London is officially the kebab capital, and doner you dare knock it.
The third annual British Kebab Awards were held near Waterloo last night, and it’s fair to say London gave the competition a right grilling.
Of the non-regional categories, 34 of the 60 shortlisted businesses fell within greater London, with an unsurprisingly high concentration in the Green Lanes and Stoke Newington areas of north east London. Across the country, more than 2,000 shops and restaurants were nominated.
The award for best value kebab restaurant went to Selale on Green Lanes where a doner with rice and salad costs £6, while Stone Cave on Kingsland Road was runner-up. Pivaz on Hackney’s Chatsworth Road won best newcomer, with by Diyarbakir Kitchen on Green Lanes coming second. Much-loved Stoke Newington institution Super Ocakbasi was named London’s best takeaway kebab, with Archway Kebab House just behind it.
Despite dominating the shortlist for best fine-dining kebab restaurant (they exist, apparently) we just about lost out to Essex. It may be a pitta we didn’t win, but we’ll take solace in the fact that Sheesh in Chigwell is a stone’s throw from the Central line. In second place was Sarastro in Covent Garden, while Hazev in Canary Wharf, Levant in Marylebone, and Tas in Waterloo also made the shortlist.
Haci Akdogan from Haz restaurant in St Paul’s was named best chef.
The awards were founded in 2013 by Ibrahim Dogus, who is also director of the Centre for Turkey Studies. The aim is to highlight the impressive £2.2 billion contribution kebab businesses make annually to the economy and promote the humble kebab as a dish to be taken seriously, rather than just something to stuff in your face after a night on the booze.
It's not just these awards which are pushing us to look at kebabs in a new light. If newly opened ‘posh kebab shop’ Chifafa in Clerkenwell and the long queues outside it are anything to go by, kebabs could be set for a facelift in 2015. Makes a difference from an off-your-face-lift, we guess.