Tatar Salim is one of the marvels of Turkish food service. It’s simple, tasty and bloody fast. Tatar Salim is not necessarily a tourist destination, it’s just a relatively decent and efficient döner shop without the shabbiness of street sellers.
The original place in Ataşehir tends to host lunch break for white-collar crew. A quick, swift and rich lunch. Nothing more nothing less, one that calls for a cup of Turkish coffee afterwards to rid the meat snooze. The smaller spot in the Kadıköy Fish Market doesn’t carry the same energy and sticks out like a sore thumb with its sparkly turquoise tiles among the more established shops and their unassuming and uniform aesthetic.
What to order:
Tatar Salim makes juicy, hand-cut, paper-thin döner. The standard for good quality döner is precisely these three. The main options for döner are “porsiyon” (portion) which comes on a bed of buttery rice with a side of pickles, salad and occasionally French fries; or “dürüm” döner, lettuce and tomatoes (and fries in lesser establishments) in a thin lavash.
What to know:
Döner kebap is probably among the top three recent gastronomical exports of Turkey (the other two being baklava and Turkish delight). Döner kebap is slices of spiced meat and fat trimmings stacked on top of each other in a vertical rotisserie. While the horizontal meat rotisserie (cağ kebabı) was prevalent in the Ottoman Empire, döner kebap is a relatively new invention with the earliest referenced erection of the rotisserie dating to 1850s Istanbul. “Döner” means “turning” and the “kebap” part can be omitted when ordering.
While döner is well known around the world thanks to Turkish immigrants in Germany popularising the dish as a staple street food item, the Berlin döner is different from its ancestor. NO SAUCE is spilt on the meat, masks the taste or diluting the fatty juices dripping from the thin leaves of meat. The wrap version is in a dusty flour tortilla, not a puffy pita. And it’s not filled to the brim with shredded lettuce and salad medley. The wrap should enclose some lettuce and tomato slices at most to give body, freshness and textural difference.