Maybe it’s a hangover from Valentine’s Day. Ali Kaneet gets romantic about kebabs.
New Star Kebabs
5 Auburn Rd, Auburn
I’ve got a problem with kebabs. I’m obsessed. I eat them drunk. I eat them sober. I buy them from restaurants or dodgy caravans at servos. I miss kebab shops when they close down, even if it was in the interests of health and safety. Paradise Diner, I’ll never forget you. I still remember my first kebab, from A La Turko in the food court at Westfield Parramatta, and the girl who served it to me. The Ali Baba kebabery jingle takes me back to my youth, watching movies at the George Street cinemas where the ads played, then going for a doner across the road.
Despite my love for kebabs, I don’t presume to be an expert. I’m not the kind of food writer to make up a Top Ten list when I haven’t sampled every last lamb sandwich. Looking for the best kebab in Sydney I turn to a friend and kebab lover whose passion is so powerful that he once ate four in one session. He points me to Auburn, at the centre of Sydney’s Turkish community, and home to New Star Kebabs.
I’m a little nervous ordering a lamb kebab with the lot at New Star. The love of a kebab is a deeply personal thing. Where one man goes for chicken, another swears by beef. Some think barbecue sauce is a must, while others call it an abomination. Will my friend’s favourite kebab leave me cold?
I know good things are in store when I see the load of lamb that is shovelled on the hot plate. The lamb kebab with the lot is ten dollars but I’m not being shortchanged. The bread is warmed on the hot plate alongside the meat then piled with fillings. The kebab-man won’t need to bench press with the workout he gets forcing the kebab closed.
“Do you need a bag?” He asks. I turn down the offer. I can’t wait a minute to rip into the feast. I take a seat in front of the shop. The bread is great, soft and chewy, and durable enough to hold back the bursting contents. The salad is fresh with especially nice tomatoes – so often tasteless in kebabs. Then there’s the meat, oh the meat. This could be the one. This may well be Sydney’s best kebab.
Then I think of other kebab shops: there’s a place in Rydalmere that had a great beetroot dip; in Arncliffe a bloke served his kebabs with lovely picked radishes; there’s the drunken camaraderie outside the kebab shop next to Scruffy Murphy’s; and I do like the smoky flavour of Ali Baba’s kebabs. There are so many great kebabs out there, and so many more to try. It could be a long time before I settle down to become a one-kebab man.