April 26, 2010 – The Only Doner Kebab In Los Angeles

26 Apr

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9:30 am

1 coffee cake

1 cup of coffee

3 pm

Chick-Fil-a

1 chicken sandwich

6 chicken nuggets

medium waffle fries

medium Diet Dr. Pepper

I’ve been to Chick-Fil-a a couple of times already over the past few months. My friends Ryan, Adam and Sam on the other hand, haven’t been to one in years. This explains why Ryan and Adam ate two chicken sandwiches, and followed that up with a side of nuggets and waffle fries. “You never know when you’re going to eat this again,” Ryan said. And by the way he ate today, he’s right, because he drastically reduced his life expectancy with this meal. We were reminded of Warren Zevon’s quote to “enjoy every sandwich.” Ryan and Adam decided to eat as many sandwiches as they could enjoy. Can’t argue with that, I guess. I’ll just have to see if I outlive them.

8 pm

Spitz

doner kebab

side of fries

medium Diet Coke

When I spent a week in Berlin, I ate a doner kebab every day for lunch. It’s not that these Turkish-influenced sandwiches are great or anything. But they’re cheap, usually costing between 3 and 5 euros, they’re literally sold on every single block in Berlin, and they’re filling without ruining your digestive system like currywurst. By eating a doner kebab every day, I had enough euros to splurge on dinner and especially on beer. Sometimes I ate it twice daily, once for lunch and again after a late night of drinking. There was a doner kebab place next to the music club Kaffee Burger in Mitte that I went to three times over two days. They were conveniently open late amongst several bars and there was no better way to soak up beer. The long line even at 3 am testified to that fact.

The doner kebab is probably the defining food of Berlin at the moment, even though it’s a relatively new creation from Berlin’s sizable Turkish community that’s Germans are sometimes ambivalent about. The sandwich isn’t too different from a gyros or shawerma, but the doner kebab was the one thing I craved when I came back home. While Berlin has a doner kebab place on every corner, Los Angeles only has one that I’m aware of, Spitz in downtown (that’s the second location. The original is in Pasadena). Thanks to a $20 gift certificate from my friend Ella, I got a chance to see if they could provide a decent memento of Berlin. Right off the bat, I noticed that Spitz’ sandwiches are smaller. The amount of ingredients is probably the same, but they wound their sandwiches up tightly into a dense log, so it’s neater than the ones that inevitably fall apart onto the streets of Berlin. Spitz also uses lavash instead of a pita. The garlic aioli is very bland, but that’s how it is in Germany too. I wish Spitz had hot sauces more readily available like they do in Germany, but they did provided a container of Tapatio after asking and it helped. My meat sandwich was inevitably made with gyros meat, but that’s not too different from what you can get in Berlin. Honestly, a doner kebab isn’t exactly a work of art, and it pales in comparison to Zankou or Falafel Arax. But Spitz is the closest approximation to a doner kebab in LA, and that’s reason enough for me to go again eventually. It’s cheaper than a plane ticket to Berlin.

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