The popularity of Doner Kebab (Or shawerma where we are from) has undeniably grown over the past few years and has given us an alternative to our typical go-to easy and quick food.
I have tried several Doner places and to be absolutely honest, they have all been “ok”. Some too oily, bland, or cut costs by maintaining a salad to meat ratio of 80:20. I heard about Doner Deli and thought of giving it a shot.
They have a handful of locations around Dubai and the Al Barsha branch had just opened and was around the corner. Perfect The place is cool with simple decor, and a mix of dark and lightly colored areas. I am not a fan of the plastic colorful tables and chairs as they remind me of cafeterias, but for a quick bite they are alright.
As we walked in the staff were super polite, greeted us and offered us any table we’d like with a lovely cheerful attitude. While at the counter, the kitchen is actually visible, so one can see the sandwiches being prepared.
The menu couldn’t be more straight forward. They serve Doner sandwiches, Doner boxes and Doner salads, with the option to opt for meals. They also have a few kids meal options, side dishes, desserts and interesting beverages but as far as food goes, they do one thing, Doner.
It was time to see if this specialty came out of experience and good food, or just blabber. Lets go!
To start things off, the classic Doner had to be the one to go for. The Doner Sandwich above had vegetables and a mixture of veal and chicken kebab with a mixture of sauces served in an open German pita bread. This was their signature sandwich.
It was pretty good. I would be lying if I would say it was significantly better or different than other Doner places, but there was one thing we all said, at about the same time; Doner Deli seemed cleaner, and the sandwiches looked, felt and tasted like it had a lot less grease, fat and oil than its competitors. Great start!
As always, the sandwich is a little hard to maneuver but one gets the hang of it right away. I also tried their passion fruit smoothie, was was pretty decent although did not have a strong passion fruit taste. I think the ratio of ingredients overpowered the passion fruit.
This is a very similar Doner sandwich with just chicken. Similar flavor but actually turned out to be a little nicer to my liking. Again, that part is subjective to people liking one flavor over the other but the sandwich itself was juicy, crunchy, with a good balance of sauce, salad and meats. Yumm.
The other type of sandwich is their flat bread, which is served in a roll. It does not look as visually appealing and appetizing as the original German pita bread. Ingredients remain the same, and was a little lighter on the bread.
The only issue I had was, it looked unappealing and it was served as lazy fast food. The sandwich was clearly wrapped and then sliced with the wrapper. Not to sure how I feel about that. Pita for me please.
Now that the sandwiches were out of the way, and we basically got a taste of the salad anyways in our sandwiches, it was time to try their Doner box. Offered in meat + fries or meat + rice (which is a different option in a Doner place) we opted to try the Chicken with Rice box. Sauces provided on the side but more on those soon.
Here, we really got to taste the raw side of the Doner Kebab. The chicken strips were popping with flavor and we got to experience the different sauces individually. Unfortunately the rice (it has peas in it too) made us wish we went with fries instead as it was extremely bland, like I literally wouldn’t know if it was rice without looking at it. I really hope they turn that around because Doner and Rice could be a great box!
Alongside the Doner box, they served the three signature sauces, which were garlic, herb yoghurt and spiced tomato. All put together gives a Doner incredible flavor but even individually they are all very nice. The Garlic was light, not too overpowering and quite creamy, the herb yoghurt was typical as the name suggests but the spiced tomato was very nice. It actually was full of flavor, a little spice and just the right consistency.
We also gave their dessert a try, but unfortunately they were mediocre. Could have passed as store bought, so not much to say there except they were nice but ordinary, supermarket slices nice.
Overall, definitely a mixed bag of feelings. The overall place is nice, the staff are polite and the menu is fairly simple. Their signature Doner sandwich is one of the best Doner sandwiches I have tried compared to rivals, but everything else on the menu had a small “but” to it.
I enjoyed the Doner sandwich but hard to say I enjoyed much else. I think they need to work on improving the small little things that affect the overall experience, and once they do that, they could easily be the best Doner place out there.
The service: Pretty straight forward quick restaurant style so there is not much interaction going on with the servers. When we reached the place was nearly empty so the service was quick, easy but I doubt the service can be of any lower standards as it is all about preparing and serving sandwiches. There were times where the server was not a 100% sure about a thing or two off the menu, she must have been new.
The value: Again, they are doing it right by setting their price point around or better than some of their competitors. I would say a full on meal, smoothie and a dessert would average around AED60, which is the general Doner average.
The Place: 6 / 10
The Service: 5.5 / 10
The Food: 5.5 / 10
Overall: 5.7 / 10
It is hard to place a conclusion for Doner Deli.. If you want to experience more than just a Doner sandwich and have dessert, I wouldn’t recommend them but if you are in a hurry or just want a Doner sandwich itself, you should give them a try.