Best Istanbul is aptly-named, as they serve some of the city's best pide, as well as doner served in various styles. This multi-level location in Kensington is their second — their first is located near Keele and Wilson.
Berlin doner ($10.99) is essentially one of several ways to have Best Istanbul's doner, which is typically marinated for a day and shaved fresh off the spit, the others being a more classic Turkish doner Istanbul wrap or plates.
No matter what sandwich or wrap you get, though, all breads are made in house. The Berlin doner comes on a puffier pide bread topped with sesame seeds.
We choose chicken doner over beef, marinated with some tomato paste for colour and juiciness.
Similar to shawarma, the meat is nicely caramelized on the outside, set off by an overload of crunchy lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickles, fries and red cabbage, plus some house sauces: hot sauce and a tangy ranch.
It seems intimidating at first but that's the way Berlin doner sandwiches should be, and it actually smashes down after a bit so it's totally manageable, the sturdy bread doing its best to keep all that filling in place.
Try a mixed pide ($15.99) to get a little of every variety they offer: chicken and beef doner, spinach and cheese, and sujuk sausage.
All these toppings are folded into a thin flatbread brushed with butter and scattered with sesame for an extra flavourful crust, the best bits being where caramelized meats hide under the crispy edges.
Iskender ($17.99) is kind of like a different take on doner, the beef marinated for a day in milk, cream and salt and shaved off the spit.
For this dish, it's combined with rustically chopped spongy pide bread and slathered in melted butter and a comforting warm tomato sauce, accompanied by a heap of cooling, sour yogurt.
The harmony of the meat, tomato sauce and yogurt flavours keeps me coming back for another bite.
Kunefe ($5.99) is one of several house desserts, a sort of cheesy pastry soaked in syrup and topped with pistachio. There's also baklava and rice pudding ($4.99).
Though there are a scant nine stools in the sunny downstairs takeout area, head upstairs to get to the spacious dining room seating about 45.