Döner kebab, spit-roasted meat that originated in Turkey, has gained popularity across the the world. I’ve seen a recent crop of L.A. döner specialists. Many new concepts are Americanized, featuring global influences and flavors, sometimes to the meat’s detriment. In several instances, meat comes in a pre-fab cone. Thankfully, some practitioners are staying true to döner traditions, including The Kitchen @ Westwood, a restaurant that I learned about from esteemed food writer Barbara Hansen’s website TableConversation.
Huseyin Ilhan and wife Hava hail from Turkey. In 2015, the couple replaced Fresh Corn Grill just south of Westwood Village. Now you’ll find yellow and stone walls with mirrors and a prominent photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. They construct stacks of beef and chicken döner in-house even allow for an equal split of the two preparations at no extra cost ($12.95). Beef döner involves shaved top round sheets flavored with molten lamb fat. I preferred chicken döner, leg and breast meat that arrived in juicy, caramelized striations.
Each order comes with a choice of sauce. Garlic Madness, a pungent mix of garlic powder and olive oil, is chicken-friendly. Other possibilities include Veggie Blend, spicy jalapeno based Dragon’s Breath, and Mediterranean Breeze, a tzatziki-like yogurt and tahini dip. Regardless, you’ll also receive fluffy grilled pita and a choice of two sides. I opted for thick paprika-dusted hummus and tangy yogurt eggplant dip showered with parsley.