Mustafa’s Syrian Kitchen, an island-based catering business serving up dishes from owners Mustafa Al Mustafa and Jamila Aldahir’s native Syria, launched a new food truck this month, parked outside Kush 21 on Vashon Highway from 11 a.m to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Al Mustafa told The Beachcomber that dozens of islanders have come up to his concession window for a bite to eat since he opened. To the reporter, the star of last week’s menu was the shawarma meal, complete with rice, tender, tangy chicken, delicious hummus and salad. Islanders looking for something lighter can opt for a number of sandwiches, seasoned baba ganoush, lentil soup, and baklava for desert.
Running Mustafa’s Syrian Kitchen, said Al Mustafa, is hard work for the couple, and with the plethora of dining options available on Vashon, he said, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Still, he said passion for their craft makes it easier.
“When you know you’re working correctly, that is easy. It is very easy,” he said, adding that he was grateful to the other businesses in Courthouse Square for hosting them and being good neighbors.
Aldahir, who prepares lunch at the Vashon Senior Center on Bank Road weekly at noon on Fridays, said that the community’s love for the family’s cuisine has inspired her. So does bringing islanders good food to eat.
“That makes me happy,” she said.
For her part, Catherine Swearingen, executive director of the senior center, said that she is delighted by Aldahir’s cooking — low in sodium yet still flavorful — and her weekly presence at the center.
“She brings a new culture that we’re celebrating, and it’s been very well received, and she’s just such a lovely person and she’s wonderful to work with. We’re just so happy that she is sharing her gifts with us,” she said, recommending Aldahir’s parsley fritters, lentil soup and hummus.
The Al Mustafa family lived in the city of Idlib outside Aleppo at the onset of the civil war in Syria that began nearly a decade ago and continues to devastate the country. Forced to flee as the violence escalated, the family settled in a Turkish refugee camp for three years before moving to Tukwila, Washington. They arrived on the island after members of the Vashon Resettlement Committee offered to further support them, drawn to the close-knit community that reminded them of what they had left behind.
The food truck will not be open this week due to allow for Al Mustafa and Aldahir’s daughter to recuperate from surgery.