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Food and Leisure

And now, the real Turkish doener is here

JOYFUL HARVEST - Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido, Karla Alindahao -

Why would a German national in the Philippines set up a Turkish restaurant?             

“It was food that I grew up with,” says food entrepreneur Andy Mueller. Growing up in Mannheim in the 1960s, he recalls frequenting the neighborhood joints put up by Turkish immigrants. “The doener can be considered as one of the most popular German fast-food dishes,” he says.

In case you’re not familiar with the doner kebab phenomenon, doener is a Turkish dish made of roasted meat cooked on a spit: you might also know it as the Middle Eastern shawarma or Greek gyros.

Chief cook Murac Kirac sees to it that the Turkish food is authentic

Convinced that Turkish food is something that would be acceptable to the Filipino palate, Andy and his Filipino wife, Elizabeth Camaniro of Cebu, decided to open Doener King. “What we serve at Doener King is different because it is the real thing,” he says. “The food is what real Turkish food should taste like and I think Filipinos will like it.”

As a long-time resident of the Philippines, Andy is not only fluent with the local language; he is also attuned to the Filipinos’ food preferences.

Mueller experienced firsthand the initial difficulties of setting up a business. “When I went to the bigger malls to apply for store space, they asked me, ‘Where are your other outlets?’ Understandably, they wanted to check my track record. But it was going to be my first store.”

While Andy was a bit disappointed that he was turned down, he was unfazed. He recently opened an outlet in the Isetann Cinerama Complex on CM Recto, Quiapo, Manila. “I need to have a showcase for the bigger malls.” And thus Doener King, home of “The Real Turkish Doener,” was born.

Elizabeth Mueller, Andy Mueller and Malik Gencer, director-general of Fountain International Schools

To ensure authenticity, Doener King has a Turkish chief cook, Murac Kirac. Andy adds, “A lot of our kitchen equipment is also imported and we use the herbs and spices used in traditional Turkish cooking for our food.” He tells us that it is the herbs and spices that differentiate the Turkish doener from the Greek gyro, the Saudi Arabian shawarma, the Persian kebab, or the Filipino incarnations of these. Members of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce were his guests during our visit to the store.

Bestsellers at the restaurant include the durum doener beef (or beef wrapped in flatbread made from wheat), and beef kebab. Chicken doeners or kebabs are also featured on the menu, and the Western influence is apparent as one can opt to have either of these with French fries. There are firinda tavuk or baked chicken, izgara koefte or fried meatballs, et sote (steamed beef) and ciger sote (steamed liver.)

The storeowners are particularly proud of their yogurt and ayran, a yogurt drink homemade from a yogurt culture with origins in Turkey. We are told, “Everything is sold out every day.” While the bread used in the fast-food store is currently baked by a Persian bakery in Quezon City, Doener King will be baking its own bread by February. Lahmacun, the traditional Turkish pizza that is topped with minced meat (beef or lamb) and served with a squeeze of lemon will also be available next month. 

Mueller shares that his plan is to open two more stores within the year, “hopefully in Makati and Greenhills.” We hope that he is able to follow through; at present you can conveniently take the LRT-2 train to his existing store but for those unfamiliar with the place, the area can be a bit daunting.

Firinda tavuk or baked chicken is served with rice.

* * *

Doener King is located at the basement of the Isetann Cinerama Complex, CM Recto, Quiapo, Manila.

ANDY

DOENER

DOENER KING

FOOD

ISETANN CINERAMA COMPLEX

MURAC KIRAC

TURKISH

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