Yalcin Aslan came to California from his homeland of Turkey to get his Master’s degree. After achieving this goal, California became his permanent home but he still missed comfort food called döner kebab, which means “turning or rotating roast”. In Turkey, döner kebab stalls are on every corner and considered Turkish fast food. You may have also heard of “shawarma” in Arabic or “gyros” in Greek. It’s the same concept with different meats and spices from their respective countries. All meats are Halal – Zabihah. Yacin’s family has been running Döner G’s in Turkey for over 25 years and decided to bring the concept to Orange County. His first location opened in 2008 in Anaheim, CA. Yacin also saw an opportunity to share this wonderful cuisine to the adventurous Irvine, CA crowd and opened his second location in November 2013. When you drive into the Crossroads shopping center, an aroma hits you. It could be mistaken for Greek, but it’s a little different. Your nose will lead you a mouth-watering aroma of “meat roasting over fire” and appeals to your primitive, carnivorous being.
Let’s take a look at some of the menu items:
Baba Ghanoush is described as “fire-roasted eggplant, delicately mixed with garlic, lemon juice, and tahini sauce and sprinkled with sourberry (sumac) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.” The light texture of the eggplant is good and a little on the chunky side. The EVOO brings out the sweetness of the eggplant. Use the pita bread to scoop and munch away. Thumbs up!
Hummus is described as “freshly made authentic Hummus served with pita bread.” It is one of the best hummus’ I’ve ever had! It’s light and full of garbanzo flavor and not too lemony, just how I like it. I love the drizzle of EVOO on top which added a little bit of richness. Thumbs up, way up!
Tabouli Salad is described as “chopped fresh parsley mixed with bulgar (crushed wheat), chopped green onion, tomato, fresh mint, spices, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.” The mint, parsley, and green onion are refreshing and really perk up this dish. The salad had a little bit too much lemon juice for my liking though. Thumbs up!
Fettush Salad is described as “a crunchy combination of freshly cut romaine lettuce, red onions, juicy tomatoes, and cucumbers, dressed with lemon juice, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. I loved this chunky vegetable medley. However, it was a little bland and could use a sprinkle of salt to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Shepherd’s Salad is described as “a combination of fresh, finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sprinkled with fresh parsley, all dressed with lemon juice, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. It has a slightly sweet flavor profile. I like the use of pita chips to add a crunch and a stand in for “croutons”. This one might be better with added meat on top.
Döner Kebab Pita Sandwich is described as “Tender beef or chicken seasoned with special herbs and spices – sliced and wrapped up in fresh and warm pita bread, served with Jajik, hummus & Doner G sauce.” The chicken is super-flavorful and tender. I love their hot sauce, not too spicy, just the right amount of heat so as to not bury the flavor. The pita has a beautiful texture, sturdy yet spongy. The Jajik sauce (yogurt sauce similar to Tzatziki sauce) adds a cool, creamy flavor. I would change the greens to just romaine lettuce without the carrots. The orange color is nice, but due to an allergy I wasn’t able to eat the sandwich as served. The beef has a smoky flavor and the texture of rehydrated beef jerky, which is not a bad thing. It ended up being a little dry. Think of it as a Turkish Cheesesteak without the cheese! Thumbs up!
Adana Kebab is described as “ground lamb meat, seasoned with special herbs and grilled to perfection and served with rice, salad, Jajik, and Döner G sauce.” You can find versions of this in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, sometimes referred to as kefta or kofta. This is one of my favorite dishes of these cuisines. Adana is a little spicier than other cuisines, which makes it even better. It has the texture of firm meat loaf, think of a hamburger patty in a hot dog/sausage-like shape instead of a disk. The herbs and spices meld well with the lamb, masking any gamey flavor or scent if you are sensitive to it. Thumbs up, way up!
Shish Kebab is described as “boneless pieces of tender beef or chicken, marinated with our distinctive seasonings, and grilled to perfection.” The beef shish kebab is tender and has a wonderful smoky/charred flavor from the grill. The chicken shish kebab is also tender and juicy and also has that great smoky/grilled flavor. Both meats were seasoned just right. Thumbs up!
Baklava is described as “rich, sweet pastry made of layers of pastry filled with chopped nuts and pistachios” I love the pistachio layer along with walnuts and almonds for a different flavor profile. The phyllo dough layers are flaky yet soaked with the sweet honey flavor that you know and love about baklava. It’s a simple and decadent way to end your meal. Thumbs up, way up!
If you are feeling adventurous, walk past the American fast food and follow you nose to Döner G. The staff is ready to answer all of your questions and feed your hunger.
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars
Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 10:30am to 9pm, Friday & Saturday from 10:30am to 9:30pm