Leith Walk in Edinburgh is famous for little, unless you count a bit part in Trainspotting, a mention in a Proclaimers song, a reputation for flying pub furniture, broken pub windows, boarded up shops and drug deaths. In among the colourful culture that is Leith are some very fine chippies and cafes, the ‘legendary’ Valvona & Crolla and the Best Kebab House. I’m assured – by two sources – that the Best Kebab House lives up to its name. I’m promised it serves one of Edinburgh’s finest examples of BritTurk-hybrid nightfood.
Doner kebabs, like the £4.20 example pictured above, are as British as Chicken tikka massala. It’s a vertical rottisserie style lamb amalgam served with fresh veggies inside a heated pitta bread with a splodge of chilli sauce. Kebabs are traditionally gobbled, smeared, squeezed and dripped along streets near pubs and are particularly popular from 11:30pm onwards. Kebabs are streetfood, or at least food that’s eaten on streets. Telltale signs of ‘doing a kebab’ include a trail of chilli sauce, red cabbage, tomatoes, soggy napkins and discarded polystyrene boxes. Which is why I feel a total fake. This is my first ever daylight kebab.
Sin of sins, I take it home. It’s also (probably) the only kebab I’ve
ever purchased without having stepped inside a pub beforehand. Don’t
believe the salad. This kebab – I ordered the small size, but it’s way
big – is total stodge.
A lack of alcohol doesn’t help my enjoyment. I used to love these things. This is my first kebab encounter in maybe ten years and it’s not going down well. "One too many noodle soups and you may turn" they said. I think they were right. I’m told the chicken kebab is *the one* to go for here and I’ll give it a go next time I’m back. For now, this is my last early evening meal in the UK and it’s not a good one. Back in Saigon soon. Noodles, fish sauce, snails, dogs, rats and pig’s uterus… real food. At last. Can’t wait. Meanwhile the BBC has a list of the World’s best kebab shops. And the humble kebab is listed on one of 50 things you should eat before you die.