This week I was at the German Doner Kebab outlet in Motor City with a few fellow food bloggers from Dubai. I had the opportunity to finally taste the delicacy considered the big daddy of the Arab shawarma, the Greek gyros, and the Mexican al pastor. Yes – the famous Doner Kebab!
Did you know? Did you know the word "Shawarma" is the Arabic pronunciation of the Turkish word "Çevirme" (First letter is Turkish and pronounced as "ch". Since Arabic does not have that letter, they pronounce it as "sh". Similarly, the closest pronunciation of the word Çevirme becomes Shawarma with the other Arabic letters). Çevirme is another Turkish word with a similar meaning, "to turn" symbolizing the method of cooking - meat turning slowly on the rotisserie.
A bit of Doner Kebab History
Originally a Turkish import into Germany, the Doner Kebab – named after the Turkish word “dondurmek” meaning rotating roast, has grown to capture a special place in the heart of the Germans. Considered as the number one street food in Germany, there are over 40,000 Kebab shops across the country and the 82 million strong German population are believed to consume more than 2 million kebabs a day. (As per ATDiD – the Association of Turkish Döner Producers in Europe). They say, it is almost impossible to visit Germany and not eat a Doner Kebab as today it stands as one of the prominent symbols of the cultural and economic influence of the Turkish immigration on the German society.
A bit of German Doner Kebab History
Why ‘German’ Doner Kebab, I always wondered. Speaking to Fareed Jamil – The UAE Operations Manager of GDK helped in understanding bit of their brand history. According to Fareed the first German Doner Kebab store opened in Berlin in 1989 and since then the franchise spread across Europe, UK and the Middle East.
In 2014, Doner Kebab won the MENAFA Excellence Award for The Best UAE Franchise Brand. GDK currently has 13 outlets in Dubai and planning more outlets in the coming years.
What sets the brand apart
Started with the vision to create classic, authentic and healthy kebabs, combining high quality produce with excellent customer service, the brand spent the first decade of its operation in perfecting policies, procedures and processes. Today it is a well-established and recognized brand with stores across the world known-widely for its healthy & nutritionally balanced take on traditional kebabs.
A GDK kebab is known to have less than half the calories of a regular kebab. That’s because they use only 100% lean, succulent, halal meat in their cooking. All the ingredients are of the highest quality and exclusive to the GDK restaurants. With an expertise that has been perfected over the years, GDK is able to offer its customers a nutritionally sound gourmet food experience that contains virtually no preservatives or additives. Their tried and tested methods are what sets them apart from other competitors in the business.
GDK’s regular Doner Kebab Sandwich comes with prime cuts of chicken or veal, a choice of fresh salad, and GDK signature sauces – all wrapped up inside fresh handmade bread. You have the option to choose between Chicken, Veal, Veg or Mix. Other Dubai-inspired menu options include Durum Doner wraps, Burgers, and Lahmacun – a traditional Turkish pizza topped with minced meat.
I ordered Doner Kebab Sandwich with veal, sided with potato fries and onion rings. I followed that up with the tempting Dorum Doner Wrap and washed it all down with fresh cloudy apple juice.
The Doner Kebab Sandwich (with Veal)
The Doner Kebab Sandwich came in their fresh homemade triangular bread, which is savoury, crisp, topped with sesame seeds, slightly waffled – and extremely delicious! As I gripped the pita and took my first bite, the signature sauces and yoghurt-garlic dressing oozed from the bottom. It was amazingly fresh and flavoursome, with the combination of juicy meat, sauces and crunchy salad definitely living up to the hype.
The bread was thin enough to prevent being too filling, but thick enough to hold the Doner and the tomato, lettuce, onion and red cabbage fillings in place. The amount of meat crammed into the sandwich was impressive. The meat was 100% halal and much thinner than the usual chunky strips shaved off at a local Shewarma stall. Overall the Doner was succulent, fresh and perfectly seasoned with the sauce which provided the overall depth to the well-rotisseried Veal. The fries were crunchy and crispy, cooked and served on time. I found their onion rings to be much flavorful than KFC’s.
The Dorum Doner Wrap
For those that like their food on the go, the Dorum Doner wrap is a good option. The wraps were neatly and tightly packed with the minced meat, fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, red cabbage, and their signature sauces. This was fairly easier to eat than the Doner Kebab Sandwich, in which the fillings were all falling off even before it reached the palates. This is typically my kind of wrap – neat, easy to consume on the go, filled with all the essential ingredients and juicy to the right sweet spot.
As I first stepped foot in the restaurant, the staff greeted me warmly and I found this treatment consistent throughout my visit. I guess this is one of the major factors that separates them from the average fast food brand. Service is generally one thing that is severely lacking in the Dubai fast food scene, so a brand like GDK that blurs the lines between fast food and relaxed restaurant is a breath of fresh air and a surefire hit.
The interiors are painted in striking orange and black – the brand’s official colors. This is consistent across the décor, menu cards, wet wipes, food packets and wraps. Electronic boards display the limited but interesting menu options. The rotisserie is positioned towards the right corner of the outlet, from where we watched the skilled culinary staff slicing and dicing the cone shaped meat, spinning on the rods. The salad bar is just in front of the rotisserie and transparent so you’ll clearly see the salads and their shelf life markings. There is seating both indoor and outdoor and the option to takeaway, or order via Deliveroo, Talabat, Zomato and Uber Eats.
German Doner Kebab is the perfect place to go to for an indulgent but guiltless snacking The food is consistent, fast and fresh. Value-for-money meal combos and low-carb Doner boxes are the top selling points. The customer service is also quite good compared to other fast food outlets. The decor is refreshing with a standard and vibrant orange and black theme throughout. Overall I would give this place a 4 on 5 rating for food quality, value, service and ambiance.
Disclaimer / Voluntary Disclosure
This review was sponsored by German Doner Kebab. Though the meal was complimentary, all photos, views and opinions are my own, as always. The restaurant had no influence on the content of this article, there is no form of cooperation between us, I was not obliged to publish anything, and I have not received any monetary payment in lieu of this review. All images used are courtesy of Blogliterati.com, unless stated otherwise. The images may not be reproduced without explicit permission/consent from the site owner.