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Jul 31, 2010 09:37 AM

German-style Döner Kebab in Detroit Area?

Soon I'll have a day a bit east of Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, not far from Detroit. Because the nearby Dearborn area is supposed to have a big Middle-Eastern food influence, I have to ask this question, but in fact what I'm after is not Middle-Eastern but specifically German-Turkish: the döner kebab as made by Turkish immigrants in Germany and sold everywhere there.

I don't want to seem prickly, but I have to underscore that I am not asking about gyro/shawarma sandwiches in general, nor even about an authentic Turkish place. The German Turks have a particular take on the form: using a different bread from pita, utilizing shredded cabbage, adding a hot red sauce, etc. For those of you who've tried the German style: is that to be had anywhere in the Detroit area? Maybe even Windsor? Most Americans know this sandwich only from military service or (like me) student study-abroad in Germany.

Here's a previous CHOW thread and a cool blog statement on this specific sandwich, in case you're curious:

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  1. I myself used to live in Germany (Karlsruhe) and LOVED Döner Kebab (especially after a night of drinking). Sadly in the last 19 years I have not ran into a German Style Döner Kebab.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JanPrimus

      When I was in Germany a few years back, I had doners, and really, really liked them, though your description doesn't match my memory. Suffice it to say that I haven't seen anything around here that would match either your description, or my memory. Sorry.

      1. re: boagman

        Thanks for the replies so far. I've learned not to get my hopes up when I ask about this in various places.

        To boagman: how do you remember these things? I thought my description was pretty generic, except that the Döner stands in Germany don't actually put on the spicy red sauce (scharfe Sosse) but leave it to buyers as one of their sauce options. I am most familiar with the Berlin ones.

        1. re: Bada Bing

          The sauce, as you so aptly figured out, was the big sticking point for me. IIRC, there really wasn't anything hot/spicy nor red about the doner...the sauce I had on the ones I bought was somewhat more yogurtesque in nature and texture, though I liked it a good bit, and I'm not the biggest yogurt fan you'll ever meet. While they might have offered the sauce, it wasn't on the sandwich, and I didn't see it readily offered anywhere to be taken "on the go". It was a pretty typical takeaway joint, as far as I could tell (but I'm not European, either).

          I'll fully admit that I'm also a bit fuzzy about the shredded cabbage, too, but I'm sure there was *some sort* of greenish leafy vegetation on the thing...I just can't remember if it was cabbage or not. Mostly I remember the meat, bread, and yogurt-like sauce, and how they complimented each other so nicely.

          Again, Bada Bing, it's been a few (6?) years for me since I had them, but I remember the sauce (and the lack of a red sauce, specifically) very vividly. Mine were bought right near the German/Swiss/French border of Germany, in the Black Forest. Could be another regional explanation, or just the nature of different Turks doing things differently.

          Now you've got me all curious about the red sauce. No fair! ;)

          1. re: boagman

            Actually, in addition to my time in Berlin, I also spent in year in Freiburg right where you were, and I do recall that the few Döner stands there were both a bit pricey and also not as spicy as In Berlin.

    2. NOPE. No Doner Kebab in the D.
      Have been going into and out of Doner withdrawl. I am in Germany and Switzerland nearly everymonth and can typically settle down for one each month.

      The "salat" is not ubiquitously only cabbage or only lettuce but sometimes a mix depending on the tastes of the vendor. In some places I have very pleasant spring green mixes and in others Iceberg.

      Likewise the bread is not always the same: Doner Flatenbrot or Durum is a Roll in a flat Lawash like bread, that you each like a burrito. Doner Tasche (or sometimes just Doner) is served usually inside a fresh made bread that again depending on the vendor may sucessfully have a nice pita like pocket inside, or other times might be sliced like a burger bun.

      Order it Scharfe if you want the hot sauce (usually more oil than sauce with roasted chili in it like a Sambal Oelek) otherwise it gets the pink or white yogurt-based sauce like the Boagman describes.

      Other Doner based delights...
      Doner pizza (pizza with Doner meat, guess that was self-explanatory)
      DonerBox (Doner meat sliced onto box of Fries, sauced and carried to go)

      maybe the franchise rights for these guys are up for grabs in the D

      4 Replies
      1. re: workinglunches2

        You're telling me the only place in the U.S. where I can get Döner is in LEESBURG, VA? Wow. I've got to give a paper down at VA-Tech in November. Might be worth a detour. I haven't had döner since the summer of 2007 in Trier.

        1. re: proclusian

          I have not had mine since 1991 in Karlsruhe! Quit your whining! :)

          1. re: JanPrimus

            You've even got me beat, JanPrimus! My last was 1992 in Berlin.

            Except that once, in 2000 or so, I found a place in London that pretty much had the German-style thing down. Still, much too long ago...

        2. The last time I had a Doner Kepab was a decade an a half ago- and nothing compares. It's sooo good! The only gyros I find here in California are greek ones but it's nowhere near the same thing. The Doner Kepabs I had in Nurnberg, Germany would be in a turkish pita bread that had black sesame seeds sprinkled on the bun ( which only added to the yummyness!) shredded purple cabbage, seasoned lamb meat that they sliced in front of you, a yoghurt sauce and peperoncini. Some places would add sliced tomatos. And if you wanted to make your's spicy they'd have those jars with crushed dry red peppers. They had Gyros stands everywhere. The turkish pizzas are also unforgettable. They were these tortilla thin pizzas with well sesoned meat on them. Yummalicious!!! So sad we don't have one here (that I know about)

          1. FOUND THEM!!!!! It is a store that also has a little cafe in it....I haven't had the doner yet, as I just discovered it tonight, and it was closed...


            1 Reply
            1. re: anfractuosities

              I went to the Mediterranian grocery today. Huge grocery selection. The cafe serves Shawarma and grilled meats. Not quite donner kabob but still interesting.

            2. Like many other things from Germany, Kurbiscornbrotchen (pumpkin seed rolls) for one, outside of Athens, GA, I have not seen a German Doner Kabab....I live in NJ now which has a HUGE Turkish population...asking/calling around to see if the turkish restaurants they have Doner Kabab, I get a lot of "of course!!"...but what they're really saying is they serve a lot of Doner on a plate, sometimes with bread... The Germanic/Turkish awesomeness that is Doner Kabab is not to be found.
              Here's the place in Athens, GA

              12 Replies
              1. re: sixelagogo

                I am Turkish guy living in the area and unfortunately there are no places that make Turkish Style Doner kebabs. Gyro or Mid-East style is not the same. The perp of the meat that matters!!The Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan has doner nights few times a year and is open to public. There is one other person who sometime makes Turkish Doner in Sterling Heights but not always.

                1. re: kowski76

                  Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan

                  Is that the place off of Beck road?

                  1. re: JanPrimus

                    yes. But the doner is few times a year. You need to track it.

                    1. re: kowski76

                      I see that they call it İskender döner kebap but from what I have read İskender and döner are two different styles. I am guessing this is somewhere in the middle.

                      1. re: JanPrimus

                        Iskender is just a version of Doner Kebab. Doner means "rotating" in Turkish. Iskender is when the "doner kebab" meat is served on a on pita bread with yogurt and tomato sauce. They would poured melted butter on top of all and serve.

                        The most traditional doner kebab is served between on Turkish white bread( similar to french baguet bread) as a sandwich or in the pita bread pocket. Typically the sandwhich with be complemented with tomato,lettuce,green pepper and onions and maybe pickled cucumber. Many shops in Turkey would also put french fries or patato salad in to your sandwich if you want.

                        1. re: kowski76

                          Thanks for the should edit the wiki a bit to clarify it all out for the next guy.


                          1. re: JanPrimus

                            I guess we agree to agree on definitions. Probably the best part of Chowhound. Although I didn't find the Meditteranean to be what I expected for Doner kabob from my Paris and Hannover experience (and the called it shawarma themselves) welcome all to the discussion.

                            The quest continues.

                  2. re: kowski76

                    Sterling Heights: I am there in the middle of the night... any details???

                    1. re: goatgolfer

                      Mediterranean Specialty Foods
                      45701 Hayes Road, Shelby Township, MI 48315-6215

                      The family runnig the shop rented the restaurant side to a Turkish cook. She prepares the Doner. But not always.

                      1. re: kowski76

                        kowski76: While I visited there a couple of weeks ago I should have asked the lady chef about doner specifically and which style. I called tonight at 586 884 6732 and got vmail. It seems your info is on point but only at the special events/days. Are you nearby and can ask the what style/bread/sauce/condiments for the doner and when is the next event? I am happy to do that as well if you are far away?? We have several doner supporters and are trying to raise the collective CH sharing value. Up to it?

                        1. re: goatgolfer

                          She is no longer renting the place bc of low sales. She has her own catering business and sounds like she will continue with that. She has a website called Turkishcooking 101 and I think you can get further detail from her.

                          1. re: kowski76

                            I think we need to throw a fiesta....