Eetsalon De Mol – Molsteeg 3

Hello Döner Fans. Those of you who frequent the city centre of Amsterdam may have stumbled across the diamond-in-the-rough that is undoubtedly Eetsalon De Mol. If the buskers, pickpockets and selfie-stick-wielding tourists of Dam Square have drained your energy, then why not take a gander to the back streets of the local area? Perhaps the throbbing masses have driven you onto the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal behind De Nieuwe Kerk. Perhaps from there, ducking between the trams, traffic and cyclists, you’ve found your way to the mouth of Molsteeg alley, and are peering into its seedy depths towards the dim lights of Spuistraat beyond. Perhaps you are lost. Perhaps you are desperate. But wait: what’s this? Your eyes alight upon a beacon of hope in this urban desert: the cosy red and yellow sign of Eetsalon De Mol grabs your attention, and like Alice in Wonderland you descend into the rabbit-hole in search of meaty treats. And meaty treats, indeed, there will be. I bring you: Eetsalon De Mol!

Eetsalon De Mol does not discriminate. There is no type of fast-food they will not warm up for you.

Dr Döner has been known to roam the area around Spuistraat and Singel at times, so it is no surprise that his path crossed that of De Mol sooner rather than later. On this occasion, I was hungry. It had been a taxing day. Work had been done. It was now time for sustenance. Gathering a pair of handy eating companions, I plunged into the eerie gloom of Molsteeg alley and opened the glass door that led into the Eetsalon’s inner clutches. We stood and looked over the room within.

The slick, wipe-down chic interior of Eetsalon De Mol.

What strikes you most about the interior design when you enter is the innovative two-tier layout. This involves a lower front dining area and a raised back zone which houses the counter and the food preparation area. Ascending the steps to the counter, you might feel as if you are approaching some higher authority, like the altar in a secretive temple dedicated to the prehistoric gods of food. Once at this heady altitude you must place your order, before being banished back down to the lower chamber below, to await your kebab.

I had ordered a ‘broodje-doner’, or a döner in bread. As we sat there taking surreptitious photographs, it was observed that there was no log of döner meat on display behind the counter. Did this mean that there was some state-of-the-art larder out of sight, whose temperature was strictly regulated, in which the prime döner-meat was housed and prepared? Alas no, the meat was in a sack under the counter. It was taken out and lovingly tossed onto the hot-plate, where its transformation from flaccid grey to crispy brown was meticulously controlled by the moustachioed chef who had taken our orders. We waited. The tension mounted. The chef asked if I wanted chilli and garlic sauce. I said yes. Time passed. Eventually the chef called down to us that our food was ready. We took our parcels and departed. The glass door swung shut behind us, and we were back in the real world.

A selection of garlic sauces, and Dr Döner’s ear.

We took our food to a place of safety, and warily unwrapped the tinfoil that enfolded our food. I have to say, my döner was not the greatest success story to come out of Amsterdam. Most of the filling was OK as it oozed across the tinfoil, but the bread was too well-fired and brittle, and failed to hold its contents together. I was already predisposed to dislike this döner, since the price (though I can’t remember it exactly) had seemed a little high for such a small meal. Nonetheless, I ate my döner to the last mouthful, though without gusto. My companions, who had ordered other things, were less disappointed. The ‘patat oorlog’ was especially nice, for instance. Indeed, I had been warned in the past that an Eetsalon is not an appropriate place to buy kebab since it caters more towards the Snack-market which is popular in the Netherlands. Maybe if I go back to Eetsalon De Mol a second time, I will try some of its other fare. However, I think not. Dr Döner and De Mol have parted ways.

The bready clam is prised open to reveal its meaty pearls.

Results

Service: 3/5 (fine)

Atmosphere: 2/5 (plasticky)

Price: 2/5 (seemed a bit much)

Taste: 2/5 (not the best)

Photography courtesy of Messrs. M. Koopmans and C.J. Hudson

Bakkerij Kara Fırın, Molukkenstraat 145

Greetings, Döner Fans. I write this with the sauce still dribbling from my fingers, as I have just finished eating a quite delightful dürüm. Let me lay the scene. I had been returning from a hard day in the centre of Amsterdam, the weather was cold, and the light was fading. In a stroke of ill fortune, events had conspired to prevent me from having any lunch, and as a result I was desperate for sustenance. While charging down Molukkenstraat after getting off my tram, my eyes espied the lights of Bakkerij KARA FIRIN – an establishment I have walked past numerous times, but whose wares I had never sampled. Fogging the window with my ravenous breath, I gazed in upon the display of breads and pastries, and above all upon the twin logs of rotating meat glistening against the warm glow of the hot-plates. Like two pillars of joy, out of which seeped the greasy nectar of the gods. I rushed inside and placed my order.

Bakkerij Kara Firin glimpsed from across Molukkenstraat.

The décor inside was basic and utilitarian. I admit I did not have high hopes for the meal. But I ordered a lamb dürüm nonetheless with all the trimmings. The service was business-like – this was of course a daytime bakery, and not some dodgy late-night joint catering to ne’er-do-wells and the like. As such, my bread was placed in one of the traditional arched ovens at the back of the shop to be properly warmed. As it bathed in the smoky glow of the oven, I looked at the selection of options arrayed before me: as far as I could tell, there were only two types of sauce, and the only salad choice was iceberg lettuce. When I asked for ‘everything’ to be added to my dürüm, these were what I got. I paid up and departed with my feast.

The kebab-autopsy under way.

Once back in Döner HQ I unwrapped my dürüm to find that it had cooled a little during the walk. I was ready for a disappointment. But then, as I bit down into it, a wave of flavour overcame me and my doubts were swept aside. Each sliver of meat was moist and packed with a subtle spiciness that prickled on the palate. The combination of hot and herbal sauce complemented the meat beautifully, and the lettuce provided a background freshness while remaining unobtrusive. I think that this is probably the closest I have found to the type of dürüm you can get in Istanbul. In any case, the tastes transported me back to the rickety streets of Beyoğlu and Galata where my love for the humble kebab was first born. My only complaint is that the dürüm was small and over far too soon. Yet, while it may not have compared to Kaplan’s giant dürüms in terms of quantity, where for the same price (3,50€) you can get something the size and girth of your forearm, this innocent dürüm from Bakkerij Kara Firin more than made up for that with its authentic taste. Bravo, Bakkerij Kara Firin! Dr Döner is a fan.

Results

Service: 4/5 (normal for a bakery, I suppose)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (fine)

Price: 3/5 (fairly standard)

Taste: 5/5 (very tasty)

Photographs taken by Dr. Döner.

VU Döner Boelenlaan

Good day, Döner Fans. I hope you’ve all had a lovely Valentine’s Day. Recently, while on business at the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) here in Amsterdam, I was lucky enough to partake of a very passable döner. What was Dr Döner doing at the Vrije Universiteit, I hear you ask? What would a respectable academic such as himself be doing at Amsterdam’s second-best university? Well as it happens, Dr Döner was giving a talk for prospective postgraduate students interested in beginning a PhD in Kebab Studies (my own career background). I will be honest with you, I was not that impressed with the talent on offer. But I shall consider their thesis proposals nonetheless. Anyway, all of this is beside the point, because it was after this business was concluded that an accomplice and I headed out to the kebab stall we had seen on our way over. For those of you unfamiliar with the VU, this stall is located on a little square next to Boelenlaan tram stop. It’s easy to find.

The ravenous hordes gather around their wounded prey.

We fought our way through a veritable horde of hungry döner-munchers to place our orders. A döner cost 3,50€ so we ordered one each. Given the size of the crowd, the service was efficient and business-like, and the two gentlemen inside the kebab van set briskly to work. I was pleased to see them using traditional Turkish pide bread for their döners, rather than the mass-produced buns you sometimes find in less salubrious establishments. They also had a large pile of tempting lahmacun stacked up on display, so you could tell that they were serious about their food. The only slightly off-putting element was the colour and texture of the rotating log of ‘lamb’ döner at the back of the van, which was a particularly greasy shade of grey. To be honest, it did not look a lot like meat. But we ordered it anyway.

The kebab, illuminated by the soft light of a lamp post.

We ate our döners while marching in the direction of Amsterdam Zuid station. The evening was cold. The walk took us through a district of high-rise offices and banks, looking something like Amsterdam’s version of Canary Wharf. Indeed, we passed by a bar which was hoaching with bankers and business-types. Anyway, we ate as we walked, and the kebab itself was really rather pleasant. The meat was tasty in spite of its appearance, and the salad was fresh and crispy. There was even some red onion in it, which as I’ve said before, is always a sign of a classy kebab. The only annoyance was the fact that the sauce had been added to the bread first, with the result that most of the filling had no sauce on it until you got to the very bottom, when you were left only with some very saucy bread. It was a messy end to an otherwise enjoyable kebab. Satisfied, I discarded the remains of my saucy bread and, having thus eaten our fill, we mosied into the bar in the hope of spending an equally saucy evening.

Results

Service: 4/5 (very efficient)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (bustling)

Price: 3/5 (standard)

Taste: 4/5 (very nice)

Photographs courtesy of Mr M. Koopmans.

Bocadillos, Molukkenstraat 157H

Happy New Year, Döner Fans! And what a year this promises to be. A whole twelve months stuffed to overflowing with potential kebabs, lahmacuns and kapsalons all waiting to be eaten. What new food-related surprises, disappointments and delights will 2015 bring to us all? Let me start off with an homage to the passing of 2014, with a report on the last kebab of that illustrious year, which I consumed on the 19th of December. It was a cold, windy Friday and darkness had fallen. There were plans afoot to go a-wassailing in the dive bars of Amsterdam, and hearty sustenance was required before festivities could begin. To this end, I traipsed down Molukkenstraat in Amsterdam’s Southeast in search of some food for the soul. It was there that I happened upon Bocadillos.

The sweaty glow of Bocadillos from across the street

I don’t know exactly why it calls itself Bocadillos, since neither the staff nor the cuisine appear to be Spanish. In any case, the neon light lured me into the restaurant’s plasticky clutches and on perusing the menu I found that many sorts of kapsalon were on offer. Hurray! In broken Dutch I ordered a ‘kapsalon kefta’ for the sum of 5 Euros, and the heavyset man behind the counter began preparing it for me. He sweated in the heat as he crafted the feast. This particular kapsalon was to consist of long fingers of meatball (kefta) rather than standard döner meat, and these spiced fingers of meat were grilled and chopped before my eyes. Then, they were placed in their aluminium vessel upon a bed of fresh chips, then sprinkled with cheese and doused in spicy, garlicky sauces. The whole affair was then put into the oven to melt together into an artery-thickening mess of fatty goodness. Once ready, it was removed from the oven and a layer of salad was added, to give the illusion that this was a balanced meal. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, more sauces, and finally a few green olives were placed on top to complete the kapsalon. After paying the man, I smuggled it hastily back to Döner HQ to eat.

A thing of rare beauty - the Bocadillos Kapsalon

I have to say, the kapsalon was sinfully delicious. It was one of those meals you have to slow down to enjoy, for fear of eating it too fast and then being left frustrated and unfulfilled. The man at Bocadillos had prepared a meal of true excellence. I forgave him the suspicious glances he’d thrown me while making my kapsalon, and the glistening layer of sweat that covered his head and face as he slaved over the hot grill. I forgave the curt manner with which he had squirted the sauces joylessly onto my chips, and the atmosphere of vague hostility which permeated his shop. I would ride all those rapids again and gladly, for another portion of Señor Bocadillos’ glorious kapsalon. Bravo, Bocadillos! You have upheld the high standard set by Fuat Bey and his Snackwagen. Dr Döner will return again soon to break in the first meal of 2015, and fend off the January chill with a fatty layer of kapsalon!

Results

Service: 2/5 (sweaty and suspicious)

Atmosphere: 2/5 (plasticky and sticky)

Price: 3/5 (standard)

Taste: 5/5 (oh, my god)

Photographs taken by Dr. Döner

Snackwagen, Amsterdam Sciencepark

Hello Döner Fans. Sorry to leave you hanging so long. Dr Döner has finally adjusted to his new home for the year and is now BACK in ACTION. That’s right, Dr Döner is in Amsterdam! Now, let me introduce you to a new delight I have discovered. Every country has its own take on the döner (some better than others) and in the Netherlands they have come up with something quite special, and they call it Kapsalon. Which literally means ‘Barber Shop’ in Dutch. And it is very tasty! It is a layer of Dutch frites covered in a layer of kebab meat covered in a layer of cheese covered in sauce and salad. It’s like a punch in the heart.

The Kapsalon in all its glory. Get me on that!

While exploring my local area near the Amsterdam Sciencepark, I came across a cosy looking little hut on wheels bearing the tempting words ‘Snackwagen’. The Snack-Wagon had caught my attention! I approached and promptly ordered a Kapsalon, about which I had heard great things. A very cheerful man served me and it turned out – lo and behold! – he was from Istanbul! Our friendship was immediately established. In any new city it is expedient to find a friendship group, Döner Fans. And in Mr Fuat of the Snackwagen I had found my first taker. He chatted away about his holiday in Turkey where he had seen many interesting things (it was in Turkish so I filled in the gaps with guesswork) before announcing that just for me he had made an extra big Kapsalon. ‘Yes, you will not want to eat again for two days!’ he said proudly as he handed it over for the sum of 5 Euros. I wasn’t sure if it was a promise or a threat!

The Snackwagen by day, before the meat hits the party fan. Nobody knows where he goes during the day.

I have to say, when I tucked into my Kapsalon back at Döner HQ, I was in seventh heaven. Fuat Bey had crafted a delicious repast to satisfy body and soul, and Dr Döner was indeed satisfied. For 5 Euros I was as stuffed as I have ever been. The only slight disadvantage of the Kapsalon is that it takes so long to make, since the frites have to be deep-fried and the whole thing has to sit in the oven for a while so that the cheese melts. But I will certainly be visiting the Snackwagen again very soon! Well done, Snackwagen – Dr Döner is a convert!

Results

Service: 5/5 (very friendly and warm)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (cosy)

Price: 3/5 (dearer than döner)

Taste: 5/5 (delicious)

Photography taken by Dr Döner.