5 to try: Döner kebabs

Tokyo kebab stands grow ever popular, but what's on the end of that spit?

5 to try: Döner kebabs

As far as kebab wraps go, the döner is the daddy. Having originated in Turkey during the nineteenth century (the word 'döner' means 'rotating') , the basic presentation has remained largely unchanged, though adaptation can be found across Turkey's neighbouring regions (if you're ever in the Middle East, reach for a shawarma – a smaller, more compact version of the döner, heavy on the potatoes and tahini sauce). The beef, chicken or lamb are stacked high on a rotating spit so that their natural juices cascade and filter down, ending up in a heavenly, fatty pool, into which the freshly cooked meat is sliced and allowed to bathe. The meat is scooped up and usually served in a pita bread, along with freshly sliced vegetables and a choice of sauces, although — back in its home region — the döner meat is often presented, undressed, on a plate, possibly with french fries or a side salad.

The version of the döner kebab that has become popular in Japan is often, sadly, uniform. The sauces don't vary much from shop to shop, and it's unusual to find an outlet that has its own unique style. However, there are places worth a diversion if you feel the urge.

Star Kebab

Having been in Akihabara for 12 prosperous years, the men of Star Kebab have the area pretty much sewn up. And it's easy to see why. Drop by the little picnic area they've set up outside Akihabara Station (near Akihabara Electric Town exit) and grab one of their chicken kebabs, stuffed with good quality meat, plenty of cabbage, onions, and a smattering of fresh tomatoes. It's all served up in an above average pita, with a selection of great toppings (the spicy Iskender sauce is well worth a punt). They also do lamb shish kebabs, and a 'Bigboy' kebab that would probably just about hospitalise the average Akihabara office worker, such is its size. Best of all is big, friendly Oscar — a kebab man with a smile for everyone. We like.

Meat: Top notch, juicy chicken. Nothing to complain about here.

Pita: Freshly toasted pitas — go for the regular size if you don't want to bust a gut.

Vegetables: Chock full of fresh produce. Good stuff indeed.

Sauce: We liked the Iskender sauce particularly, originating from the North of Turkey, tasting great in the centre of Tokyo.

Price: 500 yen — a good price for a good lunch. Recommended.

Star Kebab map and opening times

5 to try: Döner kebabs
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Star Kebab

By Jon Wilks


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