The vegan doner kebab has arrived
Tucked away behind Camden High Street, What The Pitta offers an innovative and glorious alternative
15 June, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
What The Pitta in Bayham Street, Camden Town – launched by two Turkish friends
DONER and chips is hardly high cuisine, but the version served at What The Pitta is truly extraordinary.
“Like a late night kebab,” reads one online review “but way nicer and you don’t hate yourself at all afterwards.”
This new business on Bayham Street, tucked away behind Camden High Street, claims to sell the UK’s first vegan doners.
Made with marinated, non-GMO soya chunks, the spiced “meat” is grilled then served in a wrap or with chips and salad in a box.
For the authentic experience, I cycled over after an evening in my local pub.
Outside, groups of friends were mingling. “There’s nothing like this where we live,” explained Tania Mazzoni, who had travelled all the way from Wembley for one of these special doners.
The vegan food scene in north London is certainly buzzing like never before. In Camden, a vegan pizza restaurant called Purezza has just opened, using “mozzarella” made with brown rice milk.
The Fields Beneath coffee shop, by Kentish Town West station, ditched all meat and dairy last year – and customers are lapping up their oat-froth cappuccinos.
What The Pitta was launched by two British-Turkish friends, Cem Yildiz and Rojdan Gul.
Two years ago, Cem declared he had gone vegan. Rojdan had an uncle who served vegan kebabs at his restaurant in Freiburg, Germany. They booked their plane tickets that day and struck a deal to share the uncle’s secret recipe.
The is now their third site, with two other outlets in Croydon and Shoreditch.
“Our motto is meat free more often,” explains Rojdan, who says he eats vegan food around 95% of the time.
The short menu at What The Pitta is carefully crafted.
The pitta bread is made in-house, along with their silky humous and oozy vegan sauces – garlic, tzatziki (made with soya yoghurt) and chilli.
They also bake puffy Turkish lamacun flatbreads on site, topped with minced soya, vegetables and herbs.
Gleaming fridges are well-stocked with craft beers, kombuchas and salted caramel vegan ice cream.
I ordered the doner wrap, chip box (both £7.95) and flatbread (£4) – and was blown away.
Eating high-street kebabs is typically a mixed experience.
They might hit the spot, for sure, but the quality of the meat is often dubious and the gristle sticks in your teeth.
The soya chunks here boast a springy, meaty texture – crisp and crunchy on the outside, juicy within. They’re not bland, either, with a subtle spice and smokey notes from the grill.
They are a healthier and more ethical choice, too, as intensive meat production places a heavy strain on the planet’s resources.
I call Rojdan later, who observes that many of his customers are “meat reducers”, rather than strict vegans. For me, this is the key – as a nation we unthinkingly eat too much flesh that’s low quality and low welfare.
Options like What The Pitta are an innovative and glorious alternative.
What The Pitta
9-91 Bayham Street, NW1
Deliveries via UberEATS and Deliveroo