Where to find Hong Kong’s most delicious post-drink kebabs (we ate them sober just for you)
Our intrepid reporters hit the party districts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai and Central in a quest to find the city’s best kebab. From two stars to five, here are their verdicts on 11 lamb wraps
Tender meat mixed with salad, smothered in sauce and wrapped in a warm carb cocoon: the trusty kebab ticks all the boxes for a tasty booze sponge after a night on the town. For a fair comparison, we opt for medium-spicy lamb wraps all round. Let the gorging begin.
27 Kebab House Turkish Restaurant
Location, location, location: a good corner spot with a buzzy vibe and kiosk-style layout are the best qualities of this place. The kebab didn’t tick many boxes: it was too hot to hold. Even worse, we discovered a significant thread of gristle running through the lamb, which had been cut from the burner then tossed onto a flat grill to fry. It was also loosely wrapped, spilling ingredients, and had an odd aftertaste of burned, dried mixed herbs. A saving grace was the generous amount of fresh salad.
27 Hollywood Road, SoHo, tel: 2795 2727 (branches in Tsim Sha Tsui and Sheung Wan)
The newest kebab on the block, with seating on two floors and a takeaway counter at ground level,this looks the least like a kebab shop. It also serves the most expensive kebab we tried, and tasted the least like one. The meat was tightly packed, mince-like and tasted more like corned beef. The only salad in our wrap was a few large diced pieces of tomato and cucumber, and the sauce was barely evident. On the flier is a glossary of terms including ktir tayeb – that’s Arabic for delicious, but sadly we didn’t have any reason to use it.
10 Shelley Street, SoHo, tel: 2111 2284
Three words: simply the best. Real flatbread freshly warmed in an oven, just the right amount of juicy, tender lamb in a flavourful sauce, and expertly wrapped. At this place the whole eating experience was seamless: not one drip of sauce, not one piece of filling falling out, and it was reasonably priced – this is the place to get your kebab fix in Central. The menu featured a number of other enticing Lebanese dishes. We’ll be back.
Lyndhurst Building, 23-39 Lyndhurst Terrace, tel: 2480 5338
Ali Baba Kebab – Pizza
Despite its rather rough-and-ready interior, Ali Baba (not the owner of the South China Morning Post) served up a kebab that delivered where it mattered: taste. A well-wrapped truncheon, stuffed with tender meat and crisp salad, and with just enough spicy sauce to tingle the taste buds, the lamb doner was a good discovery. Ideally situated in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, it’s a good shout for a post-pint nibble.
17 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2116 2084
Tava Turkish & Mediterranean
Opting to sit upstairs was one of the best decisions of the night. The first-floor seating area at this place (across the road from the Fringe Club) has large windows which are great for people-watching. Unfortunately, the kebab is wrapped not in foil but paper, which stuck to the bread, so the first minute was spent trying to separate it. Bits of paper also ended up in the mouth, which was a shame because the lamb was rich in flavour and the lettuce and tomato were fresh and crisp. Swapping the paper for foil would have added a point to the score.
1/F, 31 Wyndham Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2873 3384
Istanbul Turkish Kebabs and Grills
Subtle Turkish touches – mosaic plates on the walls and framed pictures of national landmarks – give this place an authentic vibe. There’s no lamb kebab on the menu but you can switch the beef doner to lamb. It’s reasonably priced, the meat was tender enough – with just a couple of dry edges – and it had a nice subtle kick of chilli. However, the packing let this doner down. It was wrapped so loosely that most of the meat, lettuce and a token wedge of tomato fell onto the plate (and some onto a lap). The pita bread was also a tad anaemic. On the plus side, the staff are super friendly, and the “Stay Calm and Eat a Kebab” T-shirt was a fun touch.
177-179 Wan Chai Road, tel: 2573 9101
Istanbul Express Turkish Restaurant
Despite being early on a week night, this place had a buzz: Middle Eastern music, mosaic tiles on the walls (or adhesive plastic lino), a mural of an Istanbul street scene by “a famous Turkish artist”, and a portrait of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, mounted proudly on the wall. But flag-waving aside, did the kebab live up to all the patriotic hype? We’re happy to say, yes it did. The lamb was super juicy and full of flavour – in a generous chunky portion – with a fair amount of salad, and all encased in a cooked-just-right pita. If there was any gripe, it would be that the salad had too much onion.
66 Lockhart Road, tel: 2865 0066
Ebeneezer’s has been serving kebabs in the city since 1993, and that’s a good thing because they’re pretty tasty. In fact they have almost become Hong Kong’s after-beers kebab gold standard. The roasted lamb was tender and the pita bread toasted to give just the right amount of crunch. No gristle? Check. No contents spilling out onto the lap? Just a bit. Tasty? Check! Long opening hours (daily from 10am-6am) are a big hint that this joint is popular with the Wan Chai party crowd.
52 Lockhart Road, tel: 2157 0009 (Many other branches across Hong Kong)
TSIM SHA TSUI
Bismillah Kebab House
There’s nothing fancy about Bismillah Kebab House (Bismillah is Arabic for “In the name of God” and is the first word in the Koran, in case you’re wondering), a small hole-in-the wall joint dishing up a little slice of Turkey – and a tasty slice at that. The kebab hit the jackpot and not just because it was wallet-friendly. Tender meat packed into a tight and toasted pita was served by friendly staff. Pull up a chair and (literally) watch the world go by from this balcony space overlooking the teeming activity on the ground floor of Chungking Mansions.
Shop 75, 1/F Chungking Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Road, tel: 2722 5733
New Istanbul Kebab
There’s always something fun about eating al fresco-cum-alleyway but our plan for a pleasant kebab experience was foiled by, well, foil! The meat stuck to the silvery wrap, making opening it way too labour-intensive. While the lamb gets the thumbs up – flavoursome and plentiful – it was let down by the bits falling out. And while there were generous servings of crunchy lettuce and tomato, the bread was chewy and undercooked. We also got mint yogurt sauce, which might be a great sauce with lamb, but we did ask for medium spicy.
1-3 Hart Avenue, tel: 2721 6566
Turkish Kebab Hong Kong
With photos of Istanbul’s famous Maiden’s Tower and the rich glaze of Iznik ceramics glowing on the walls, this place goes all out to make customers feel as though they’re dining in Turkey. Sadly the kebab failed to meet the high standards of Turkish cuisine: undercooked bread encased dry and fatty meat that was crying out for more sauce. And no matter how you held it, the contents just kept on spewing out.
Dolford Mansion, 1-3 Chatham Court, tel: 2606 7038