The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: Sultan Kebab

Otto Turkish Street Food Brings Doner Kebab to Charlottesville

A Turkish place just off the downtown mall owned by “Turkish natives . . . who . . . met while working at the Clifton Inn.” Sound familiar?

Well, now there’s another one. Otto Turkish Street Food opens today at 111 West Water Street, most recently home to Modern Nosh. With an outstanding Turkish restaurant just a stone’s throw away — also opened by Clifton Inn alum — some may wonder what sets Otto apart. In a word, doner.

Doner kebab is beloved in many parts of the world — Germany alone eats more than 2 million per day. Dating back two centuries to the Ottoman empire, the dish of meat cooked on a vertical spit is the ancestor of the gyro in Greece, shawarma in the Middle East, and tacos al pastor in Mexico.

Much to the dismay of fans of doner on a spit, though, there’s none in Charlottesville. With Otto, Turkish natives Ali Sevindi and Haldun Turgay seek to fill that void. (Sultan Kebab serves a doner kebab variation cooked on the grill.) Graduates of Hospitality and Business School, Sevindi and Turgay came to the United States in 2013 and met while working at Clifton Inn, where Sevindi was the Food and Beverage Manager. More recently, they worked together at Oakhurst Inn.

With a background in fine dining, Sevindi and Turgay had long imagined they would open a high end restaurant together. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they shifted to something more affordable. For that, they turned to Turkey’s beloved street food, doner kebab, which they thought would lend itself well to a fast casual concept. After months of research and practice, they seem to have it down.

They start with three cuts of beef – brisket, chuck, and sirloin – which they marinate in minced onions, salt, and pepper. Next, they stack slabs of the beef high on a vertical rotisserie, which chars the outer layer brown with flavor, while the interior stays moist. To serve, they shave off thin slices by cutting vertically down the exterior. There is also a chicken doner made from slabs of breast and thigh, shaved the same way.

The menu offers three ways to enjoy doner – wrap, bowl, or sandwich — along with a choice of Turkish toppings and sauces, like sumac onions, hummus, tzatziki, and esme, a Turkish red pepper paste. Sevindi’s favorite is a sandwich stuffed in fluffy, house-made pita bread.

There is also house-made falafel, likewise available as a sandwich, wrap or bowl.

So, what do Sultan Kebab’s owners think about the upstart down the street?

They are thrilled. Close friends of Sevindi and Turgay, Sultan Kebab’s owners even helped them launch their new restaurant. Who wouldn’t want doner kebab on a spit nearby?

Starting Friday December 4, Otto is open daily from 11am – 9pm.

 

 

Five Finds on Friday: Tiffany Nguyen

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Tiffany Nguyen. A Charlottesville food lover since 2008 and mother of four, Nguyen is pictured here with her husband Luan, co-founder of the Charlottesville start-up Braid.

In celebration of the Culture of Takeout, all autumn long Five Finds on Friday features readers selected at random in a weekly drawing. Also part of the prize is a $100 restaurant gift certificate, like Nguyen’s to Lampo. Check back Monday to enter next week’s drawing, which includes a $100 gift certificate to Ivy Inn.

Nguyen’s favorites from the Culture of Takeout:

1) Porchetta from Lampo. “Really, we love almost everything on the Lampo menu – Olives! Negroni! Hellboy! Oh my! However, a consistent order for me is the meaty sandwich paired with greens. It offers a balance I find hard to resist.”

2) Oxtail (Friday) from Pearl Island Cafe. “If you haven’t tried this, it’s a must: the flavors, fall-off-the-bone saucy goodness with some delicious plantains. Again, another restaurant where you cannot go wrong with anything from their menu.”

3) Manti from Sultan Kebab. “We first learned of this then-off-menu item from friends a couple years ago, and now we are hooked. Perfectly sized dumplings in a tangy yogurt sauce with a hot oil that offers just a small kick is a taste that I cannot recreate at home, and therefore a perfect option for takeout.”

4) Mochiko Chicken Platter with Watercress and Poke from Mochiko. “It’s hard to beat a generous portion of freshly and perfectly fried small bites of chicken with well seasoned greens and rice for around $10. I love to splurge a little and add poke as a side, and I never regret it.”

5) Paella from MAS. “At home date night felt extra special with a tasty paella that has smoky flavors, myriad of seafood, and plenty to fill you up. Add the sangria, and you almost forget you’re not eating out. Almost.”

Sultan Kebab Auction: Ziyafet for 50

Sultan Kebab

Here is your chance to experience Sultan Kebab like you never have before, while helping to feed the area’s hungry: The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions. Along with all of the other restaurants in The Charlottesville 29, Sultan Kebab has created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for whoever pledges the highest donation to The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Thanks to the generosity of Sultan Kebab, Blenheim Vineyards, and Potter’s Craft Cider, the entire winning bid goes directly to the food bank. And, thanks to the efficiency of the food bank, each dollar donated creates four meals for the area’s hungry.

The Sultan Kebab signature experience for The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions:

Ziyafet for 50 

The best way to enjoy Turkish cuisine is a ziyafet: a massive Turkish feast. The winner of  the Sultan Kebab auction will enjoy a feast for up to fifty guests in their own home, with plenty of mezze, kebabs, and other Turkish delights. The winner may select their own dishes, or leave it to Sultan Kebab to create the feast, including even some traditional off-menu Turkish dishes chosen by owners Deniz Dikmen and Serhat Peker.

To accompany the feast will be contributions from two of our area’s favorite producers of adult beverages. Blenheim Vineyards will provide two cases of wine (24 bottles), paired with the feast by winemaker Kirsty Harmon. And, Potter’s Craft Cider will provide two cases of cider (24 bottles), paired with the feast by Potter’s cider makers.

It’s the ultimate Sultan Kebab dining experience: a Ziyafet for 50.

Note: The auction winner will schedule the experience at a mutually convenient time with Sultan Kebab.

Bidding

Bidding has ended for the Sultan Kebab experience. Winning bid: $2,800

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