Memo: great doner kebap available in Brooklyn.

Those of you who read my first doner kebap article will recall how much I missed being able to walk to the nearest street corner and devour a lunch-sized portion of chicken or lamb mounted on bread with sauce.  What I didn’t mention in that article was that I can conservatively estimate about a third of those doners (that’s what we called them!) were eaten as hangover reducers: the greasy meat, bread, and hot sauce combination was my original Advil, back when drinking was a multiple-day-a-week enterprise.

Why do I mention this?  My roommate and I had a party last Friday night, and when my girlfriend and I rolled out of bed Saturday morning, we (and he) were definitely feeling bent. While sitting on the couch, lamenting, I had a brilliant plan: to visit Sietsema’s number one cheap eats destination, Memo, at 1821 Kings Highway.  After convincing my roommate that it wasn’t a terrible idea to get on the Q train, we set off for Atlantic Avenue station.

We found Memo to be one of several restaurants on a commercial strip that stretched from the Q tracks to Ocean Avenue (and to Coney Island Avenue on the other side).  As Sietsema mentions, Memo is certainly humble – a few tables, a small counter, and not nearly enough space, considering how many people filtered in and out while we were there.  I guess it’s not surprising – doner kebap is inevitably a portable food, and most of the places I ate doner in Europe had counters, at best.

Two vertical spits with enormous hunks of meat dominate the front area – both chicken and lamb are offered here, and roasted correctly – unlike McDougal St.’s Yatgan, which barely seems to cook theirs at all in order not to ever have to waste any, the heat is turned up.  If no customers arrive, they’ll still have to cut the meat off – this is one of the ways to tell a good doner place from a bad one, or at least a popular one from an unpopular one.  But the high-temperature cooking, particularly with very fatty ground lamb, makes all the difference.

What differentiates Memo from my European doner adventures is the sheer enormity of the sandwich.  No lie, the thing is at least twice as big as any others I’ve seen – you’ll need two hands and a stack of napkins.  I ordered the mixed lamb and chicken on home bread – for $6.50, it could definitely feed two, if you don’t mind passing a messy sandwich back and forth.  About the bread – Memo offers both regular pita and “home bread” – the latter is the only kind I saw ordered, and it’s half a loaf of flat, dense Uzbek-style bread that’s perfect for soaking up all of the sauce and grease, for better and for worse.  I can’t imagine not ordering it, but there’s always a charlatan somewhere who wants store-bought pita.

Of the two meats, I actually preferred the chicken, but I think that’s because the lamb and chicken flavors don’t mix exceedingly well.  I don’t think I ever saw a place in Europe with both kinds of meat, and I certainly never had a doner with both kinds, so I wonder if this is a Brooklyn invention.  Sauces are of the standard white yogurt and red spicy varieties – I had both, in addition to lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Memo might not be the absolute best doner kebap I’ve ever had, but it’s hard to be certain, since it’s competing mostly against distant memories (almost four years since I was in Graz – astonishing).  At any rate, I’m glad delicious doner is once again just a train ride away – a longer distance than when I lived in Europe, but certainly shorter and cheaper than a plane there.  And for those hangover days, there’s nothing better.


Filed under NYC

2 responses to “Memo: great doner kebap available in Brooklyn.

  1. dude that sounds good, can you ship one to me like in Fools Rush In, with Matthew Perry and Salma hayek? im a doner man as well, though im a beef guy with barbq sauce, aussie style. lets def hit that place up when i get back to NY. _matt

  2. Did you just reference a Matthew Perry movie? I hope to god you’re not serious – speaking japanese all the damn time must be making you crazy.

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