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Monday, January 12, 2009

New Star Kebabs, Auburn

Oh I do love Auburn.

It's not a sentiment one often hears in the media, but sitting here, on an aluminium chair at a metal table amidst the hubbub of Auburn Road, I drink in the palpable energy and buzz about the place. The street is filled with passing kids and shoppers, the air is thick with the smell of charcoal and barbecuing meats, and middle-aged men all around me, sit, chat and gesticulate with resignation whilst time slowly passes on by.

We'd spent some time traversing the streets of Auburn: into the local butchers, the fruit and vegetable shop, the Lebanese pastry shop for a tray of ghoraybeh, the pale powdery Lebanese shortbread cookies topped with a single pistachio. It's a refreshing change to shop in family stores, small-time businesses crammed with all manner of goods, specials spruiked on hand-written price cards. It's a working class suburb, no doubt, but there's a determined industriousness to the place on this Saturday afternoon.

Lamb shish kebabs

The best thing I love about Auburn, of course, is the multitude of delicious, cheap and authentic food. Authentic is my favourite word when it come to cuisine, a word I use to describe food that is true to its overseas roots, rather than tricked up, plated up or diluted in flavour in order to appeal to 'Western' palates.

New Star Kebabs Restaurant

The smells emanating from New Star Kebab take me straight back to a little alley in Istanbul. If the smell of charcoal doesn't get your attention, the boys behind the counter cajoling potential customers surely will. On the left is the food all ready to go. Giant slabs of yeeros spin slowly behind a counter filled with pide, pizzas, salads and breads. On the right is the meat station, flat metal skewers packed tightly with marinated meats. The fact the flat skewers resemble swords is no coincidence as it's believed this practice began with medieval Turkish soldiers who made use of their swords to cook meat over fire.

Here the poor soul charged with cooking the skewers over the charcoal barbecue is lost in a haze of smoke, his only protection a flattened pizza box used to fan the smoke every now and again.

Chicken shish kebabs

We order the mixed shish kebab, and while it's cooking we tuck into a scroll of lahmacun, the Turkish mince meat pizza.

Lahmacun $4.00
Turkish mince meat pizza

The bread is like a cross between very thin Turkish bread and a crispy pizza base. The topping is a flattened mixture of lamb mince, diced tomato, onion, red capsicum and spices. It's simple but flavoursome, the tomato and lamb mince still very moist. And for a modest $4, it's probably one of the healthiest and cheapest meat-themed snacks you can find.

Mixed shish plate $19.00
Your choice of three shish kebabs
served with tomato, red cabbage, onion, roasted hot chillis,
lemon and Turkish bread

Our mixed shish plate arrives nestled beneath a doona of soft and fluffy Turkish bread.

The three of us share the platter, alernating beneath mouthfuls of lamb, spiced lamb mince and chicken, doused with a generous squeeze of lemon. All are tender and juicy, with gloriously caramelised edges that taste of charcoal. They're all rather good but Veruca Salt, Speedy and I all vote the chicken as our favourite.

A rainbow of salads provide vitamins and palate-cleansing relief. The pickled red cabbage is quite salty, but the tomatoes are juicy and the onion not as hot as you'd expect.

Mado ice cream

And in spite of our groaning stomachs, we easily find room for ice cream at Mado Cafe up the road. I'd been craving their stretchy maras dondurma ice cream for months.

Mango ice cream and maras dondurma

Maras dondurma is made with the pounded roots of a wild Turkish orchid, a powder that is also used in salep, one of my favourite thickened milk drinks to have in winter. The orchid root gives the maras dondurma a unique stretchy and chewy quality, giving the unusual sight of mozzarella-like tendrils as you bite into the ice cream. Imagine a milky smooth ice cream that has the texture of softened caramel and you're almost there. It's unique and dangerously addictive.

A bit like the food in Auburn.

Maras dondurma and hazelnut ice cream

Pomegranate ice cream and maras dondurma

View Larger Map
New Star Kebabs on Urbanspoon

New Star Kebabs
15 Auburn Road, Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9643 8433

View Larger Map
Mado Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mado Cafe
63 Auburn Road, Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9643 5299

Related GrabYour Fork posts:
Auburn -- Al Sofra Pizza, Pide and Kebabs
Auburn -- Mado Cafe (Jul06)

Auburn food tour - August 2006
Auburn food tour - July 2006
Auburn shopping - Harkola Food World Wide warehouse
13 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/12/2009 01:21:00 am


  • At 1/12/2009 8:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lunch was so yummy. Ice cream, not so much. Not really into it's strange texture. It was like the magic pudding of ice creams. Too scoops was way too much.

    We gotta try the new leb joint near my place one day very soon.

  • At 1/12/2009 9:42 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love dondurma! It's fun to poke around in those little supermarkets, but I always feel like a tourist. I try to buy something to compensate for the stickbeaking, but I don't know if it helps.

  • At 1/12/2009 10:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    whenever I get cravings for shish kebabs, New Star Kebab is the one place that I always go to. I've been here at least a dozen times, so far, it has never failed to impress. After a shish kebab session, it's mandatory to complete my meal with baklavas and ice cream from Mados. I think i'll be heading of to Auburn very soon =D

  • At 1/12/2009 1:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I recognised the guy in your opening photo as one of the friendly staff who served me a few weeks ago! I was going to suggest that you try this place too but it seems like you're no stranger! We had the mixed plate too and was SO worth it and a great late night dinner meal. Chicken was my favourite too. :P

  • At 1/12/2009 3:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Like Linda has mentioned, you've visited 2 of my favourite spots in Auburn. The shish never fails to impress, their gozleme etc is good too.

    And I agree with you Veruca Salt, the texture of the ice cream is funny.

  • At 1/12/2009 3:54 pm, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    Ooo the chewy ice cream! How fun is that stuff? I've only had it a couple of times, so should probably get around to trying more flavours lol.

  • At 1/12/2009 5:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You forgot to mention the old men's worry beads... if they were Lebanese then they'd surely have them!

    I love Auburn too ;)

  • At 1/13/2009 3:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for such an interesting look at Auburn... I was born (almost 29 years ago) in Auburn, went to preschool there and sadly even though I returned to Sydney for some time, have never been back.

    Next visit to Sydney I think I might just take a little look around and try some of this delicious food.. Love your blog :)

  • At 1/13/2009 10:57 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - Lunch was great, and I loved the ice cream. The texture is strange but in a good way! You know me... I like chewy.

    Always happy to explore with you. I don't know what's with me lately, but I could eat Lebanese once a week I think!

    Hi Arwen - Oh I always love wandering the aisles of "ethnic" supermarkets. I find that usually the shopkeepers don't even notice you. There are always some great finds. I made up a batch of falooda only the other day using a box of instant falooda found in an Indian spice shop. And I usually stock up on salep, Turkish Delight, pashmak and pastirma from the Turkish delis.

    Hi Linda - New Star is great altho' I do feel sorry for the man in the bbq sauna! The trek up to Mado is essential too. Happy eating :)

    Hi Min Ai - The staff are very vocal, but it's all part of the charm, I think. The chicken was so juicy and tender. If I was craving a late-night kebab I'd definitely head here too :)

    Hi Howard - I think the texture is why I find the dondurma so fascinating. I love the textural confusion for your tongue! It's so intriguing, and now I'm getting cravings for it all over again. I should ask if they sell it takeaway.

    Hi Miss Honey - The dondurma is a must-have but I usually have 2 scoops so I can try something else. I love the cones too. It's one of the few places that has those two-sided cones still!

    Hi Christie - I can't say I recall worry beads but maybe that's because I was staring at the kebabs instead. lol.

    Hi Prizetastic - It's always great to take a trip down memory lane and return to your roots. I'm sure it's changed in 29 years. Hope you make it back sometime (for a meal especially!).

  • At 1/14/2009 9:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Next time try the dip platter and Sucuk Pide at Brothers kebab next few shops down from New Star. Its next to the commonwealth. Its probably the better of the Pide in Auburn. Warning the chilli dip is pretty fiery :)

  • At 1/14/2009 10:06 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi OutbackDee - Still haven't made it to Brothers altho' we've walked past it plenty of times. Thanks for the tip. Duly noted :)

  • At 4/18/2011 3:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We live in Brisbane and it was a genuine treat to try some authentic kebabs. I love Auburn and New Star Kebabs, but my husband is obsessed with it! Forget the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House, he would move to Sydney to be closer to this 'special' place. "Next pleaaase" (which the guys randomly say at the door, even if there is no customers) has become his favourite phrase. As my cooking will never again suffice and as a wife who loves her husband dearly, next time you go to New Star Kebabs, can you please suggest that they move or open a new restaurant here in QLD! :)Many thanks!

  • At 11/11/2011 8:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Awesome food. Best kabobs in Australia. Wll give 5 stars!


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