Team Y is in a hand-held hurry to sample street food’s ultimate on-the-go offering at this new Al Mouj outlet.
After a few hours of overtime on a deadline crunch, nothing short of a Netflix marathon and a takeaway will do – the badder-for-you-the-better. This was the frame of mind we were in one weekday evening after a long day at the office; our focus singular and simplistic. Get home, get food – fast.
The closest oasis of eateries on our drive towards 18th November Street was Al Mouj; and with myriad new openings along its pedestrian-friendly The Walk, we thought we would nip in for a quick grab-and-go. Wanting something hearty, comforting, and quick; we’d heard rumblings about the new Döner & Gyros that had just opened its air-conditioned doors.
There’s something undeniably crave-worthy about this ‘shawarma style’ of street food – succulent strips of meat cooked on a spit, shaved, wrapped, slathered with sauce and fixings and a heaping helping of fries. When done right it’s fast, it’s hot, it’s dripping with flavour; and is probably one of the world’s most recognisable fast foods.
It doesn’t get much more deliciously simple than that nor should it. It’s a combo that’s gone on to define the various cultural street food identities of more than a few nations – from the shawarmas of Egypt, to the gyros of Greece, and the döner kebabs of Turkey.
Tonight, that sounded like ‘job done’ to us! Having just recently opened a matter of weeks ago, hunger and curiosity have brought the crowds out – and there’s a line-up at the till to place our order. Through the semi-open kitchen area we can see vertical rotisseries of juicy beef and chicken slowing grilling away. There’s a casually-comfortable seating area adorned with wood-topped tables and splashes of décor in the brand’s colour palette of orange, white, and black. It all makes for a cozy space for both eat-in or takeaway.
Tonight, it’s unequivocally the latter for us as, scanning their moreish menu, we order up a beef Gyro Platter to share, one of their classic Berlin Döners with a side of onion rings, and a portion of their Dönermite Fries with chicken. The service was friendly and our order came relatively fast in spite of the evening rush at the counter.
As is the trade-off with takeaway, by the time we reached home the food needed a bit of reheating with a short zap in the microwave, while we crossed our fingers the pitta bread and onion rings wouldn’t become soggy.
Arranging our spread, we tuck in – starting with the Gyro Platter, which came with a mountainous portion of delicately-shaved beef strips, triangles of puffy pitta and a Greek salad.
The meat was surprisingly lean and non-oily for a restaurant of this stripe, and the pitta bread fresh and fluffy – the perfect fodder for our little build-your-own mini-gyros we were trying our hand at. Full disclosure – this writer despises fast food salads that tend to be brown and wilted with very little nutrition to justify their existence on a drive-thru menu.
But the Gyro Platter’s Greek salad surprised us. The lettuce, onion, tomato and green capsicum were crunchy and fresh; with slices of black olives and cubes of creamy feta rounding it out nicely. Accompanying the platter was a selection of Döner & Gyros house-made sauces – a creamy, garlicky tzatziki; a barbecue-style sweetly-spiced tomato-based sauce; and a spicy lemon and herb mayo.
All were standout accompaniments that enhanced the dish’s already stellar depth of flavour.
The Berlin Döner was another hit with a toasted-to-perfection waffle pitta enclosing juicy morsels of chicken and beef; topped with fresh tomatoes, onion, and cabbage and slathered with said sauces. The onion rings were also a surprise standout, with a delicate bread-crumbing foregoing our expectation of stodgy, battered greasy rings.
Lastly, the portion of Dönermite Fries was – as the name suggests, an explosion of flavour. Served in a bowl, poutine-style, they consisted of a mound of fries buried under thickly-shaved slabs of rotisserie chicken and topped with all three of Döner & Gyros’ decadent sauces with a lashing of pickled jalapeños as the savoury equivalent of the cherry-on-top.
While the flavour was potent, the only downside we could claim was that the whole shebang was a bit too over-drenched in condiments, which resulted in a bit of a gloopy mess towards the bottom of the bowl. This dish, while delicious, is better eaten in rather than taken away.
Did Döner & Gyros deliver above expectation? Without a doubt. Were we surprised? Yes. Was our meal fast food? Surely – but with an elevated execution that’s led our taste-buds to believe there could be hope yet for an industry that desperately needs a new benchmark.
Ground floor, The Walk, Al Mouj
Contact: (+968) 2257-4950
Dinner for two: RO12.18
Kebab and gyro shop serving filling portions of street-food takeaway classics that skimp on the grease, not on the flavour.
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