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kebab house II

chuletitas | Oct 29, 2004 03:37 PM

I've noticed some recent postings about searches for good Turkish food, decent lamacun, etc. Well, the month-old Kebab House II at 144 Orchard St. should satisfy anyone's cravings.

The ambience is fast-food style and the owner keeps the place open late, but the results are quite delicious--worlds better than the hit-or-miss meals at nearby Bereket (whose quality seems to be based on who's manning the grill and how crowded the place is with bar-crawlers).

Kebab House II's lamacun (ground lamb and peppers baked into a flatbread, served with onions) is made to order from fresh dough, just as it should be. (Bereket inexcusably heats up frozen bread; the difference is like pizza from a wood-burning oven vs. Stouffer's). The finished product is wafer-thin and light, but full of body and flavor. This lamacun is actually comparable to what you might get in Turkey.

The kebabs are also fantastic. The adana kebab (spiced ground lamb from southern Turkey) was perfectly tender, full of pleasantly rangey lamb flavor and not overcooked. It's served with a very nice salad (based on romaine lettuce) and warm (though not freshly baked) pide. Pide is essentially chunks of slightly thick Turkish pizza dough, and it's a classic match for kebabs (unlike the store-bought pita bread that so many Turk-American restaurants favor, which is neither authentically Turkish nor particularly tasty).

Naturally, Kebab House II specializes in the much-abused/maligned döner kebab (shavings from a giant cylinder of pressed lamb that turns round as it cooks). Their version is never dry, slightly crisp, just fatty enough. I love it! Even the accompanying yogurt is far less watery than what you're served at most Turk places in the U.S.

I also recommend the milky desert puddings (they have a nice, caramely semolina variety).

The only possible misstep is Kebab House's iskender kebab (döner sauteed in butter and served over bread in a garlic-laden yogurt and tomato sauce). Not that it's bad, mind you; it's tasty for the first few bites, but it's also very heavy, too filling and sort of one-note. The tomato sauce is much too sweet. I should note that a truly stellar iskender is even fairly rare in Turkey, though.

So yeah, go support Kebab House II. It's one of the Lower East Side's great, quick treats, along with Dumpling House and Il Laboratorio de Gelato. Or settle in for a longer meal--take your time, bring your own booze and dig the wacky Turkish pop music (chances are they're rocking out to Tarkan).

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