delicacy consisting of a warm pita piled high with spiced meat, sticky-sweet donair sauce and other toppings — has been available almost exclusively on the East Coast.

But Nicholas Nahas, owner of King of Donair, says the franchise has already opened a store in Edmonton, with more to follow elsewhere in Alberta, as well as in B.C. and the other Prairie provinces.

“I’ve never heard of anyone who’s tried a donair for the first time, who enjoys meat, who’s not liked it,” Nahas said in an interview Sunday.

“The combination of the spiced meat and the sweet sauce really is a contrasting and complementing taste.”

The wrap, similar to a Greek gyro, was reputedly invented by King of Donair over 40 years ago. In 2015, Halifax named the donair as the city’s official food.

The idea to expand westward had been on Nahas’ mind for years, but the catalyst was when King of Donair held successful pop-up shops in Calgary and Edmonton a few years ago.

After seeing how many people were lining up for the tin-foil-wrapped fare, he decided to put his plan into action.

“The demand and the turnout there was something that we couldn’t ignore,” he said.

A few competing shops out West have already tried to replicate the wrap, but Nahas said it’s not the same.

Some may use a different type of meat, some may use the wrong sauce, and some may use different types of vegetables, opting for lettuce instead of the traditional toppings: onions and tomatoes.

“The donair was invented here in Halifax in ‘73 without lettuce,” said Nahas. ”For some reason, I don’t know why, lettuce just became part of the wrap out West.”

Kayla Burke, who runs the recently-opened Edmonton franchise, said you won’t find any lettuce in her shop.

Originally from Cape Breton, Burke said many Nova Scotians move to Western Canada for work and she’s happy to offer nostalgic Maritimers a taste of home.

“Since we’ve opened, we’ve had a line right out the door,” she said Sunday, estimating that around 75 per cent of her customers are from Nova Scotia. “So many Maritimers are so excited about it.”

What sets the donair apart from other wraps is the sauce: made with condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic, the creamy white dressing adds a uniquely sweet and tangy flavour to the greasy treat.

Burke said some places out West who try to replicate the donair use tzatziki, which is more savoury than sweet, adding that the shop’s more traditional-tasting sauce has been a hit among customers.

“Everyone’s so pumped about the donair sauce,” she laughed.

The Edmonton shop also sells other N.S. favourites like donair pizza and garlic fingers: a cheesy, garlicky flatbread cut into narrow slices and served with either donair or marinara sauce.

Another King of Donair store is set to open later this month in Grand Prairie, Alta.

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Except for 1 kick, Saints, Ravens are evenly matched

BALTIMORE — In a matchup between the league’s highest-scoring offence and top-ranked… Continue reading

Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

WASHINGTON — After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television… Continue reading

Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West enter Country Music Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE — Bluegrass and country star Ricky Skaggs, singer Dottie West and… Continue reading

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

LONDON — Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration… Continue reading

Canada deemed U.S. a safe country for asylum seekers after internal review

OTTAWA — Canadian immigration officials have determined that the United States remains… Continue reading

Bombardier sues Mitsubishi over alleged theft of aircraft trade secrets

MONTREAL — Bombardier is suing Mitsubishi Aircraft in the United States over… Continue reading

Three strong earthquakes reported in Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island

Three relatively strong earthquakes were recorded Sunday night in the Pacific Ocean… Continue reading

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Most Read