Kebab Pizza

A few weeks ago, a Swedish friend contacted me to tell me that she couldn’t believe that we never had discussed kebab pizza. I’m sure that I had discussed both of these foods with her, but in complete isolation. Someone in Sweden has popularised the notion of combining two of the world’s disparate s into something loosely obscene but nonetheless popular in Scandinavia. The photo that I saw looked more like an actual kebab only served flat. Maybe someone in Sweden decided that kebabs needed to be shared in an equitable manner; there is no way to slice a rolled kebab once the meat is removed from the rotating platform.

Kebab pizza

Within a few days of becoming kebab-pizza aware, I discovered that a local pizza joint cooks kebab pizza without me having to con them into it on behalf of a drunken homesick Swede (above pizza).

This version is pizza base, tomato paste, lamb kebab meat, red onion and finished with a generous spray of tzatziki.

Spotted at the sacrilicious Mama Theresa’s, 587 Barkly St, Footscray, VIC, 3011 (Note, March 2011: Mama Theresa’s is now closed. No kebab pizza for you.)

The last ditch

Little India Market, Kuala Lumpur
Saturday night market in Little India, Kuala Lumpur

If you could choose your last meal in a country, what would it be?

It’s a much more concrete question than some imagined last supper: unless you’re on death row or about to commit suicide then chances are you’ll have no power over the menu for your last meal, making it a question barely worth mooting as often as it is mooted. Most people who are executed don’t get any choice (contrary to the American myth) and being on your death bed also tends not to elevate the appetite. What the “last supper” question is really asking is “what is the best that you’ve already eaten?” from which the questioner is meant to discern the palate of the questioned or at least receive an answer pre-fried in nostalgia.

As for a last meal in Malaysia, what I’d do is bury myself neck-deep in a crowd and eat whatever the locals are chowing down upon, preferably in an open air environment.

Which is what I did.

The Saturday night market in ’s Little India could not be more packed without the crowd trampling each other to death ensuring that some in their midst had died whilst consuming their last meal. The food draws ecumenically from ’s faiths making it a great destination to either bone up on your knowledge of regional specialties or revisit the greatest hits of your time in Malaysia. There is also a great deal of street food that seems to be of questionable provenance, by far the most dangerous of meals.

Roti tarbus

Witness roti tarbus, a spicy Sloppy Joe made from a sweet white bun stuffed with minced, chilli-infused meat and wrapped entirely in a thin layer of fried egg.

Roti Tarbus

Once again, Asia seems to be at the forefront of perfecting variations on American classics. The mix of chilli and fried egg is one of the world’s great flavour combinations in a one handed food.

roti kebab

Roti kebab is kebab meat fresh from the rotating pole, served up in a sweet bun topped with a squirt of commercial mayonnaise and a dose of barbecue sauce. Saccharine and squishy.

Kuala Lumpur Fried Chicken

Fried chicken gets the stringy-looking outer coating from shreds of galangal, that lesser, woodier cousin of ginger; and is served in Styrofoam clamshells to be eaten elsewhere.

laksa assam

On the more traditional front, this stall is among the handful of street vendors outside of Penang to be serving Penang-style assam laksa, doling out both bowls and thin plastic bags. This version was tartly sour and thin but judging from the crowd and the near impossibility of procuring a seat on the communal tables behind the stall, this is the way that Kuala Lumpurites like it.

With a full stomach, I left Malaysia on the bus to Singapore, then onto Tiger Airways redeye to Melbourne, Australia via Darwin.

After almost three years, I’m home and it’s weird.

Banh Mi Doner Kebab

I’ve had many a conversation with family and friends whether it is possible to combine the two of the world’s perfect foods, laksa and souvlaki, into a single ideal entity – souvlaksa – but still have not worked out the mechanics of keeping a noodle soup/garlic sauce mixture contained within a pita without resorting to either gel or foam. Herve This has not returned my rambling, incoherent emails. It was with much interest that I approached the banh mi doner kebab, imagining that somewhere in Hanoi, somebody else has been thinking along similar and no less ambitious lines.

banh mi doner kebab

Their crisp white toque was almost as impressive and bewildering as their rotating elephant’s foot of miscellaneous kebab meat. I’m still unsure what Germany’s greatest man of letters has to do with it at all but it seems to serve as an appropriately Faustian warning towards those who choose to sell their soul to street side meat barbecue.


The end product was just an average kebab, pork being the rotating meat in question. None of the banh mi’s freshness or crunch but with the addition of recently pickled red cabbage and mayonnaise.

Location: Banh Mi Doner Kebab joints are coincidentally located next to where foreigners in Hanoi do vast amounts of drinking: at the “Bia Hoi Corner” (Corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen) in the Old Quarter.