Berlin's Doner Kebab!
It's time to end the suspense and finally, show you the mystery German street food we're so pleased to present to you.
I'd like to introduce you to Berlin’s Doner Kebab.
The doner kebab is the official name in Germany. Personally, I believe this is quite deceptive because it is frequently confused with donairs (which it is not) and/or kebabs (which it is definitely not). To add to the confusion, the meat is grilled on a vertical grill, which immediately conjures up images of shawarma, gyros, or tacos – none of which it is.
So ignore the name and don't bother attempting to compare it to anything because I guarantee it will be unlike anything you've ever eaten. So, unless you've tried it for yourself, keep an open mind. Meanwhile, why not make everyone's lives easy by calling it a sandwich? After all, that's what it is: bread loaded with meat, vegetables, and sauce. It's just that it's the best sandwich ever.
The figures speak for themselves: Germans devour 2 million doners per day. It's a $4 billion market in Germany alone, with over 40,000 doner shops.
What amazes me is how they were able to keep this secret from us for so long! They eat it for lunch, supper, and, perhaps most importantly, late at night. It's been a mainstay of the German diet for decades, but most of us have never heard of it...
Are you hungry yet?
So, what exactly is Berlin’s Doner Kebab? Allow me to analyse it for you piece by piece.
The meat: The classic doner is made with beef (or a combo thereof). It is ground extremely fine and carefully seasoned before being roasted on a vertical spit until perfectly caramelised and sliced paper thin, giving it a texture and flavour unlike any other. There's also a chicken alternative with an extremely wonderful marinade. We are also developing a vegetarian variant. The flesh is significantly more succulent than other vertically grilled meats, which is one of the key differences.
The loaf of bread: This triangular flatbread/panini hybrid is the bread. It's light but strong. Crispy but chewy. To finish it off, a little sesame sprinkle. It's a golden-baked stunner.
The vegetables: This is what distinguishes it as the most refreshing sandwich. It's piled high with crisp lettuce, lightly marinated (not pickled!) cabbage, thinly sliced onions for a little zing, and fresh tomatoes. This wonderfully complements the richness of the meat while also increasing the nutritional value of the sandwich by providing a complete serving of vegetables.
The condiment: The secret ingredient. I honestly don't have anything else to say. But I can tell you that you'll have a choice between a lovely creamy herb and a hot kick in the ass. Some people choose both. I don't pass judgement. Over here, it's all about love.
There is also the option of having it in salad shape for those who prefer a lighter open or are on a keto diet.
The best part is that it is far healthier than other fast food selections. This, in my opinion, is a large part of what makes this the ultimate street meal: it provides the delight of comfort food without the guilt — or the gut. And thank goodness, because when I can, I eat it every day.
Now, a word of caution: it's addictive. As an example, I'm infatuated with it. You most likely will be as well. It's just one of those foods that makes you crave it. And the cravings are genuine. The good news is that Doner Cave will be there to help satisfy those desires – without requiring an 8-hour flight, as I've had to do for the past few years. You're really welcome.
Now, I hate overselling anything, and I realise that's what this sounds like, but I can't stop myself because Berlin’s Doner Kebab is simply that fantastic. But I'll leave it at that and let it speak for itself. You're correct to be sceptical. Just be prepared to be wrong, as I was.