I've never been to Turkey but I've recently become a connoisseur of Turkish food in Johannesburg. I know of three Turkish restaurants here and I've been to each of them multiple times. All three are fantastic, but after careful consideration I've concluded that one Turkish restaurant stands out above the rest: Burhan's Butchery and Kebab House.
Burhan's is easy to miss; it's along Church Street, Mayfair's busiest road, in a frenetic stretch full of double-parked bakkies and overly enthusiastic car guards. If you're heading south, just look for the big red Turkish flag on your right. If you hit Albertina Sisulu Road then you've gone too far.
The place's most distinguishing feature is its kitchen, which is actually outside the restaurant, more or less in the street. One cook grills meat over a charcoal fire and another operates the rotating spit, paring off thin slices of meat for shawarmas.
The inside of the restaurant is small, maybe eight or ten tables, and the walls are decorated with Turkish hangings and maps. The menu is simple, a two-page affair with a recurring theme: meat. There is nothing on this menu for vegetarians but if you like meat (all halal, of course) then this is your place.
I'm partial to the strangely named "chicken chops", which are actually chicken thighs and drumsticks cooked to juicy, spicy, charcoal-y perfection. But I've also enjoyed the betyi kebabs and the kofte. Each meal is offered in both "small" and "large" sizes; small is more than enough for one person and large is perfect for two. Platters are served with rice, a number of raw vegetable salads, yoghurt and a salsa-like tomato sauce, and more naan bread than you could ever eat.
The menu also includes a selection of pides, kind of like thick-crust Turkish pizzas, and lahmacun, thin toasted bread topped with spicy mince. The lahmacun is a perfect appetizer but the cheesy pides are hearty enough to order as mains.
Come to think of it, every single thing I've ever ordered at Burhan's has been delicious. It's impossible to go wrong.
I suggest saving room for baklava and Turkish coffee or tea at the end of the meal. Actually, even if you're full you should order the baklava anyway. I promise you'll eat it all, and your entire meal will still cost less than R100 per person.
Where? 79 Church Street, Mayfair
When? Mondays to Saturdays: 09:00 - 18:30, Sundays: 09:00 - 16:00
Tel: 011 025 1123
by Heather Mason