The memory of Pita Grill's food is still as fresh as the salads and vegetable offerings it once served. But its replacement, DonerG, has been a perennial favorite of ours here at The Weekly ever since it opened its first store in Anaheim. The Irvine restaurant is its second, and it, too, like Pita Grill before it, serves things carved from a spinning cone of meat.
DonerG's twirling meat cone is already part of the restaurant's name: doner kebab. No matter what it's called, be it gyro, tarna, shawarma, or even al pastor, all share the same DNA–these are slabs of marinated beef or chicken, stacked (impaled really) in front of heating element that slowly cooks it. As people order, a giant serrated saber shaves it like they're whittling down a tree trunk. Since it's done by hand, the meat at DonerG can come in delicate petals or thicker fingers.
My favorite thus far has been the chicken doner pita, wherein a toasted-to-crispy pita swaddles what must be at least three fistfuls of shaved chicken slathered in a thousand island-like sauce. The meat is best when it's gotten a little singed, the edges slightly charred. It's a satisfying sandwich–one of those that you don't think you can finish by yourself, until you do.
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.