The young man working the counter at the Anaheim Turkish restaurant DONER G was exceedingly kind while telling me I couldn't have anything I ordered. Soups? No. Salads? Not today. Stews, falafels, beans? Each time, he shook his head with a smile. But surely, they had some of Turkey's infamous coffee brewing?
"Sorry, friend," the man replied, peeved—but not at me. "We've only been open 15 days. We need more workers. But soon. Soon." Behind him, two workers barked orders at each other in Turkish as the line behind me grew.
You can tell Doner G—one of maybe three Turkish eateries in Orange County—has big plans. Their space is too big to support its current fast-food existence, the pictures on the wall are too regal, the large empty spot in the middle too much of an enticement for dancing, whether belly-dancing or the club kind. One of the short-order cooks wears a chef's coat. Seating alternates between booths and tables—and the highchairs on the side suggest Doner G is preparing for the families that will soon spend long evenings.
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All in the future, though—as it stands, Doner G just serves warm bread and rice, cubed lamb and chicken kebabs, and doner, the Anatolian version of shawerma. You can order either chicken or beef doner as a plate or in a wrap, but the results don't change: petal-thin slices of tender, spiced meat as delicate as carpaccio, but more intense, piled on a large plastic plate. Ask for a bowl of jajik (a yogurt dip fresh with dill and cucumber) so you can dunk your meats for a cool aftertaste.
Better yet, munch on the iskender kebab plate—the same basic doner kebab meat, here covered in a light tomato sauce that tastes like it came from an Italian kitchen. Below the mound of shaved doner sit bits of pita bread that soak up meat and tomato juices. To the side is yogurt yellow with streams of melted butter. Run your doner slices through the yogurt and enjoy three kinds of sweetness—meat, vegetable and dairy, the most unhealthy yet well-rounded meal since the high-school-cafeteria lunch.
I can't wait for Doner G to get its act together, as the menu advertises many other dishes and will only expand. In the meantime, feast on the doner—and don't wince when paying $2.50 for a small piece of baklava, as the rosewater that squeezes out of the dessert and settles on your fingertips is worth the cost alone.
Doner G, 2139 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 956-0123; www.donerg.com.