Capadocia Kebab, Anspachlaan 42, Brussels

Hello again, Döner Fans. Recently I was visited by friends from everyone’s favourite soon-to-be-former EU Member State, the UK. I do still maintain some contact with the motherland, tenuous though it may be. In any case, one does not simply visit Dr Döner without going for a kebab. And as such, following an evening of drinks and risqué badinage at a well-known Brussels beer bar, it fell to me to slake the meaty lusts of my visitors upon the greasy altar of vertical meat bi-product rotisserie. I give you: Capadocia Kebab!

Capadocia Kebab beckons you in with two strange and ghostly children.

On entering, I launched forth a cheery ‘iyi akşamlar’. It was not cheerily received. The orange-clad meat-warriors behind the counter did not seem enthused by our custom. Taking this snubbing of my Turkish on the chin, I ordered a dürüm for the higher-than-usual price of 5 Euros.

The orange-clad meat-warriors of Capadocia carve their livelihood from glistening cliffs of meat.

We colonised a group of tables and the food was brought to us. Pleasingly the meat-to-salad ratio in my dürüm was high, and the glistening brown matter worked well with the sauces and salad to satisfy my aching beer-fuelled hunger. It was one of the meatiest kebabs I’ve had in a while. Perhaps it was a little over-priced at 5 Euros, but then we were eating slap-bang in the centre of Brussels, and not in some quiet corner of Saint-Josse.

Capadocia's abundance of meat, and some tomatoes of various pleasing shapes.

While the staff at Capadocia showed little interest in our table, one of the orange-clad gents did spend a lot of time trying to chat up a nearby table of girls. I didn’t catch the specifics of the conversation, though I think he might have been trying to tell them about his motorbike. He was robustly unperturbed by the girls’ clear lack of interest. Indeed, being female appears to work to one’s advantage in Capadocia, as one of the ladies in our group managed to wangle a free can of Jupiler out of the serving staff, for reasons which were never quite made clear.

The meaty interior of my kebab, with the free can of Jupiler in the background.

All in all it was a solid, if not outstanding, performance from Capadocia Kebab. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit it again, but nor would I be disappointed if I ended up back in its orange clutches in the future. So if you are cruising down Anspach Boulevard late one night, do pop in and sample the cuisine. And see if you can get a free can of lager out of the staff as well.

So long, Capadocia. May your neon lights forever glimmer on these murky Belgian streets.

Results

Service: 2/5 (very masculine)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (meh)

Price: 2/5 (5 Euros for a dürüm? Ich bitte Sie.)

Taste: 3/5 (exquisitely meaty, if that is what you like)

Photography by Dr. Döner

Snack Istanbul – Willemsstraat, Brussels

Hello Döner Fans. Yes it is confusing, I know – I have already reviewed a Snack Istanbul in Brussels. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found that there are two of them!

Who is this second pretender to the Snack Istanbul throne?

I don’t know if they are part of a chain. They are located barely 5 minutes apart from each other, so if they are not related then I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an intense rivalry going on. Perhaps it is for this reason that neither can be found on Google Maps. Perhaps there is a court case on-going.

It was last Thursday when I first chose to grace Snack Istanbul with my custom. There had been drinks at Place du Luxembourg (where one must go drinking on a Thursday night if one is to become a success) and in the aftermath of our libations a companion and I went off in search of sweaty meat. And we found it!

As I live in the district of Saint-Josse, I have felt it necessary to scan all available kebab shops in the area. I had clocked this second Snack Istanbul days before, and once I was certain that I wasn’t tripping, I vowed to visit it with alacrity. What better chance than in a post-drinking lust for döner?

And so, in the wet, dark Brussels night, we wove our way past the concrete and glass monoliths of the European Quarter, then on into the ramshackle sprawl of Saint-Josse. And before long, there! We espied the tell-tale neon glow that betrayed the presence of a kebab shop. Döner heaven was surely mere footsteps away!

The awesome interior of Snack Istanbul.

We entered. The shop was run by two jolly, grizzled men. Their counter was overflowing with fresh salad, even at this time of night, and it brimmed with other Turkish treats that I yearned to try. But no, every place must be judged by the same standards! And so I ordered a dürüm menu for 6 Euros. In the back of my mind was the thought that at Turkuaz the same meal would have been a Euro cheaper.

Just some of the veg on offer at Snack Istanbul. Try to ignore the red cabbage.

I can’t comment much on the intervening time between ordering and eating, because nothing really happened. I took what I thought were rather artsy shots of the interior of the kebab shop, which on later viewing turned out to be rubbish. There was a decent crowd eating at Snack Istanbul, though, which is always a good sign.

An artsy shot that made the cut. It's a window, but from the INside.

We took our dürüms back home and ate them there, surrounded by home comforts. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. After a disappointing experience at Brussels’ other Snack Istanbul, my hopes had not been high. But the kebab was actually very good. It was meaty, it was moist, it had good texture, and the sauces married it all together delightfully. It will be a welcome alternative if ever I find that Turkuaz has closed early. Well done, Snack Istanbul! I hope you win in your dispute with those charlatans on Leuvensesteenweg!

The kebab is consumed back in the Dr Döner man-cave, surrounded by detritus.

Results

Service: 4/5 (jolly)

Atmosphere: 4/5 (cosy)

Price: 3/5 (a Euro more expensive than Turkuaz)

Taste: 3/5 (quite nice)

Photography by Dr. Döner

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

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

Turkuaz Kebap – Rue des Deux Églises

Bonjour et bienvenue, Döner Fans. Why the French? Well, Dr Döner has relocated to Brussels! (Or Brussel or Bruxelles, depending on which Belgian community you belong to…) Life is nothing without its variety; change is what adds spice to the floury lahmacun of existence. And so, in pursuit of new meaty horizons, Dr Döner has left the picturesque environs of Amsterdam and settled down in the Brussels neighbourhood of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, a mere drop-kick away from the European Institutions. And from this enviable vantage point I will be continuing my quest to force kebab policy up the agenda of the European Commission.

I have now been living here for almost two weeks, and the kebab-count is already high, Döner Fans. On moving to a new area, I find it advisable to go on a quick reconnoitre of the neighbourhood, to find out where the best kebabs are placed. So it was that while strolling down the Rue des Deux Églises, in the direction of Place Saint-Josse, I clocked a likely-looking establishment not far from the square. Döner Fans, I give you the great, the exceptional Turkuaz Kebap!

Turkuaz Kebap viewed from Tweekerkenstraat. Because all streets in Brussels have two names.

I was eager to pop my Brussels kebab cherry as early as possible. I had no wish to be asked “have you had a kebab in Brussels yet?” only to shake my head, blush, and say “no, not yet, I’m still working on it”. The social pressure to do so can be immense. It didn’t take long, though, before a night of fulsome Belgian beer led to that familiar kindling of the urges, and on walking home that evening I decided that yes, now was the time. Fleeing the cold, nocturnal Belgian streets, I strolled into Turkuaz, and was delighted to see a proper charcoal grill, a glistening meaty log of döner-rotisserie, and a display counter laden with köfte and other treasures. Affecting my best French, I ordered ‘un dürüm, s’il vous plait’, grabbed an ayran from the fridge, and settled down to wait.

Heavy breathing and pawing at the glass display table is normal.

The dürüm bread was first placed in the charcoal oven by one of the uniformed aficionados who manned the counter. One of them asked me which sauces I would like. I stumbled. My French no longer extended that far. I had been rumbled. Panicked, I said: ‘Chilli et…sarımsak!’ It was the Turkish word for garlic that fell out, and blew my cover. The uncertainty of my new surroundings had poked a hard finger through the wet tissue of my French, and connected with the solid bedrock of my faithful Turkish there below. From this point on, the Turkish staff of Turkuaz and I were firm friends. When it came to salad, I duly ordered ‘hepsi!’ And all seemed to be going swimmingly.

One word of warning, though. If you do visit Turkuaz and happen to go off in search of the lavatories, be warned that the ceiling on the staircase is very low. Dr Döner is no lumbering giant of a man (indeed, in Amsterdam I felt very much like a dwarf), but I managed to smack my head off the ceiling on the way down to the loos. Perhaps it was the Belgian beers. In any case, lesson learned. When I returned to the counter, my order was ready. I found also that the dürüm automatically came with a portion of Belgian frites covered in sauce. The novelty! I was also pleased to discover that in total one dürüm + one portion of frites + one ayran came to only 5 Euros. A bargain if ever I saw one, Döner Fans. Especially when you consider that one sad, soggy, disappointing döner in Amsterdam, whose sauces you have to apply yourself using one of their farting, sticky tubes, comes to 4,50 EUR all on its own. I took my meaty gains back to my penthouse apartment and consumed them there with gusto. And the verdict: delicious. The bread was fresh and had a tasty charcoal piquance, the meat was moist, and the sauces were flavourful. The salad consisted of shredded carrot, and something which was either shredded white cabbage or lettuce, which is not something I have seen before in a dürüm. In any case, it was very moist and added a satisfying counterpoint to the meat. Therefore, if you are ever in Saint-Josse, I urge you to try out Turkuaz Kebap. I am sure it will become a regular of mine!

Turkuaz kebab, with its garnish of shredded carrots and other mystery vegetables.

Results

Service: 4/5 (fast and friendly)

Atmosphere: 4/5 (bright and comfy)

Price: 4/5 (a good value deal!)

Taste: 5/5 (very nice)

Photographs taken by Dr. Döner