Istanbul Kebap Haus simply the best kebab this side of the Bosporus
I love meat on a stick. There is something decidedly delicious about taking a chunk of meat, ramming a stick though it and cooking it over an open fire or hot coals. Call it primal, call it magic ... just call me for dinner.
In Turkey, the art of roasting meat over an open flame has been perfected, and in my seven years of living in Turkey, I ate more kebab than I care to admit.
Chunks of lamb, chunks of chicken, lamb ground into spicy Adana kebabs, clay pot kebabs (which is actually a stew), sliced meat in Iskender kebab, even the odd eggplant kebab — I have eaten them all. Eventually I expanded my culinary horizon to other Turkish mainstays, pide — long flatbread covered with “white cheese” that resembles feta or “yellow cheese” that resembles mozzarella sprinkled with spiced ground meat, or slices of Turkish sausage; lahmacun — flat durum bread baked until crispy, covered with spiced ground meat and topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and parsley and sprinkled with lemon and a spice called sumac; levrek — grilled sea bass, served with a salad and rice.
Eventually all good things must end. I moved to Germany about a year ago and after eating at some of the worst restaurants I have had the misfortune to set foot in, I swore off all the local Turkish places because I was convinced they would be horrible.
But whenever I would walk by the Kaiserslautern location of the Istanbul Kebap Haus, I could smell it — the spices of Anatolia, drifting out of the restaurant every time someone opened its door. So eventually my hunger outweighed my distrust and I went inside.
I started slowly at first. Perhaps a little lahmacun? Would I be burned? Who could mess that up? I ordered one, took it home and my wife and I devoured it. It was the perfect combination of everything lahmacun is — crispy, crunchy, meaty and chewy with the perfect combination of freshness from the salad, saltiness from the meat and sourness from the lemon. I had a feeling I was on to something, but I was still cautious.
The next time I ate at the Istanbul Kebap Haus, I was missing the Bosporus something fierce and I took a friend. I walked up to the counter and said, “Bir kuzu sis, lutfen” as I have probably a hundred times in Turkey. Within minutes I was eating my favorite, lamb shish kebabs. They were amazing. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked and amply portioned with everything you would expect to have accompanying it in any place in Istanbul — salad, rice, bulgar and fresh pide bread. It was quite honestly just as good as anything served at my favorite kebab place in Istanbul. In fact, as much as it kills me to say it ... it was better.
I have eaten through much of the menu at the restaurant since my first forays there, and I can honestly say I have never had a bad meal. From the food to the service, everything has always been excellent. If you are looking for a really Turkish meal, or are looking for a late-night culinary adventure before you set out for home, you can’t miss at the Istanbul Kebap Haus.
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Address: Market Strasse 1, KaiserslauternHours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 10 p.m.-6 a.m., Sundays and holidays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.Food: TurkishPrices: About 10 euros ($12) for most meals. Picture menu in Turkish, German, EnglishDress: CasualPhone: (+49) (0)631 7500-1560