Sultans of Kebap – Anspachlaan, Brussels

What’s in a name? Over the years I have seen kebab houses bearing names with varying degrees of creativity. ‘Mustafa’s Gemüsekebab’ or ‘Kaplan Döner’ are both clear enough. ‘Mısır çarşısı’ is more evocative of distant places and exotic flavours. ‘Snackwagen’ boasts an instant cool. ‘Lunchroom Etenstijd’ on the other hand is about as crap as you can get. (‘Lunch room Food time’, I mean really…)

The proprietors of one particular döner establishment on Anspachlaan in Brussels city centre clearly wanted something more. They knew that their greasy corner of the döner market was bigger, better, grander than most. They needed a name to convey the pomp, the majesty of their premises. A name that would elevate them head and shoulders above the mere impostors of the kebab industry, and mark them out as the true masters of the meat-log rotisserie. And, I’m sure you will agree, they found just the right one. Mesdames et messieurs, I give you the sublime, the magnificent Sultans of Kebap!

Sultans of Kebab seem to have awarded themselves a generous five stars.

To be honest, last Friday night, I didn’t even want a kebab. A companion and I were making our way home from a party. Neither of us was particularly hungry. But then across the street I saw that big red sign, bearing those three immortal words: ‘Sultans of Kebab’. Such a grand name leaves a lot to live up to. What palatial treats awaited us within? And I knew right there and then that I had to find out.

Members of the men-only Meat-Lovers Anonymous attend a late-night board meeting at the Sultans' residence.

My expectations were raised high when I entered and saw not one, but TWO glistening logs of meat rotating like music-box ballerinas against the grill. When I heard the staff talking to each other in Turkish, I imagined that I was onto a winner. There were four of them, burly and uniformed behind the counter, ready to take our order. However, it soon became clear that the old adage remains true: too many chefs do spoil the broth. The four men spent most of their time arguing, bumping into each other, and getting in each other’s way. The overall impression was not one of well-oiled efficiency. As a final straw, I saw that their salad options included a huge trough of red cabbage, which as we all know has no place in a decent kebab.

Because what doesn't look more appetising with blobs of shredded carrot dumped all over it?

Nonetheless, it was too late to turn back. Somehow the four of them conspired to make me a dürüm, which was then handed over. My dinner companion bought a portion of chicken nuggets, just to embarrass me. Things were about to get rowdy when one of the chefs realised I was photographing the interior of the palace. “Il prend des photos!” the cry went up. And it could have been the worse for Dr Döner, had the four of them not been unable to navigate their way out from behind the confines of the counter.

One of the four kebab-men of the apocalypse shaves another hunk of flab from the rotisserie of existence.

We ate our gains out on the street while walking home. Central Brussels is a strange place at 1:30am. It is mostly full of groups of drunken men roving the streets. It was not the most comfortable experience, especially since I was trying to stuff a dürüm into my face. The night was also bitterly cold. Which is why, I imagine, the staff at Sultans of Kebab had wrapped my dürüm up extra warmly. Whereas most kebab establishments will simply wrap their wares in paper, the four Sultans had gone the extra mile. My dürüm was draped in a two-tone cape of both paper and tinfoil, keeping it hot on the inside and cool enough to hold on the outside. Imagine! It still didn’t make up for the decidedly average nature of the kebab, though. I guzzled down the dürüm as fast as I could, for it was impeding my homeward journey. And then, with its remnant sauces strewn down the insides of some municipal bin, I set off through the testosterone-charged streets back to St-Josse. An eventful night, but an unremarkable kebab. Until next time, Döner Fans!

The caped crusader. A baton of meat, alone in the night.

Results

Service: 2/5 (resistant to being photographed)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (testosterone-charged)

Price: 3/5 (I don’t remember, but average)

Taste: 3/5 (meh)

Photography by Dr. Döner

My Favourite Spam Part II

Hello, Döner Fans. If you enjoyed my earlier post, titled My Favourite Spam, then here is some more of exactly the same. Once again I have pushed my hand into the clammy confines of the spam filter and clawed out a handful of bizarre messages which somehow found their way to the Dr Döner website.

Some of them make sense, some of them don’t. As the writer Kahlil Gibran once observed, ‘our words are just crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind’. When I look at these spam messages, I imagine that the feast of the mind that spawned them was composed mostly of offal, bin refuse, and LSD. See if you can tease any meaning from the messages below, and feel free to send in your suggestions. (I promise they won’t just end up in the spam filter.) Enjoy another helping of my spam, Döner Fans!

What the world presumably looks like to writers of spam.

 

false email address: “WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for different jerseys. Visit my web-site”

You came here by searching for jerseys did you, Mr ‘false email address’?

 

Romaine Monsour: “ATTENTION PLEASE! Being fat person is not your destiny! Let me introduce you the awesome new fat-loss system”

I made my choice when I started a blog about kebabs, and I will live with the flabby consequences on my own terms.

 

nfl jerseys earning: “Good day! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing! Also visit my blog post”

Your previous roommate sounds like my sort of guy. Can’t wait to read more about him on your blog post.

 

Katrina: “Was in actual fact shopping for just an average shower enclosures during which I uncovered this fabulous site, did not even know there were any such thing as a ‘steam shower enclosure’, wow, might possibly just may have to acquire one. Stop by my homepage steam shower whirlpool tub”

No worries ‘Katrina’, my blog gets mistaken for a shower enclosure shop all the time.

 

usmovingsvc: “Thank you for this site, can blissfully announce we are in possession of a steam shower of our very own and we think its great. Here is my web page; steam and shower”

I guess ‘Katrina’ told her friends too.

 

basenotes: “Really had to stress I am delighted that i came in your website.”

Really hope you didn’t actually come in my website, ‘basenotes’.

 

Earnest: “Furthermore, we will not really perform any examination of your credit history or ask inquisitive questions regarding your financial status.”

Kind of you, Earnest. I always find those questions so awkward when strangers ask them.

 

sex prostitutes: “You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I feel I’d by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely huge for me. I’m looking forward on your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!”

You’re right, ‘sex prostitutes’, describing kebabs is quite a complicated matter. I will try to make my next post less indecipherable.

 

why are cats afraid of cucumbers videos: “Yelling at or hitting your cats isn’t only mean, it’ll backfire on you. Diet with proteins and proper food plan is rather important for cats they usually need continuous having access to water. Tell me more to do with it, how can my dog’s diet affect things.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought most life-forms needed continuous access to water? Did you write this message because you are feeding kebabs to your cat?

 

Jacques Poellinetz: “Hi there, You can exit your job right now. Click the link here to learn how. Have a Good day”

Presumably I can exit my job right now when I am fired for clicking on this suspicious link?

 

Rob Liefeld’s worst Rob Liefeld Drawings By Rob Liefeld: “LEAVE THIS, DONT BE SELFISH. DONT DELETE THIS.”

Oh I’ve done more than that, Rob Liefeld. I’ve published it for all to enjoy. No need to thank me!

 

That’s it again for now, Döner Fans. Inevitably, it does seem like there will be more again very soon. Cheers!

Dr. D

Snack Istanbul Leuvensesteenweg

Hello, Döner Fans. This time we are back in Brussels. Let me lay the scene. It was this Monday past, and I went looking for a kebab. It was a cold, wet day, like so many days here in Brussels, and my initial plan was to go to Turkuaz. Ah, Turkuaz! That oasis of meaty joy in a barren urban desert! I have been to Turkuaz more times than it is polite to mention. But as this blog is always craving for newer, fresher reviews, I thought I ought to try somewhere else.

There is a place not far from Turkuaz, close to Madou metro station, which I had passed several times before. In fact, I had eaten there once a few weeks ago at about 5am… but the less I say about that the better. (They had run out of kebab meat so they chopped up a strange, gristly burger and shoved it in some bread and called it a ‘Burger Dürüm’.) Anyway, I thought it was time to give the place a proper try. And so that night I approached its humble neon premises. Without further distraction, I give you: Snack Istanbul!

Snack Istanbul can be found in a prime location behind a Shanks refuse bin.

Snack Istanbul is located on Chaussée de Louvain (or Leuvensesteenweg) and is so exclusive that it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps. It has a big neon sign protruding onto the street so you don’t miss it, though. I went in around 8pm with an open mind. It was empty, apart from a man behind the counter who looked surprised to see me, as if he had not expected to serve any food tonight. I was tempted by the Dürüm Menu (dürüm, chips and a drink) which you can get at Turkuaz for 5 Euros, but at Snack Istanbul this costs 7 Euros. So I ordered a döner instead.

Peace reigns at Snack Istanbul. This is the place to come if you are in search of tranquillity.

The order went smoothly, apart from one small linguistic slip-up. When it came to sauces I once again forgot the French word for garlic, and so I just said ‘garlic’. But, embarrassed by this, I asked him ‘Comment est-ce qu’on dit garlic en français’, and he gladly told me. There is no end to one’s learning, Döner Fans! But, for the life of me, I no longer remember what the word was.

What does Snack Istanbul have under the counter? Some fake cheese, pickled peppers, various types of dodgy meat. All the classics.

My döner was duly slapped together and I took an ayran from the fridge. As I watched him making the kebab I surreptitiously took photos of his shop, while Sash’s Ecuador played in the background. When the food was handed over, I asked how much it was. The man gave me a sidelong look and appeared to be calculating it in his head. I had the uncomfortable feeling that he was calculating how many cents he could screw me out of. ‘Cinq euro,’ he announced. I didn’t argue. But at Turkuaz I would have got chips as well for that price.

Some non-descript meat peeks out from some non-descript bread.

I took the kebab home and ate it. It was very average. The meat seemed a bit dry and non-descript (it might have been chicken) and the sauce was a bit gluggy. The bread tasted a bit burnt from the grill. All in all, it was not a particularly decent kebab. I washed it down with my ayran, licked my delicate and well-formed fingers, and decided that no, I would not be rushing back to Snack Istanbul anytime soon. I don’t see why anyone would go there when the culinary delights of Turkuaz are a five minute walk away, and available at lower prices. Therefore my advice is: take the extra five minutes to get to Turkuaz, as you will not find kebab-joy at Snack Istanbul. Disagree? Write a comment. That’s all for now, Döner Fans!

The real connoisseur eats no other kind of ass.

Results

Service: 3/5 (good for linguistic tips)

Atmosphere: 2/5 (barren)

Price: 2/5 (seemed like more than it should have been)

Taste: 2/5 (very plain)

Photographs taken by Dr. Döner

Ali Ocakbaşı Herengracht

Welcome back, Döner Fans. And welcome to the sixtieth post on the Dr Döner blog! Sixty posts in four years might not sound like a lot. But rest assured I have had far more than sixty kebabs in that time. (Often I bought them from places that I had already reviewed.)

And so, in honour of this small milestone, I thought I’d review one of the best ever Turkish restaurants that I have been to. Yes, you read correctly. This is a true giant of Turkish cuisine, a palace of mouth-watering meats and spices, with warm and welcoming staff and a beautiful, traditional interior. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been there. (It was certainly often enough for them to start recognising me – always a danger in the food-review business.) And so without further ado, I give you Amsterdam’s very own: Ali Ocakbaşı!

First of all, the word ‘ocakbaşı’ [o-jack-bash-eugh] is a Turkish word which literally means ‘top of the oven’. This refers to a traditional type of restaurant which specialises in meals that are grilled on open fiery coals. (I can feel myself beginning to salivate even as I type.) Amsterdam’s Ali Ocakbaşı is located on the corner of Herengracht and Utrechtsestraat, not far from Rembrandt Square, and is based on the original Ali restaurant in Istanbul.

A Turkish friend recommended Ali Ocakbaşı to me, and I am eternally grateful that he did. On stepping off the street, diners are greeted to a hearty ‘Hoş geldiniz!’ [hosh gel-din-iz] (welcome) by the cheerful staff. You can sit downstairs (where the service is usually at its heartiest) or in the upstairs gallery which offers a view over the canal and the street. (If you sit on the side facing Utrechtsestraat you can even have a glimpse into the ‘coffee shop’ opposite, from which I have seen one or two former colleagues sheepishly emerging.) In terms of drinks, it is traditional to have a crisp glass of Turkish Efes Pilsner, but a nice glass of red wine will also go well with the succulent meat dishes that you will soon be enjoying.

The entrance to Ali on the corner of Herengracht

One thing that I always have with my meal is a glass of rakı. This is the famed aniseed-flavoured drink known sometimes as ‘lion’s milk’, and it is served in a narrow tumbler with optional ice and water. Personally I like to fill up the tumbler with ice and add only a dash of water to make the raki turn cloudy, while maintaining the thick, milky flavour of this potent Turkish tipple. But be warned, Döner Fans: two or three of these cheeky little snifters and you will be well on your way!

Raki: fresh from the lion's teat

Starters are served from a traditional meze platter. There is a large array of choice, but I would personally recommend the çiğköfte [chee-keuhf-tay]. This consists of delicate patties of ground meat and spices, served with salad leaves and fresh lemon. The staff may try to tell you that the meat is raw. But don’t worry, I’ve always been fine afterwards. In any case, no doubt the raki kills off anything untoward. Your meze is served together with a complimentary basket of hot and freshly-baked Turkish puffy bread, which needless to say is also delicious.

Meze, Efes and raki. The makings of a good evening.

One peculiarity at Ali’s is that you are usually asked for your main course order only after you have finished your meze. However, the service is quick and usually you will not have to wait long. I can recommend three main course dishes that I have found to be of particular excellence.

  • The first is the kuzu şiş: this consists of succulent pieces of cubed lamb which are literally oozing with juices. These generous chunks simply melt in the mouth.
  • The second is the ali nazik: this consists of minced kebab and spices served on a bed of creamed aubergine. This was my regular Friday night treat back when I was living in Istanbul, and is a true meaty, creamy delight.
  • The third is the ali fıstıklı: this is ground meat and spices laced with shards of pistachio, which add an extra note of refinement to this kebab’s already tantalising set of flavours.

The kuzu şiş in the foreground, and the ali nazik in the background.

All these main meals are served with Turkish flat bread, a portion of Turkish bulgur, a minty rocket salad, and a grilled tomato and green pepper. All this is served on a spacious wooden board to accommodate this vast smorgasbord of culinary delights.

When I first started going to Ali, I found the portion sizes too large to finish. But with practice, this no longer became a problem. Copious servings of Efes and raki tend to help. The décor in the interior is rustic chic, and combines a home-cooking feel with stylish Turkish panache. But to be honest, the food is so good that they could serve it to me from a bucket in a shed and I would still recommend it.

A close-up of the ali mixed grill.

Be friendly to the staff. Attempt a few words in Turkish with them, if you can. I have been rewarded with free raki, Turkish tea, and coffee simply for throwing in the occasional phrase in Turkish. On one memorable occasion the mood was so jolly that we received a free serving of baklava on the house.

Complimentary baklava and Turkish coffee. This was a good day.

At the end of your meal, the only downside may be the bill. Yes, Ali Ocakbasi tends towards the expensive side. For a main meal you are looking at 22 or 23 Euros. However, it is Dr Döner’s editorial opinion that the price is worth it. I am yet to have a better Turkish meal than the fare that is served in Ali’s.

The price list. Just close your eyes and think of the meat.

The prime location of the restaurant also means that you are only a very short walk either from Rembrandt Square and the city centre, or the many traditional Dutch bars that are to be found along Utrechtsestraat (if the raki has not rendered you too legless). Ali Ocakbasi is somewhere I will be returning to. Give it a try if you’re ever in Amsterdam, Döner Fans! You won’t regret it.

Results

Service: 5/5 (warm and friendly)

Atmosphere: 5/5 (stylish but homey)

Price: 4/5 (pricey but well worth it)

Taste: 5/5 (maaşallah!)

Photographs taken by Dr. Döner

My Favourite Spam

Hello Döner Fans. When your blog becomes as popular as this one (by which I mean not very popular at all) it begins to attract an increasing volume of spam. Thankfully, there are copious anti-spam plug-ins out there, which are capable of fencing you off from the vast majority of these unwelcome outbursts of embarrassment, vulgarity, and oddness. The Dr Döner spam filter currently contains about 3,800 spam messages.

A tin of spam. I wouldn't climb over a nice kebab for it.

Spam is like red cabbage in your döner. There is always more of it than you would like. But what to do with it all?

I have always striven to turn problems into opportunities, Döner Fans. And so, after a brisk trawl through some of my most recent spam, I found the following nuggets for you, as a flavour of the vast amount of junk that floats around out there on the internet.

As you will see, the world of spam is populated by people flogging dodgy links, selling fake fashion replicas, and marketing Viagra. It is a glimpse into a bizarre, mercenary, and sexually-charged world. Here, for your perusal, is a selection of some of my spam. Enjoy, Döner Fans!

 

replica watches: “Thanks for the marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.”

Thank you, ‘replica watches’. And I’ll be sure to put you on the list for a complimentary copy of my first novel.

 

hn skin care: “Нoneymark uses Manuka Honey in іts skin care products, which is naturallу produсed by bees who gather nectar from the Manuka tree, indigenous to the pollution-free environmеnt of New Zealand.”

This spam was factual and interesting. Doesn’t have much to do with kebabs though.

 

wine: “Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!”

I’m sure you had to tell someone. But that someone was not me.

 

time tregg sees: ”Hello, you used to write great, butt the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past few posts are justt a little out of track! come on!”

Clearly ‘time tregg sees’ (if that is his real name) is not a kebab fan. Probably only eats shawarma.

 

t shirt halloween femme enceinte: “Great items from you, man. I’ve take note your stuff prior to and you are simply extremely magnificent. I really like what you have obtained here, really like what you are saying and the way in which in which you assert it. You make it entertaining and you continue to care for to stay it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you. That is really a terrific site.”

Not sure why this is spam, really. Sounds like legitimate praise to me.

 

domains za: “Actually no matter if someone doesn’t be aware of afterward its up to other people that they will help, so here it occurs.”

Cryptic… very cryptic. I will spend hours tonight trying to prise pearls of meaning from this linguistic clam. All suggestions are welcome, Döner Fans.

 

telewizja online za darmo w uk: ”It’s impressive that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well as from our dialogue made at this place.”

I’m afraid I have no recollection of that dialogue, sadly. Which is a shame, because it sounds as if we would really have got on.

 

otc male enhancement: ”I quickly stood up and attempted to push the balls out with my vagina. Feel free to visit my blog”

Whoa there! This sounds like an excerpt from a challenging piece of contemporary performance art.  Wasn’t Equus deemed controversial when it first came out, after all? As for visiting the blog, though…nah.

 

Well that’s all for now, Döner Fans. But no doubt there will be more soon. In the meantime I’m off to see if I can figure out what ‘domains za’ was trying to tell me. Wish me luck…

Au revoir!