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

Efem Delflandplein

The following is a post from October 2015 which, alas, I have only now got around to posting.

Greetings Döner Fans. If you’ve ever been to Delflandplein, after exhausting the delights of Albert Heijn and Lidl, you will no doubt have felt a little peckish and started looking around for something saucy to eat. And to your unmitigated delight, there on a corner of the square, you would no doubt spot the red neon sign of Efem Pizza en Döner, an establishment that does what it says. This, at least, has been my experience. Thus it was that on an unusually bright Sunday in October (i.e. today) I found myself drawn into the welcoming clutches of Delflandplein’s biggest culinary attraction.

What was Dr Döner doing on Delflandplein, I hear you ask? Well, things are in a continuous state of flux, and for one reason or another I am currently lodging at one of Amsterdam’s more affordable hotels, which finds itself a mere stone’s throw away from the famous square. Having nothing to do this Sunday other than drift between cafes and sniff out kebabs, I recalled having seen the lights of Efem glowing eerily the previous evening when I had been gathering my purchases at the nearby Albert Heijn. True, but not interesting. So today I went for lunch, forgetting that the clocks had gone back an hour during the night, with the result that it was only about 11am when I entered Efem and ordered a Broodje Döner and a Coke. Never mind. Anyway, the man behind the counter gave me a rather shifty grin as I placed my order, and asked me for 5 Euros for the whole meal. He then piled on the kebab meat, slathered on the sauces, and garnished it all with some diced tomato and cucumber, and a sprinkling of red onion. Red onion is always a good sign, Döner Fans. However, he did all this with a rather unpleasant sideways sneer towards me, which made me feel that I was in some way being royally shafted. I took my döner and coke over to a table and ate it, while the latest Turkish pop hits trilled in the background.

Note the red onion, Döner Fans. Red onion is a mark of class.

The döner was actually surprisingly good. For all that it was sandwiched within a rather plain bun, the meat was flavourful and the salad was fresh. The red onions certainly made a difference. The interior seemed fairly clean, despite a few rough-looking customers who eyed me over the top of their kebabs, and on glancing over at the counter I saw that the place also served more traditional Turkish fare such as Adana kebabs, lahmacun, and mercimek soup. All in all it was quite a pleasant meal. It was only when I left the shop and stepped back out onto Delflandplein that I noticed the sign outside the entrance which declared that, as a special Combi-Deal, a broodje döner and a coke cost only a mere 4,75. It was with mounting horror that I realised I had been screwed out of 25 cents. The infamy! No wonder the man had grinned at me, knowing that today he would be 25 cents the richer. No matter how good the kebab, this grim realisation left a bad taste in my mouth. No doubt I could have bartered him down. But it was too late now. Disgruntled, I stalked off into the depths of the Hoofddorppleinbuurt in the hope that a few strong coffees would allay my distress. Until next time, Döner Fans! Stay safe!

Photographic evidence which I will be using to press my case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Results

Service: 3/5 (performed with a sneer)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (clean and relaxed)

Price: 2/5 (twenty-five cents too many)

Taste: 4/5 (quite nice)

Photography provided by Dr. Döner

Lunchroom Etenstijd Nieuwe Vijzelstraat

Hello Döner Fans. Apologies for the despondent tone of my previous post. With any luck, things will be looking up soon. For instance, I find that eating a döner always helps. Unless, that is, the döner is bad. Today as I left my office after a hard day of kebab journalism, I strolled down the bustling thoroughfare that is Vijzelstraat, which runs from Muntplein down to Weteringcircuit. For those of you who aren’t au fait with Amsterdam’s geography, and who can recollect it only through a haze of brown smoke and red lights, the Weteringcircuit lies at a spitting distance from the Heineken Experience – which, I am told, is only an ‘experience’ in the same way that a colonoscopy is an experience. It was right at this bottom end of the Nieuwe Vijzelstraat that I espied something calling itself Lunchroom Etenstijd. This would seem to translate as Lunch Room Food Time (we all know Lunchroom should be two words). Which goes to show you that you can achieve a suitable name for a kebab shop without much thought, simply by shoving a bunch of semi-related nouns together.

Lunchroom Etenstijd proclaims its lack of imagination to the world.

Those of you who have been following the blog over the past months and years will know that I have not been overly impressed by Amsterdam’s assortment of kebab outlets. Therefore it was with no great expectation that I strode into the orange interior of the Lunchroom and ordered a Broodje Döner. ‘Alles erop?’ replied the man. ‘Ja,’ I said. And then I went to sit outside and wait for it to be brought to me. (These details are all true.) Anyway, I sat outside and he brought me the kebab on a plate with a fork, as well as two tubes of sauce, one creamy and one spicy, presumably because he’d forgotten to ask me what sauces I wanted. I suppose it showed a degree of trust on his part that I wouldn’t run off with his tubes (and I admit I was tempted). The plate was too small for the kebab on it, with the result that some of the meat fell off onto the table and went uneaten. I should make clear that this was the fault of the plate, and not due to my piggish eating habits.

The kebab writhes on its plate, while two tubes of sauce loom behind it.

The kebab was passable, I suppose, and by no means bad by Amsterdam standards. I chomped it down while watching the trams and then went inside to pay. The price for a Broodje Döner was 3,95 as clearly shown on the wall behind the counter; however, the serving man asked for 4 Euros. Being polite, I didn’t quibble. But I did hope that the 5 cents he screwed me out of would one day weigh heavily on his conscience. For 4 Euros, it was not the best kebab in the world. But then, I had not anticipated great things. Anyway, having satisfied my post-work hunger, I left the Lunchroom Etenstijd in no great hurry to return. The only thing that might draw me back to the Lunchroom is its propinquity to my work, meaning that it may manage to lure me in again in the future. We shall see. That’s all for now, Döner Fans! Enjoy your weekend!

Man overboard! Some excess meat went over the side.

Results

Service: 3/5 (fine)

Atmosphere: 2/5 (plasticky)

Price: 1/5 (I was robbed of 5 cents)

Taste: 2/5 (not the best)

Photography provided by Dr. Döner

Caland Döner and Snacks, Pieter Calandlaan

Hello Döner Fans. Please excuse the bitter tone of this post. Dr Döner is navigating one of those troughs in life which lend the human experience such spice. To put it another way, Dr Döner currently has no fixed address! Nothing gives you a better feel for a city’s myriad districts than tramping about it going to dismal flat viewings. And so, on his exciting quest to find an abode, Dr Döner has been tearing Amsterdam a new one while maxing out his public transport OV-Chipcard. That, I hope, explains why, yesterday evening, I was to be found lurking about near Amsterdam Lelylaan train station, trying to find an obscure address. I will not go into details, but the flat viewing did not work out. So it was that after disengaging myself I went out in search of a hearty dose of fat, calories and protein to get me back up on my perch. To my delight I happened upon: Caland Döner and Snacks!

A surreptitious shot of Caland Döner and Snacks which Dr Döner pap'ed from behind the safety of a tree.

This particular kebab emporium is called Caland Döner and Snacks presumably because it faces onto Pieter Calandlaan – but also, as the sharp-eyed among you might see from the photograph, onto Jan Smitstraat. Seemingly Pieter Caland trumps Jan Smit in this neck of the woods. Anyway…I went inside and ordered a Broodje Döner with all the salads and sauces (they only had creamy and spicy anyway). I was pleased to see that the döner meat was actually on display in this shop, as it rotated seductively against its rotisserie grill – something of a rarity in many Amsterdam establishments. However, the meat I received did not come from the rotating log, but rather from a container somewhere out of view. Nonetheless, I still ate it.

Saucy meat, fresh from 'the container'.

Exhausted as I was, the kebab was actually quite palatable. It was spicy and creamy in the right places, and the bread felt surprisingly fresh. I had paid a princely 4 Euros for it; however, a 4-euro-kebab it was not. Especially when places like Bakkerij Kara Fırın will make you a delicious dürüm for only 3,50 euros. Anyway, thus fortified, I went back out into the mean streets of Lelylaan and made a brisk exit via the metro (which was delayed). And so, Döner Fans, that is how Dr Döner disappeared once more into the moist clutches of the Dutch night, doomed to prowl the streets alone once more in search of accommodation. A shadow in the gloaming; a diamond in the rough. Until next time, take care of yourselves Döner Fans!

A close-up shot taken after working out how to use the zoom.

Results

Service: 3/5 (fine)

Atmosphere: 2/5 (nope)

Price: 2/5 (too expensive)

Taste: 3/5 (fine)

Photography provided by Dr. Döner.

Döner Box Weißenseer Weg

Night-time kebab

Greetings, Döner Fans! Dr Döner has wasted no time in sampling new and evermore far-flung kebab haunts on his August 2015 tour of Berlin. The other night saw a nocturnal outing to the Döner Box on the corner of Hohenschönhauser Straße and Weißenseer Weg. If you know your Berlin geography, then you’ll know that that’s well outside the Ring! Just what was Dr Döner doing out in this wasteland of civilization? Well let me elucidate. Some friends and I had headed out to this peaceful corner of the city to do the Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss brewery tour. And we were eager to learn new things.

The tour was a jolly event. We were whisked round the brewery by a chummy German chap – let’s call him Hans. Hans was very keen on numbers and figures, and delighted in telling us precisely how many litres of beer were in each cask, lorry and storage drum. He laughed a lot, and it was not always clear why. At one point he invited us to guess how many litres of beer were in one of the drums. ’70 thousand litres?’ suggested an English guy on the tour. But at this, Hans seemed to sour. ‘Oh,’ said Hans, ‘you think you’re pretty clever do you? You have done the calculations, have you?’ ‘It was just a guess,’ mumbled the English guy. ‘Well you were wrong. It holds 540 thousand litres,’ said Hans, almost with a sneer. When at one point we passed an overflowing bucket of foam, whose contents were beginning to trickle out into the carpark, Hans said that he had never seen that happen before, and asked us not to take pictures of it. I’m sure it’s all been cleared away now.

The tour concluded with beer-tasting and schnitzel in the brewery restaurant. We were allowed to have as much beer as we could stomach in two hours, fresh from the brewery’s taps. It was a convivial occasion. Hans toured the restaurant, cheerfully handing out new beers and making humorous observations. At 9:30pm the restaurant closed and we stumbled out into the sultry summer night.

But wait, what's this? A new super offer?

It was while looking for a tram that we espied the lambent glow of the Döner Box on a street corner. Its only customers that night appeared to be a man and a dog. There was really no need to eat a döner. We had just had schnitzel. But something about the big sign saying NEU SUPER ANGEBOT was just too hard to resist. With the tram coming in 4 minutes, it was a race against time to purchase a chicken gemüsedöner without missing our ride. Thankfully, the man inside the Döner Box was a paragon of efficiency. Rarely has a döner been made so fast! Chicken, salad, spicy sauce, garlic sauce – all were slapped into a wedge of bread in double-quick time. And all for the NEU SUPER ANGEBOT price of 2,50.

A man and his dog: customers of the Döner Box.

We ate it on the tram. I’m not sure if this is allowed. We tried not to make a mess. The döner itself was very passable. A rogue piece of red cabbage had strayed into my salad, but I overlooked it as it did not impair the flavours. It was a standard Berlin chicken döner and is surely a welcome treat to anyone waiting at Weißenseer Weg for a tram back to the city. I suspect Hans visits it with some frequency. In any case, I would urge readers to head out there quickly and try it before the NEU SUPER ANGEBOT ends, since there was no indication of how long this spectacular and vague offer would last. Enjoy!

A piece of red cabbage. It seemed like a bigger deal at the time. Perhaps you had to be there.

Results

Service: 4/5 (lightning speed)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (fine)

Price: 4/5 (NEU SUPER ANGEBOT)

Taste: 3/5 (average)

Photographs by Dr. Döner and Ms. S. Clarke

Imbiss Balli, U-Bhf Leinestraße

Balli kebab. A gorgeous sight.

What’s this? Dr Döner has been back to Berlin again? Is he not burnt-out by this high-octane lifestyle? Well, Döner Fans, the fast lane is where Dr Döner can be found, and so it was that with nary a care I boarded the Deutsche Bahn Intercity on a wet morning in Amsterdam and shot over to Berlin in a matter of stress-free hours. Or at least, that was the plan. Life, as you may know, is nothing if not consistent, and the so-called direct train turned into four trains, and a two-hour delay. What! This isn’t the glamorous jet-setting life of Europe’s most in-demand kebab reviewer! Perhaps not. But all things have an upside if you look really hard at them, and I suppose these detours gave me a chance to hang out for a bit in the transport hub that is Bad Bentheim, and use the high-tech toilets at Deventer train station, which I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy. Never heard of these places? Neither had I! And so, with furious strokes of my pen, I filled out another Deutsche Bahn Fahrgastrechte-Formular to claim my measly compensation.

Ja ja, Deutsche Bahn...

But enough of my petty grumbling! That, surely, is not what you tuned in for. Let me begin my tale on the evening of Saturday 25th April, when I finally disembarked in the warm evening glow of Berlin Hauptbahnhof station. My ultimate destination? U-Bhf Leinestraße, in the vicinity of which lay a housewarming party with my name on it. For who, Döner Fans, who would not wish for their humble home to be festively broken in by none other than Dr Döner himself? It is a rare honour indeed. In any case, the way there was long, and while changing trains at Alexanderplatz, I stopped for twenty minutes in the underpass to visit an old friend. Yes, you may remember the inaugural kebab of this very blog, almost three years ago. From that same vendor I purchased a splendid döner, and munched it with gusto at one of the high tables nearby, watching the flow of human traffic as the Berliners went about their Saturday evening business. It was a fine kebab, a delightful kebab. A definite 5/5 for taste on this occasion. However, that is not the kebab I wish to tell you about, Döner Fans. No, let us move on…

Blast from the past. How youthful we all once were...

I shall skip the details of the housewarming party. Suffice to say, the flat was well and truly ‘eingeweiht’. Anyway, once the fumes had cleared the next day, myself and one of the other survivors felt in need of sustenance, and so we took ourselves out into the mean streets of Neukölln in search of kebab. The owner of the newly-christened flat (in whose company I found myself) suggested trying Balli, the döner snack place right next to Leinestraße U-Bahn station, so there the two of us went. It was a grey, muggy day as we approached the counter, and the two gentlemen inside the hut seemed vaguely annoyed at having been disturbed. They slapped closed their magazines and leant out over the counter to take our orders.

All the best kebab shops have their own bus stop.

I placed my classic order, namely a döner with garlic and chilli sauce, and all the salad apart from the red cabbage. It was duly slapped up and handed over. There was no banter, no cheery wink. It was a business transaction, pure and simple. The two of us then went back to the flat and ate our kebabs on the balcony overlooking the street, where the lingering odours of the party were less pungent. All in all, it was quite a pleasant kebab, and the fresh air and leafy surroundings made it all the better. The meat was not the juiciest, but it was a solid standard döner, such as one might demand and expect from a place like Balli. The veg was fresh, and the bread was soft on the inside, and crusty on the outside. It was a marked improvement on Amsterdam’s Eetsalon De Mol.

A tasty döner from Balli, consumed on a leafy Neukölln balcony.

The rest of my visit proceeded in a similarly pleasant vein. Over the following two evenings I took the time to revisit some old classics in my favourite Berlin hotspots, making sure to eat the Mercimek soup at Wedding’s Dedecan restaurant. I was pleased to see the same grumpy gent working there as before, casting his cynical gaze over the bustle of Luxemburger Straße from behind his döner-hatch. He had the grim, set jaw of a man who had seen the troubles of the world, who would never smile in your face, but who would volunteer tirelessly and uncomplainingly at a soup-kitchen by night, while working overtime at the kebab shop to support his family. His look of contempt as he made me my Mercimek Çorbası belied his heart of gold.

Results for Balli

Service: 3/5 (unenthused)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (standard)

Price: 3/5 (standard)

Taste: 4/5 (tasty)

Post Scriptum. Alas, all good things come to an end. As I mooched around at Hauptbahnhof two days later, waiting for my train home to Amsterdam, I was to be the victim of a final parting shot from Deutsche Bahn. I will refrain from too much detail, but I went to visit the facilities at the grand-sounding ‘WC-Center’, where I was charged a 1 EURO fee for the privilege. A whole Euro! But all was not as it seemed. Upon ramming my filthiest Euro with bad grace into the machine, I was rewarded with a 50 cent coupon, redeemable upon my next visit. Thank you, Deutsche Bahn! Now I have a reason to come back and visit the WC-Center again. Rest assured, I will make it worth my while.

The WC voucher. Showing the exact date and time of the visit, presumably so that one can reminisce.

Photographs courtesy of Dr Döner and Mr B. Lawson.

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

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.

The Döner Company, Rotterdam Centraal

Dr Döner has been in crisis, Döner Fans. He has not had enough döner in his system. Various things have come between him and the hot, meaty snack that we all know and love. One problem is that Amsterdam does not have as many kebab shops as Berlin, and one must sometimes go out of one’s way to find a suitable purveyor. Thus it was that Dr Döner found some kebab in Rotterdam Centraal train station while waiting for a connection.

The seedy glare of "the doner company" viewed from the station concourse

What was Dr Döner doing in Rotterdam, I hear you ask? Well I don’t like to brag, but I had been returning to Amsterdam from Brussels after a high-octane business trip to the European Commission. I had been trying to force döner up their agenda. Anyway, travel was interrupted in Rotterdam and my travelling companions and I took the opportunity to procure a quick and dirty snack. Our eyes were drawn to the eerie glow and wafting odours of The Döner Company, and we hurled ourselves into its meaty embrace. I myself ordered a Large Döner with chilli and garlic sauce, making sure to refuse the red cabbage which inexplicably was offered as part of the salad. Only a charlatan eats red cabbage, Döner Fans! Also, a large jalapeno was slapped into the midst of my kebab – something that would never happen in Berlin, but which I deigned to try nonetheless, since one must always be open to new culinary experiences.

Grease oozes into the paper as the kebab disgorges its prized juices

We hurried to the train and consumed our kebabs noisily in the quiet coach, much to the displeasure of our fellow passengers. The döner meat was succulent and moist with a good flavour and the salad and jalapeno complemented it nicely. The chilli and garlic sauce were flavourful, but somewhat parsimoniously applied, leading to one or two complaints that the overall kebab was a little dry. However, perhaps due to the fact that I had been deprived of the ‘meaty mistress’ for so long, I have to say that the sudden reintroduction of döner into my system left me riding a döner-high for some time after I had finished it. Yes, Dr Döner enjoyed his purchase and is hungry for more! Watch out for more reports of the underground Dutch kebab scene coming soon. The kebab shops of Amsterdam will be sought out with renewed vigour, and their wares consumed with febrile gusto. Dr Döner is coming to a kebab shop near you!

Results

Service: 4/5 (mistaking me for a German, the cheerful vendor engaged me in some jolly banter while crafting my kebab)

Atmosphere: 3/5 (a bit glaring and plasticky)

Price: 3/5 (more expensive than Berlin, but standard for the Netherlands)

Taste: 4/5 (very tasty)

Photography courtesy of Ms. D. Vasilj

Efi’s Deli Kottbusser Tor

Hello Döner Fans. As we all know, company parties are an opportunity to break down social barriers and swim out into the open waters of the ill-thought-out remark and the ill-advised lock-in. Often they are events on which one reflects with a mixture of horror and confusion. A few months ago, Dr Döner found himself attending just such an event. It was a warm April night. Things had been going well at the party, although the buffet had been eaten up and tummies were a-rumbling. Requests for more food were being voiced. It seemed that if sustenance was not forthcoming then the night would soon be taking a downward turn. But it was then that one colleague reported seeing a newly-opened kebab joint just up at Kottbusser Tor! As döner aficionados it behoved us to sample its wares. Leaving the battered remains of our company premises behind us, we set off for… Efi’s Deli!

Efi's Deli, viewed from the bike rack

Efi’s Deli is conveniently located right next to Kaisers at Skalitzer Straße 136, allowing swift access when disembarking the U-Bahn in urgent need of a kebab. You might ask yourself why the authorities approved the opening of Efi’s Deli at that precise location. Kottbusser Tor needs another kebab joint like you or I need a third nipple. Anyway, we were in no mood to quibble and couldn’t resist the brand new neon sign nor the generous opening discount of 2,50€ a döner. We gladly huddled inside and placed our orders, and I myself asked for a döner. The staff seemed to be employing some new-fangled ordering system involving numbers and tickets, much like you will find at the Bürgeramt, though they were much friendlier than the people you will usually find inhabiting the Bürgeramt. We sat down to enjoy our meals.

Red onion is always a sign of a classy kebab

A nice thing about Efi’s Deli is the freshness of their salad: I was delighted at the crispness of the cucumber and romaine lettuce that straddled my kebab meat. The sauces too were juicy and flavoursome and the meat was tender on the tongue. With a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, it was truly a fine meal. The interior of the restaurant was somewhat bare but very clean and had a sort of concrete charm about it, which is nicer than the sticky plastic vibe that you get in some döner shops. The seating was comfortable, and with the generous opening prices, I would say it was well worth a visit. Well done, Efi! Dr Döner will be back!

The dregs of the company party, placing their orders

Results

Service: 4/5 (friendly)

Atmosphere: 4/5 (quite pleasant for sitting)

Price: 5/5 (cheap opening offer, though this will not last)

Taste: 4/5 (very nice)

Photography courtesy of Ms. S. Clarke