Döner Fans, I bring you sombre news. I wish it were not so. Fish out your black armbands, for this is a sad day in the kebab calendar. All jests shall be put aside. If you had not heard already, Kadir Nurman, the gentleman widely credited with inventing the Döner Kebab, has carved his last slice from the great, rotating meat-stick of life and has departed from our mortal company. Yes, this colossus of the fast-food industry has passed away at the grand age of 80. So long, great man! Allow me to present humbly the following obituary. And as one might say in his native Turkey: nur içinde yat, Kadir Usta!

Kadir Nurman: the great man himself, tucking into a good meal


Kadir Nurman, born 1933 in Istanbul, is the man who first sold döner meat and salad in flat bread. At the age of 26 he emigrated from Istanbul to Stuttgart, finally moving to West Berlin in 1966 where he worked as a mechanic for a printing press. In 1972 he opened a Döner stall at Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten train station, thus revolutionising the West German food industry. Kadir Nurman altruistically did not seek to patent his invention and as such did not profit from the subsequent explosion of popularity in döner kebabs once other vendors got hold of the idea. While selling grilled meat on a skewer was common practice in Turkey, the idea of stuffing it into a bit of bread and lashing it with sauces came from him. In his own words: ‘through me the kebab was known’.

Kadir Nurman casting a sagely eye over recent kebab developments

There you have it, Döner Fans. Doff your caps for this departed hero. I for one shall be marking his departure with a kebab. I hope we meet again in happier times.

To Recap: What Have We Learned?

“nur içinde yat” [noor eetch-een-day yat] (rest in peace)

photographs courtesy of Berliner Zeitung

Pamfilya Ocakbaşı, Luxemburger Str. 1

Hello Döner Fans. If you take a stroll along Luxemburger Straße in the bustling district of Wedding, then chances are you will pass by a number of equally bustling Turkish restaurants and fast-food establishments. So it always has been, and so it always will be. But hark! Of late there is a new player in this Great Game of rival food-vendors, which has thrust open its doors to the hungry passer-by. I bring you news of Pamfilya Ocakbaşı, a spanking new restaurant right in the heart of the up-and-coming Sprengelkiez (or whatever the estate agents are trying to call the area) where one can purchase a veritable smorgasbord of regional culinary delicacies from the Anatolian peninsula. Yes, its doors are open for business and its grills are jostling with choice kebab meat. Having passed by this bright red neon siren-in-the-night for a couple of weeks I, Dr Döner, decided to take my photographer in tow and avail myself of the choice nibbles that were no doubt to be found within.

The bright lights of Pamfilya viewed from across the road

The slightly dingy-looking customers ogled us suspiciously as we swung into the restaurant, and we took a table at the back in order to gain a commanding view of the interior. The menu was brought, and I have to say my mouth watered at the glistening images of meat and bread and salads that were illustrated therein. Having braved a cold and windy evening to be there, I rewarded myself by ordering none other than a plateful of Adana kebab which, as we all know, consists of minced lamb served with bread and salad, and garnished with one green pepper and half a red tomato. When it came, I tucked in with gusto.

Adana kebab, and some manly elbows

The flavours were very pleasant and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed that meal. The atmosphere inside the restaurant was pretty standard for a middle-range kebab house, and the staff were friendly enough. Prices were reasonable for what you got, considering it was a sit-down meal, and I was also made aware of the daily specials which looked very appetising and could be bought fairly inexpensively during the day. All in all, it was a very tasty experience. Nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing to challenge the majesty of Baba Sultan meatball house which could be glimpsed just across the street (for no restaurant can hope to approach the perfection that those meatball-artisans weave into their grilled goods) but it was nonetheless a very enjoyable experience. Bravo, Pamfilya! Dr Döner may well be back again.

The interior - note the shifty character in the corner


Service: 3/5 (friendly)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (standard for a kebab restaurant)

Price: 3/5 (reasonable)

Taste: 3/5 (tasty!)