Bonjour, Döner Fans. Confusing as it seems, this blog post is brought to you from Amsterdam, not Brussels. Yes, last weekend I was back in the Dutch capital for both business and pleasure. I met some of my favourite people (plus a few extra), though the brevity of my trip meant that many old friends had to be left out. But I will be back again soon!
Anyway, a triumphal return without a kebab is like a morning without a dawn: barren. Many of you will know how I feel about Dutch kebabs. But on Saturday night on Rembrandt Square I was in for a pleasant surprise. A companion and I were squeezing our way through the heaving crowd of stoned tourists and drunk people in Halloween costumes, when my eyes were drawn to a gleaming sign. It said, in tasteful neon: “Istanbul Döner-Kebab Halal Food Shoarma-Falafel.” So all its focus-keywords were nicely covered.
Hypnotised by this feat of food-Tourette’s, I shakily drew forth my photography device and took a shot. And as I did so, a man who was leaning outside the shop immediately invited us in, his face aglow with welcoming delight. I had thought he was a customer happily digesting his food. But no, he was the welcome committee. I am always suspicious of shops and restaurants that employ someone to lure in passers-by. But we were hungry, so we went in anyway.
The staff were clearly used to drunk tourists, and immediately tried to offer us everything on the menu, including a ‘crisp clean Heineken’ each. But I have tried Heineken before, so I said no. My dinner companion and I both ordered the Dürüm Döner, and they set about making it. As this was Amsterdam, there were only two sauce choices: samba and garlic. Salad was ‘alles erop’. There was something comforting in this bland predictability. If nothing else, it saved me having to order in French and embarrass myself.
The kebab was actually surprisingly good. I don’t know if it was just because I was very hungry, but something about it made it a lot tastier than the usual disappointing fare you tend to get in Amsterdam’s kebab joints. The meat was moist, the salad was fresh, the bread was nice, and the sauces were flavourful. As such, it is one of the few döner shops in Amsterdam that I can heartily recommend. Just try not to be talked into buying everything on the menu along with copious drinks, as the service did come across as slightly pushy.
I am pretty sure that the dürüm was meant to cost 4,95 EUR. However, when I handed over a 5 EUR note, there was no sign of my 5 cents change. I let it slide this time. I wished the proprietors ‘iyi akşamlar’ and we went back out into the Halloween-infested night. They called out ‘iyi akşamlar’ after us, despite probably not being Turks. But that is no doubt part of the mystery and delight at Istanbul Plaza.
Service: 2/5 (geared towards people who are drunk and/or stoned)
Atmosphere: 3/5 (meh)
Price: 3/5 (normal for Amsterdam, but don’t expect to get your 5 cents change)
Taste: 4/5 (very tasty)
Photographs taken by Dr. Döner