[San Francisco, Noe Valley] Sultan's Kebab (Turkish)

Finally there are excellent cheap eats not named The Little Chihuahua in Noe Valley!

I don’t really have time to do a full writeup, but here are the essentials:

  • It’s in the former Lazeez space, but with entirely new owners (Turkish, from Istanbul).
  • It’s their third location - they are also in Danville and Pleasanton
  • It’s one of only a handful of places in the city that makes Iskender kebap. I gave that a try tonight as I’m much more familiar with the standard adana, shish, etc. kebaps. While most of their other kebap plates come with rice/salad/hummus/pita, the Iskender is served with a big portion of labneh and on a bed of what I thought were little squares of fried potatoes, but the takeout menu suggests might have actually been fried chunks of pita.
  • It’s very good! Maybe if we’re lucky the owners will start doing more exotic specials like Urfa-style liver kebap and so forth a la the old Eden’s in the Tenderloin.

Yay! Lazeez was awful. I’ll try and report back soon.

I got the the veggie platter and the Iskender kebap as takeout (Grubhub, it was Friday night and they didn’t pick up their phone).

I liked the Iskender kebap, lamb slices shaved off the vertical spit, topped with a creamy tomato sauce and mixed with what @bigwheel042 suspected was deep fried pita. As if defying physics, the pita never got soggy. Nice crunch. Meat was good, but gristly bits were spread throughout. A dimension of the tomato sauce I enjoyed and couldn’t put my finger reminded me of eating a veal parmigiana hero in NY.

On the veggie plate, the piyaz (a cold chickpea salad) and the smoky baba ghanoush were the best items. The falafel had a thick dark skin and bright green center, and lacked the garlicky flavor and more yielding shell I prefer. Chickpeas were the dominant flavor in the gritty hummus. Overall I prefer the similar plates at Goood Frikin Chicken or Old Jerusalem, or the impossibly smooth Lemon Hummus at Whole Foods.

@bigwheel042 what do you think of Tuba?

Only been to Tuba once, years ago. My memory was that it was a good experience, just haven’t been back for whatever reason.

Having tried Sultan’s Kebab three times now, my sense is that the menu might be uneven, in part owing to the pressure to conform to popular ideas of what “Middle Eastern” restaurants are supposed to serve. I’m not terribly surprised the hummus here is mediocre - it’s not really something I think of as a classic Turkish meze, and especially not in the Istanbul region. That goes triple for falafel, which I’d avoid as a rule at any Turkish place.

I had an Adana kebap in a takeout order that I felt was a bit over-charred, and the side salads have been pretty forgettable. But their chicken and lamb off the vertical spit have been very good across all three visits. The “casserole” on the menu is kind of intriguing, and I still need to try most of the other vegetarian meze to see if those are better.