REVIEW: Doner-G, Anaheim
I love living in the greater Los Angeles area. We have a huge melting pot of people, the particular mixture of which is to be found here and only here, and the result is that LA is one of just a few places in the US where you can find pretty much any ethnic food you want, as long as you're willing to brave a little traffic anyway.
One of the foods, however, that is just damn near impossible to find is Turkish. I attribute this, as you know, to the huge Armenian community in Southern California. I have found that Turkish people who run restaurants tend to advertise them as Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or even Lebanese, and they tend to use generic Arabic, Greek or English terms -- foul instead of pilaki, tzatziki instead of cacik. Turkish specialities are either hidden as things like "stuffed eggplant" (instead of imam bayildi) or simply left off the menu.
So it was with some amount of surprise that I learned that there was a Turkish restaurant -- an unapologetic, out-of-the-closet Turkish restaurant -- down the street from my house.
But it wasn't until today that I went... and yes, it's definitely Turkish.
I had the doner lavash (lamb, not chicken) and the hummus. They also have lots of shish kebab and a few stew-type dishes, as well as salads. They're actually somewhat short on the meze, which was surprising.
The doner was tasty, though I swear if you put the lavash and the flour tortilla that Baja Fresh uses for their burritos in front of me and blindfolded me, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The meat was well-spiced, the sauce was appropriate (Canadians, yes, it's real donair sauce), the tomatoes were fine.
The hummus, however, was terrible. Though it was tasty and garlicky enough, it was so thick you could cut it, and it didn't come with any kind of bread product for dipping. It wouldn't occur to me to ask for bread with my hummus.
Service was fine. It's an order-at-the-counter place, and either you pick up your food or they bring it to you. No big deal. The kids behind the counter are nice, they're willing to explain what things are, though the accents are a bit thick. For that matter, I was the only person in the restaurant not speaking Turkish, which surprised me -- who knew East Anaheim was a hotbed of Turkish culture?
I'll definitely go back. The prices are low enough -- mostly in the $5-$9 range -- that it's worth trying the other things... and maybe next time they won't have sold out of the kemalpasa dessert.
2139 E Ball Rd, Anaheim, CA 92806
Last year I was searching the Web for a place to buy a Turkish coffee pot and identified a store in the same area as Doner G. Unfortunately, it no longer existed (at that address, anyway). I wonder if the neighborhood has a significant Turkish population and if there are other hidden treasures nearby?
You're right. Why aren't there more Turkish restaurants in Los Angeles.
Just the other week though, there was a small review in the Times about a Turkish joint in Reseda serving up kebabs and iskander and doner, very interesting stuff, to be sure considering there's almost Turkish restaurants around town.