My favorite food in the world were the donor kebabs I would buy when I was in Brisbane, Australia. I used to go to a particular shop that made them perfectly, and often when other stores tried the kebab would explode in an epic display of failure. Lamb or beef and chicken, tomato, lettuce, onion, pineapple, mushrooms, jalapeños and olives with hot chili sauce and sour cream wrapped in a thing stretchy kind of pita bread. Delicious. No tabbouleh though…that stuff is nasty.
That is more or less the style of kebabs in Australia, or at least Sydney and Brisbane. A lot of different toppings and sauces, wrapped in pita bread like a wrap. While traveling the world I often searched for a kebab that was similar and have always come up empty handed. All the kebabs across Europe seem to be just basic Turkish kebabs…, meat in a flap of bread, sometimes thin or thick and crunchy, with very basic toppings such as tomato and lettuces with the only sauces being chili or garlic. They just aren’t the same, and they can be a whole lot messier to eat. Even in NYC where you can find pretty much any food you could imagine, I was unable to find Australian style kebabs. I tried the kebabs in Germany, both in traditional and wrap style and while tasty, they still didn’t compare. Given the lack of variety in take away food, they can become downright bland after a while. I’ve tried Gyro’s a few times which can be tasty, but they are definitely a separate dish.
I never understood why it was so difficult to find a donor kebab in a wrap with the choice of more than two toppings or sauces. The delicious thin stretchy bread is nice, but not necessary. Just to have some pineapples and olives on my kebab and not have to take care to hold it would be ideal. I thought searching for such a thing was a lost cause, until recently. I arrived in Vancouver a few days ago, and was very pleased to hear that the kebabs here are similar to the ones in Australia. The kebabs here are definitely the closest I have found, but just not the same.
All the toppings I listed above are available but the sauces still seem limited to garlic and chili. At the one store I went to toppings come in at I think 75c per topping, and combining meats adds an extra dollar or two. The kebab I described above would end up at about $12 CAD, compared to just under $8 AUD. The other thing is the bread just isn’t the same. It’s a standard puffy pita pocket. It holds everything together well enough unlike the kebabs in Europe, but it seems a lot more squashed in. Like the kebabs in elsewhere, a significant portion of inside the pita seems to be lettuce. One of my favorite things about the kebabs in Australia was that it was mostly meat inside.
I haven’t had a kebab even close to my favorite in quite a few years, so this was definitely a nice thing to find out. I’ve only been to one kebab shop so far, so with a bit of exploring I might be able to find one more reasonably priced and with different bread and sauces. I’ll keep looking until I find someone who make a kebab like the best in the world – at least now it seems like I have a good chance.