By Koray Hussein
Last year I visited Bosphorus Kebabs (my initial review is below this update) and raved about how amazing their doner was. It was just about as tasty as a kebab outside Turkey, Greece and Cyprus can get and has been a place I’ve been meaning to revisit for a long, long time.
I waited as long as Korayly possible and continued to review other places (including another kebab place in Stoke Newington) and tried my best to ignore the urge to return. Nobody wants to revisit a site which is filled with updates on the same old places.
So sometime in January I figured enough was enough, grabbed a mate and made my way back to Bosphorus.
Last time I visited I went for a gloriously brown and juicy doner kebab but figured I’d branch out to the fattest degree and ordered ana* XL mixed grill… again, like last time, don’t judge me.
For all the praise I am willing to dish out on Bosphorus Kebabs, portion size is not one of them. Their smalls are indeed small, their larges are much more like a medium and their extra large is what I would personally call a large.
Either way, just like last time, I looked over the reviews on the wall and spent the entire waiting period assuring my friend to ignore how cramped the place was and that Bosphorus is home to some incredible kebabs.
After a shortish, wait the food arrived and by Gawd it looked amazing.
There was no list of what exactly was in the mixed grill but by looking at the menu and what was on my plate I would guess that we were served: regular shish, spicy shish, kofte, spicy kofte, lamb doner, chicken shish and a chicken wing… each. The whole thing was also accompanied by a nice fresh salad and a steaming pitta bread.
I’ll save everybody some reading time and tackle everything at once… Oh My God. The entire selection of meat was incredibly juicy and as flavourful as meat can get. The chicken wing stood out as being probably my favourite of the bunch but everything was simply amazing.
The doner meat was succulent and crispy at the same time and the kofte (probably my least favourite kebab) was very moreish.
Stoke Newington may be the place to be if you’re on the lookout for a good kebab but if you do find yourself in the South Kensington area you can do no better than Bosphorus Kebabs. It is on par with the best that Stoke Newington has to offer and is in no way a step down. Even after my first visit, it still surprised me just how much I enjoyed the food. Get down there.
Get down there now.
*This isn’t a typo. I went crazy wondering whether it should be ‘a’ because it’s followed by an X or ‘an’ since the X stands for extra. Shortly before I lost the will to live I decided to invent ‘ana’ for situations just like this. You’re welcome.
Originally Posted 16/06/14
By Koray Hussein
Now, I’ll gladly admit that I’m no food expert. I love eating most foods (Apart from tuna. You can keep that to yourself,) and really appreciate quality food. However if there was one type of food that I would say I know my sh-tuff about; it’s kebabs.
Taking one look at my name, you’ll probably notice that it’s not exactly a British sounding one. It’s Turkish, and by law if you have a Turkish name, you are required to know the difference between an alright kebab and a kebab so fine that you want to put a ring on it. Bosphorus Kebabs leans very heavily towards the latter.
I happened upon the place entirely based on a friends recommendation I’d been given mere minutes before. We’d both decided to head to London’s Science Museum to see if I could get a Photo Walk post out of the place (I couldn’t) and then decided to see if there was a decent restaurant nearby (There was).
Fortunately for me, after the unsuccessful visit to the Science Museum, my friend who had studied at the nearby Imperial College, told me about a local kebab place that some of his classmates had raved about. Me being Turkish and hungry, told him to point me in the direction of said place and to keep up.
The walk to Bosphorus Kebabs was thankfully short and as soon as the tiny kebab shop came into view I began to smile. For some reason I cannot explain, every kebab restaurant that I have ever visited has had it’s quality directly tied to how fancy the place did not look. If the exterior looks expensive and posh, the food generally tastes a bit bland or just downright bad. Alternatively, if the outside of the restaurant looks like the shop owners had just given their uncle £20 to slap together some bricks and cement, the food inside tastes amazing.
Now I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying that Bosphorus Kebabs’ exterior looked bad… but it didn’t look good. There were a few cheap tables and chairs strewn outside and the tables and chairs inside had all been crammed in, resulting in a slightly messy little seating plan.
But enough about how the shop itself looked. Let’s talk about their juicy and flavourful food.
You’ve probably already gathered from the above that I was more than pleased with the food on offer here. My friend ordered a small lamb shish while I opted for a large (don’t judge me) lamb doner.
Doner meat tends to suffer from quite a bad reputation, and with good reason. A hell of a lot of the doner kebabs you see on offer at most kebab and fried chicken shops contain less quality meat in them than a can of coke. They’re usually cobbled together with left over bits and pieces of lamb, chicken and sometimes even pork (yes even some of the ones that are labelled halal contain traces of pork). All of that lovely so called “meat” is then combined with roughly seventeen billion tonnes of fat (I may be exaggerating with that last point) and there’s your doner.
If there’s one tip that I can offer to any lover of kebabs that want to continue eating doner but not consume such poor ingredients, it’s this: If the doner looks dark brown and even slightly burnt, then it’s going to be of a higher quality. If it looks pale and almost white even though it’s been sitting in front of a flame for the last half hour, don’t eat it. Get a shish.
With all that being said Bosphorus passed the colour test with flying colours. The doner on show was a nice dark brown and looked to be crisping up nicely.
We placed our orders, slithered into our cramped seats and waited for our food to arrive. It was then that I noticed that the wall was plastered in tiny memo cards. Growing up in East London (and not the fashionable part) I’m used to seeing cards up in shop windows advertising unwanted furniture and rooms for rent… But this was South Kensington and a long way away from East Ham. I looked closer, wondering what on earth could be on these cards and read one of the scribbles:
A 3” x 5” card can’t do the “Bosphorus” justice! The best food in London – case closed.
Seth + Lib
New York City
Now, I understand that a pair of New Yorker’s aren’t going to be as good at knowing the best place to eat in London as a Londoner, but that’s still high praise. And that was just one of the cards. There were many, many more. Each inscribed with equally generous reviews.
I continued to scan over the cards until our food arrived… Served with a smaller than I would have liked salad and a pitta bread that was so hot it was almost melting the table. Underneath the pitta bread of death was a mound of perfectly browned and succulent doner.
I would love to sit here and tell you all about the flavours but honestly, I ate the whole damn thing so quickly all I can tell you is that as soon as you bit into the meat and tasted the seasoning you knew that this wasn’t your average doner meat. It was cooked to absolute perfection, crispy on one side whilst moist and juicy on the other, and together with the amazing chilli sauce (more on that in a second) went down very easily.
My friend, knowing exactly how fussy I am with my doner didn’t even have to ask me how it was. My eyes and the speed of my fork going from plate to mouth to plate to mouth told him everything he needed to know.
Likewise the shish he had ordered was being absolutely obliterated by him, although his portion was disappointingly small even for a small.
The chilli sauce… ah the chilli sauce. I’ve been blabbering on a bit too much here so I’m just going to wrap it up with this… the chilli sauce at the Bosphorus is as far away from the vinegary, radioactive red stuff you get from cheap kebab shops as you can get.
It was fantastic.
To say that I was impressed with Bosphorus Kebabs would be an understatement. It was highly enjoyable and the only real complaint I could have is the size of the portions. But that doner meat…
Have you been to Bosphorus? Do you know of any other kebab shops that I need (trust me it’s a need) to get down to? Please let us know in the comments!