A new sensation on the Brooklyn dining scene, Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab wows.
An innovative fusion of two cuisines, Kotti — which currently serves customers weekdays in the Industry City Food Hall, and on weekends at Smorgasburg — utilizes traditional Turkish döner (marinated, grilled chicken served on a plate in its country of origin) and incredible handmade Turkish lavash or pide bread with a flavor and texture that are out of this world, and creates sandwiches that reflect the fast-paced lifestyle of West Berlin where one of the two owners of the eatery grew up.
The result is mouthwateringly good. And, that’s no surprise. After marinating for 12 to 18 hours, the chicken is cooked on a vertical spit, so the fat drips off, and is served with a host of good things — among them, roasted vegetables and salad, including a lightly pickled red cabbage slaw, as well as crumbled feta cheese and two sauces — a gently spicy red harissa- based chili sauce and a cooling and delicious garlic and dill-infused yogurt sauce.
The choices are few — you can have the chicken on its own ($7), in pide, in a lavash wrap, in a pretzel bun as a döner burger or on a bed of salad ($13-15), or, for vegetarians, Kotti offers just the roasted veggies ($7) — but that doesn’t matter, because it’s all just so darn good.
Luckily for local diners, co-owner Erkan Emre launched Kotti with partner Michael Stark after, almost on a whim, buying a vertical spit roaster and making döner the way he remembered it for friends and family. He recalled, “When I first had the idea, I wanted to fill a void. This sandwich was nowhere to be had in New York City, so I bought the spit and did a barbecue event. Everybody loved it and they said, Maybe you should think of doing this as a hobby.
“So I did a bigger event, invited 500 people to a restaurant I rented out,” Emre continued. “I gave them free beer and food. All I asked was for them to fill out a three-page survey and let me know what they thought.”
At that point, he said, he had three of the $400 spit roasters, but he knew a brick-and-mortar location was out of reach, so he and Stark decided to try Smorgasburg and were “one of the lucky 24 out of 300 selected, which gave us an incredible springboard.”
They debuted there in April, 2016, and the rest has followed rapidly, probably because the partners have hit the sweet spot, namely, “meeting the demand of consumers asking for nutritious, healthy food in a friendly environment where the customer comes first.”
Indeed, stunning as the flavor of the food is, it is downright exciting to learn that it’s also good for you. Kotti does not even have a freezer, “a conscious decision,” said Emre, who noted that the partners wanted to “keep things extremely fresh.” The chicken is free-range, never frozen and GMO-free from a farm in Pennsylvania, and it’s Halal to boot.
While they don’t want to stray too far from the original concept, in response to requests from customers, Kotti will begin offering one breakfast dish later this month — a poached egg on a bed of caramelized roasted vegetables with scallions and toasted bread on the side.
I have to admit, I’m waiting for when they begin doing dinner, too!
KOTTI BERLINER DÖNER KEBAB
Industry City Food Hall, 220 36th Street:
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday, Breeze Hill (East Drive at Lincoln Road), Prospect Park, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
DeKalb Market Hall, 445 Albee Square West, coming soon