Kebab shops line the main street of Auburn, their windows filled with pide, their backlit menus on the same sea blue background. Thick glistening columns of meat, as wide and sturdy as a forest tree trunk, rotate slowly behind the counter, a charcoal grill hisses when marinated meat skewers hit its surface.
We had skipped the kebab shops on our first food tour of Auburn. I wasn’t about to make that same mistake again.
We have lunch at Sofra, a kebab shop consistently mentioned when talk turns to "the best of Auburn". They are probably the biggest kebab shop in Auburn, too, with a long green awning lining the footpath, outdoor chairs and tables, and indoor seating as well.
We head inside to place our orders at the friendly takeaway counter. It involves a painstaking series of torn decisions; the prices make you want to weep. A beef kebab is $5 (with lettuce, tomato and onion) or $6 if you want homous, tabouli and cheese. A chicken kebab is $6, or $7 with the lot. A felafel roll stays at 1990 prices at $4.50. With our hard decision-making work finally completed, we escape the smouldering heat and take a table outside in the cool of the shade.
Hoummos, garlic and tzatziki dips $6.60 large
We start with a trio of dips: the hoummos has an intense roasted chickpea flavour that it unlike its usual watery bland counterparts; the garlic dip is deliciously potent with a garlic heat that is addictive; the tzatziki is a refreshing coolness of tangy yoghurt and cucumber.
The dips are mopped up with thin sponges of Turkish bread, fresh, soft and airy, in a wicker basket that is automatically replenished throughout our meal.
Cauliflower and potato salad $6.60 large
A large cauliflower and potato salad is unbelievably good. Discs of deep-fried potato meet with battered florets of cauliflower. The cauliflower is lightly battered, fried to give a deliciously nutty and sweet flavour. Strips of chargrilled eggplant come to the party, along with a confetti of finely chopped parsley and green spring onions.
Falafel plate $6.60
We share a falafel plate which comes with side salads of tabbouleh--bright green and lemony, shreds of raw red cabbage, and wedges of tomato with batons of cucumber.
The falafel are dense squat patties with flecks of green. They are a little drier than what I'm used to, and I prefer the crunchy deep-fried version to these softer skinned patties.
Mix plate with adana, chicken and kusbasi $16.00
The main event is our mix plate, a triple serving of protein with adana, chicken and kusbasi. Aadana is named after the city of Adana in Turkey, and is a mixture of lamb mince, salt and dried red pepper flakes cooked on a wide flat skewer over charcoal. The chicken appears to be basted with garlic and chilli flakes, thick chunks of fillet that have caramelised on the edges.
The kusbasi is the soul of a genuine shish kebab. The chunks of marinated lamb loin taste of mint, cumin, pepper and a touch of cinnamon. A thin strap of turkish bread lines the plate, quietly soaking up the tasty meat juices.
We eat our fill, dipping and ducking amidst a tangle of arms. This is good cheap food, made for sharing.
Al Sofra Pizza, Pide & Kebab Takeaway House
35 Auburn Rd (cnr Queen) Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9649 9167
Related GrabYour Fork posts:
Auburn dining: Mado Cafe
Auburn food shopping: Harkola Food World Wide warehouse
Auburn photographic food tour, August 2006
Auburn photographic food tour, July 2006
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8/30/2006 11:56:00 pm