On the recommendation of this board, I went to Mangal this past Sunday afternoon (fast-food Turkish in Sunnyside, Queens Blvd just east of 46th). It was pretty good doner kebab, and only $4 for a sandwich. It was good, that nice combination of the lamb taste with the yogurt and spicy sauce. I would say that it was comparable with Yatagan on MacDougal Street in the Village, maybe a little bit better. (The vibe was fun, too. There was a soccer game on TV and a big crowd watching; couldn't tell if it was a Turkish team playing or not).
Yet, the doner kebabs I've had in NYC have not approached that Platonic level that I've experienced in a couple of trips to Berlin. This may be unfair, as Turks are probably the biggest non-German ethnic group in Berlin and their presence here is smaller, but still . . . where's the really good doner kebab? Should I be ordering it at the good non-fast food Turkish restaurants around town (Hemcin, Ali Baba, Empire Kebab)? I've best experienced it as a fast food thing, although that could be wrong (haven't made it to Sahara or Veranda yet).
One thing that makes the doner kebabs better in Berlin is the bread. They don't use pita bread, but a more substantial and better-tasting bread. Which brings me to my other complaint . . . why pita? It rarely has any taste, is a flimsy bread, and doesn't hold doner kebab or falafel fixings well. Where's the market for it?
I realize that this may veer into non-Outer Borough subject matter, so I'd be happy to hear any reactions to the doner kebab questions and suggestions.