There’s been some debate in foodie circles about the devaluing of “ethnic” food, how people happy to pay €15 for a serving of ravioli will balk at the same amount for a plate of jiaozi – or, in Berlin, manti. Turkish restaurants like Adana and (especially) Fes have helped convince discriminating diners that well-grilled lamb and homemade mezze are worth ponying up for, but what about the humble döner? How much would you pay for a high-quality version of the ubiquitous Turkish-German street meat? Mitte’s new K.W.A is willing to bet €7.50 and up, even though no Berlin kebab, not even the ‘premium’ versions at Imren and Mustafa’s, has breached the €5 mark before. The sleek fast-foodery is the brainchild of a trio of local lads, one Turkish-German, two German-German, who named it “Kepap with Attitude” after the Compton rap group (its proximity to art institute KW was just a serendipitous bonus). Together, they aim to do to the döner what’s been done to the hamburger, hot dog and taco before: make it fancy, artisanal, respectable. They do so using regional, antibiotic-free beef and chicken; vegetarian fillings like sesame-studded falafel and grilled halloumi; plentiful fresh produce; and homemade condiments. We tried the “Classic” sandwich with beef, forest-green salad, red cabbage, pickled onions and the age-old Kräuter-Scharf-Knoblauch combo, and were amazed at how meaty it tasted compared to the cardboard shavings at your standard Imbiss, and even to the milder veal served at Imren and its ilk. It would actually be too much if it weren’t for the piquant sauces, especially the very potent Scharf.
More creative creations include the “Funky Mango”, with chicken, coconut sauce and cranberry-mango chutney, with other experiments to come as the shop develops. They’re all available as a flatbread sandwich, a durum or, for €12-14, piled on a literal silver platter. We can hear kebab purists complaining already, to which we say: if there’s room in this town for infinite variations on the gourmet sandwich (and there is, judging by last month’s food page), then there’s room for this.
K.W.A’s biggest market will likely be tourists, who’ll appreciate the hygienic setting as well as cheeky drinks like the “Futschi Mitte” (basically, Coke light and Hennessey for €6). But if you’re nearby, there are far worse lunch options. After all, a €7.50 döner may be pricey, but it’s still dirt-cheap for Mitte.