Taking a walk down just a few blocks of Hastings Street, you’ll find everything from an East Indian restaurant to a French bistro. And then, wedged between Valley Bakery and a jewelry store is Turkish Donair. I didn’t think much of it as I walked past it several times, until one day I walked past during a lunch rush and saw the lineup out the door. I had to see what this place was all about.
The main part of the menu is quite simple. You choose between beef, chicken and lamb and then you choose between six different topping combinations. There are other items on the side menus, like a platter rather than a wrap, but these donairs are the real “meat” of the menu (bad pun intended).
Unlike some other donair places that pre-slice the meat and place them on warming trays, Turkish Donair sticks to its shawarma roots. All three meats stay on that slow-roasting spindle. Yes, a microwave is used to briefly warm the pita bread, but that’s mostly forgivable.
The donairs are available in small or large, with the latter coming at about a $2 premium. You can see the size difference in the image above. For lunch, most people will likely be satisfied with the small, but that’s your call.
This is the small Lebanese lamb. Along with the lamb, you get tomatoes, onion, lettuce, tabbouleh, hommous, and tzatziki. Hot sauce is optional; interestingly, Turkish Donair uses Sriracha sauce, which is more commonly associated with Vietnamese or Thai cuisine. The seasoning on the lamb was great, offering just the right “herby” flavour profile.
This is the large Hawaiian chicken. You get tomatoes, onion, lettuce, pineapple, and sweet sauce. The pineapple and sweet sauce really come through, working very well with the slightly burnt chicken. I feel the Hawaiian is best suited for chicken and the sweetness wouldn’t work quite as well with lamb or beef.
With prices starting at about five dollars, Turkish Donair offers an affordable and filling lunch that’ll have you coming back for more. Seating is quite minimal–there are about five tables, plus a small window-side counter–so you’ll likely get your donair to go… which is fine, since it’s conveniently wrapped up for on-the-go enjoyment.
I didn’t catch his name, but the owner-operator of Turkish Donair is almost as happy as Happy Brian from Happy Pho too. You might even say he is Brian’s Turkish cousin. He refers to people as “my friend” and even though it’s set up as a fast food establishment (he’s a one-man show), he’ll usually tell you to “go ahead and eat first. You pay me later.”