All that is wrong with the world…

October 13, 2010

The best kebabs in the world

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:36 pm

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.


  1. I lived in Australia for a time too and miss their kebabs! Here in Singapore, you can find them in Clarke Quay, near the cab stand – opposite a club called Ruby something. Anyway, just wanted to tell you that what we call kebabs in Australia IS the same as the US Gyros! It’s the same – the stretchy pita, not the pocket pita, with meat off the doner.

    Comment by Jasmine — April 7, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    • Hey Jasmine,

      Thanks for your reply 🙂

      I’ve travelled around the states quite a bit, and never seen anything the same as the kebabs in Australia.

      The Gyros in Adelaide (which they too have in place of kebabs) were similar in that you could sometimes have more toppings, but the bread was still a lot thicker and not like a wrap at all.

      The Gyros I had in Athens were the same, with even less choice in toppings.

      I’ve truly never come across anything close enough to the kebabs I enjoyed in Brisbane…the option of multiple meats and the choice from over 15 toppings and maybe 10 sauces. All stacked and folded in a certain way that you could easily grab it with both hands and eat it easily without making a mess.

      I haven’t been to Singapore, so will look for them if I ever go there.

      At the moment though, the kebabs in Brisbane are truly the thing I miss most about Australia.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — April 10, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

  2. I too share your pain. In 2008 my wife and two friends ate Kebabs from Cairns to Melbourne. We actually had our first feast of this mystical fare in Auckland on a two night layover. My friend spoke of your Kebabs the same as you; he had been to Australia before. The first meal of our trip was a quest to find a Kebab. Less than two minutes from our hostel, one turn around the corner there it was. A hole in the wall with only sidewalk seating. Their display of toppings was exactly as you speak. Fresh veggies sliced perfectly and placed on display. A bright array of colors of all that is great. The number of sauces I knew was dwarfed by the names of the ones I did not. Heeding the direction from my friend not to put on too many toppings; I began to conduct the creation of my first Kebab. Just pointing at what I wanted through the glass. Topping it off with the sweet chili, garlic mayo, and spicy sauces. Then I watched as they ever so graciously folded my Kebob and then kissed the outsides on the grill ever so gently. I unknowingly creating what would begin a fixation that I carry with me today. I took my first bite. From that point on I know our travels would include a quest Kebabs. Are first day in Cairns to our good fortune there was another Kebob pusher two doors from our hostel. It was if the Auckland Kebab hawker teleported to Cairns. The bright colors, many sauces and tasty doner or chicken. Three days, two nights in Cairns. Horseback riding, scuba diving, and eating Kebabs every day. Magical! We continued down the coast searching for purveyors of this supernatural meal. We found most new the top secret technique of cutting the mouth watering meat from the machine, arranging the toppings perfectly, and then squirting on your favorite sauces. We delighted in the comfort knowing that there was always a Kebab supplier to be found. Only a few times did we come across an outcast that tried to be different. How could they sabotage perfectly cooked meat by grilling it again? “Only to crisp it up” they say. What they were doing was stealing the succulent juices. I only allowed this to happen once again. After that, I adjusted my orchestration to make sure this travesty would never happen again. In our Subaru Outback I had become the new Kebab authority. Back home for these many years. I see the letters K.E.B.A.B on store fronts and I get anxious, but then I remember. Just another Greek style Kebab. Later that year I was excited beyond belief on a trip to Ireland; to hear there was a Kebab merchant in town. My wife wished me luck and kissed me before I left to bring back our lost love. Only to be disappointed as soon as I walked thought the door. No display of colors to choose from, no plethora of sauces. You also cannot create a masterpiece if you’re slinging burgers and fried chicken from the same counter. I’ve accepted that we will not find our fixation on the Best Kebab’s in the World at home. We must travel again. My wife and I agree that we want to go back to Australia, and Kebab’s may just be the number one reason.

    Comment by Dalpy — July 22, 2011 @ 6:06 am

    • Hi Dalpy, glad to hear someone likes those kebabs as much as I. If not, a very entertaining read 🙂

      Comment by allthatiswrong — July 24, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  3. @ threadstarter..

    beef, chicken and sometimes lamb, tomato, lettuce, onion, bbq sauce, hot chili sauce, garlic sauce, tomato sauce, hommus, cheese, tabouleh – These are your standard toopings available at any kebab shop in Sydney..

    Have lived here all my life and weve never heard of a kebab with pineapple, mushrooms, jalapeños or olives…

    Comment by Sydney Kebabs — January 21, 2012 @ 6:51 am

  4. The kebab you described is very Australian and not at all traditional, and mostly this sort of kebab could only be found in Brisbane, Australia (and is mainly toasted). I’ve owned kebab stores in both Brisbane and Melbourne, and can tell you Melbournians prefer less topping sauces, but on the other hand the Brisbane crowed are more prone to mixing traditional Turkish kebab meat wrapped in flat oval bread (Lebanese bread) with a variety of sauces (sweet chilli, chilli, tomato, humus, tahini, BBQ, sourcream) and extra salad toppings (Pineapple, mushroom, jalipinos, olives, tabuli). So the kebab your after is most definitely a Queenslanders Kebab!

    Comment by Ecem — December 4, 2013 @ 7:20 am

    • Ahh, that’s interesting to know, thank you! I’d gotten Similar kebabs in Sydney and Adelaide, but they were not as prevalent. Why it it such a mix in

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 3, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    • I too have tried those kebabs and cant find anything like it here at home, I would love to startup a little kebab shop on my own. I’m sure there will be a market. I’d love to take some advise or information on the details of it and getting one started. I’d appreciate any help or advice from you considering that you owned a few stores, if your willing to help me.

      Comment by Azgar — November 7, 2016 @ 5:20 am

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