Week 32 : Gel Gör & Imren Grill (Turkey)

A happy confluence of factors led to us unintentionally reviewing Turkish food on the day of the Turkish general election. We had that week moved to Neukolln, one of the most Turkish areas of Berlin and we wanted to stay local and cheap and so Turkish food therefore seemed like a great option for this week’s blog. After we had decided upon this, I received a text from a friend inviting me to Turkish election party and we decided indeed that Sunday 7th June was most definitely fated to be Turkish day.

Kofte teller

Kofte teller

I started researching where we could find the best Turkish restaurants in the area and came upon a bit of a blank. The names Hasir, Defne and Adana kept coming up on the lists of supposed best restaurants but when you started looking at the reviews they all seemed somewhat lacking and a bit expensive. However, when you googled ‘Turkish food’, then the results were much more encouraging with lots of different highly rated options coming up in the search. It seemed that if you want good Turkish food in Berlin then the place to do so is not in a fancy sit -down restaurant but in a busy street imbiss which makes sense considering that Berlin is the home of the Döner Kebab. We decided upon not one but two options in our neigbourhood to try two different types of street food; kofte and doner.

meat close up

meat close up

As we set out on a very warm Sunday afternoon you could feel that something was up in the atmosphere, Turkish and Kurdish flags seemed more prominent and there were lots of cars driving up an down beeping their horns (although this could have also equally been because of a Turkish wedding). We started our Turkish street food odyssey at a favourite of ours; Gel Gör on Kottbusser Damm which supposedly (and in our opinion) serves the best kofte in Berlin. In the spirit of the blog we decided to try something different than the usual kofte halloumi in bread that has become a lunchtime staple. We ordered an Adana and Kofte teller, Adana is a specialty of the Adana region of Turkey, a long thin skewer of lamb flavoured with chilli and sumac, Kofte are smaller skewers of spiced and marinated calf and lamb meat. The teller (plate) came with soft pide bread and lots of different side salads and sauce. As usual for this place, the taste was fresh and delicious. They cook their food on coals which makes a lot of difference to other similar kofte imbiss in Berlin and the salad has lots of herbs and lemon juice which gives it a vibrant fresh taste.

Gel Gor

Gel Gor

After our teller we went to meet our friends who were at a bar in Kreuzberg awaiting the election results to see whether the HDP (People’s Democratic Party – Kurdish and leftists) had managed to reach the 10% threshold for parliament in order to prevent the single party president Erdogan from achieving a two thirds majority and changing the constitution. Our friends were delighted when the initial results came in to show that the HDP had managed to get 12% of the seats and that Erdogans party had lost a lot of support since the last election. We left them to their celebrations and went off for our second Turkish meal of the day.

view from Klunkerkranich

view from Klunkerkranich

Imren’s is a classic Turkish snack bar on Karl Marx Strasse in the heart of Neukolln and also just happens to be across the road from one of our favourite bars in Berlin, Klunkerkranich, a bar on top of a multistory carpark with the best view in Berlin. After a few beers there we were super hungry and ready for Döner at Imren’s. We chose a classic Döner kebab and a Döner teller. The meat was really good, succulent with lots of flavour, and the sauce was – hurrah -genuinely scharf (hot)! The place was ugly inside but absolutely packed full of Turkish people and other Neukolln residents (hipsters) at 9pm on a Sunday.

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Imren's Doner

Imren’s Doner

The best part of the day came later though, when we went to meet my Turkish friend Belma at Kottbusser Tor where an impromptu Kurdish party was taking place to celebrate the success of the HDP. The street was filled with men dancing and women cooking kofte (sadly we were full) and everyone was jubilant. The party moved inside into a next door queer bar Sudblock where a DJ pumped out Kurdish popular music and men and women danced together round and round in circles, much to the delight and amusement of some of the more regular clientele. When we left at 11pm the party was in full swing and we felt very pleased to have been part of something historical which was truly multicultural and transnational and uniquely Berlin in nature.

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Belma and Richard celebrating

celebrating HDP's momentous gains

celebrating HDP’s momentous gains