Kebabs are usually a post-pub affair, but a new city restaurant is turning that ritual on its head.
Döner Haus will open its doors tonight in High Street West and is thought to be the UK’s first restaurant specialising in doner kebabs.
Owner Sanj Sanghera said: “Although there are a couple of sit-in restaurants that specialise in gourmet kebabs, we believe this is the first one in the UK for doner kebabs.”
After three months of renovations, the German-inspired eatery has opened in the former Papadoms site in the Limelight Leisure Complex in Sunniside.
Sanj also ran Papadoms, which served Punjabi-style street food, but said he decided to change his business model to one more suited to the area.
He said: “We really like the location here and although we did have some people who loved the Papadoms concept, not everyone wanted to sit and have an Indian meal before going to the cinema or going out, they seem to want something quicker and more easily accessible.
“In the eighteen months we operated as Papadoms we listened to what people wanted and took that on board.
“We thought about other ideas, such as burgers and pizzas, but there are plenty of places in Sunderland doing that and chicken wouldn’t have worked because we’re right next to Nando’s.
“We tried to come up with something a bit quirkier, which is how we decided on kebabs.”
The team went on a culinary research trip to Berlin in Germany where Turkish doner kebabs are a firm favourite, a foreign food that’s been adopted like pizza is in New York.
Sanj said: “We wanted to find out why the German style of kebabs were so different to the ones we eat in this country. You eat kebabs here and never really feel nourished but you do with the German ones, and it’s down to the quality of the meat and bread.”
Back home, the businessman liaised with a number of bakeries and meat suppliers to recreate the German style of kebeb. The doner kebab meat, carved from a robotic doner machine, will be a beef and turkey mix, which will be served in either Turkish pide bread or fladenbrot, a type of toasted bread
A range of chicken kebabs and platters will also be available for lunch and evening meals.
He said: “Most doner kebabs served in takeaways have around 35 percent meat, but ours are 85 percent lean meat with the remaining 15 percent made up of fats and spices to get the right balance of juices and flavours. It means people don’t have to feel guilty about eating a kebab, because this version is a lot healthier.
Drinks served in the bar will include German steins and bottles, including Löwenbräu and Spaten Helles, which are set to prove particularly popular when the new restaurant celebrates Oktoberfest later in the year.
Sanj, who is in the process of opening a Papadoms in Bradford and Newcastle, hopes Döner Haus will prove successful in Sunderland and will spawn a national chain.