“I’ll be honest with you,” says Fatih Demir, son of the owner of the best Turkish kebab in Stoke Newington, “I eat a kebab every day. Most days I will have two. It seems the processed lamb and chicken strips to go are irresistible to staff as well as customers – from builders queuing for a can of meat from opening time at 11:30 a.m. to famed food critic Jay Rayner.
One of the first things you see when you walk into the takeout is a portrait of David Schwimmer, and it’s not because the owners are megafans of Ross from Friends. The actor hired his favorite kebab shop to host his Shoreditch town hall wedding in 2018. “The whole experience was surreal,” Fatih said. “We wrapped and stuffed the whole van with skewers and delivered them to the lobby. He was such a lovely guy.
And he’s not the only celebrity who loves the best Turkish kebab. Rapper M Huncho is a regular and recently filmed a music video in the shop, chef Ainsley Harriot can often be seen queuing for a kebab, and even London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called it his favourite, although Fatih says he won’t. serve Sadiq again – half joking, half no – until he opens up local roadblocks that he closed to create car-free zones. Doner in a box, fries with meat and gravy piled on top, are celebrity staples, Fatih says.
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So what makes Best Turkish Kebab the, well… the best? The 24-year-old, who finds time to chat at 2 p.m. on Thursday despite the relentless waves of customers wanting kebabs – the number of people you’d normally only see in a kebab shop on Friday night at 11 p.m. – shares secrets of the family business with MyLondon, saying: ‘It’s quite simple, really.’
Meat quality comes first at Best Turkish Kebab. Ishmail, the owner, only uses the shoulder of lamb for his doner meat, rather than the dripping, rotating cones of meat made from a culmination of eyeballs, brains, and any body part that can be extracted from a lamb, which most kebab shops use. . The result of being picky with the cut is juicy, tender meat that really tastes like lamb.
The quality of the meat is why Fatih says he eats two doners a day. “I never tire of them. Because it’s pure shoulder meat, unlike oily factory-bought kebabs, our doners aren’t dripping with fat and are actually really healthy, a lot of people don’t know that. It’s hard to argue with a man in such pristine shape.
They also take their sauce very seriously. You can’t visit a kebaby without being asked, ‘Chili sauce?’ Best Kebab’s tangy and fiery offering entices customers to order fries just to dip them in the sauce, and frothing them on their skewers gives them their trademark flavor. Fatih says his dad would kill him if he shared the family’s secret recipe, so I look no further.
However, the community that the family business has built is even more essential to the success of Best Kebab. “Food aside, the bond we have with customers is really special, some people just come to chat,” Fatih says. Regular customers, known by name, don’t even have to ask for what they want as the staff have already packed, boxed and bagged their favorite order before they can say “David Schwimmer”.
It’s a recipe for success for the family business which has been a Stoke Newington institution since 1981, when Fatih’s uncle Osman Cinik opened the shop on De Beauvoir Road. He passed it on to his brother, Fatih’s father, Ismail Demir in 2010. The queues that descend most nights, sometimes requiring staff to stand outside and guard, are a clear indicator that this is a favorite destination for Londoners. Whether their kebabs are the best in London, you’ll have to decide for yourself. All I can say after eating a doner wrap is that it lives up to its name.