When you think of Turkish cuisine, things like doner kebabs might pop into your mind. But I’m here to tell you that there is much more to explore – and after enjoying a hearty meal at Msida’s Kebab Factory, I have been swayed from thinking of Turkish as simply a quick, grab-and-go food.
Upon entering, we were hit by the stunning scent of herbs and spices, and decided to try out their top dishes, creating a wonderful mix to indulge in. Go big or go home, right?
While we waited, my dining companion and I talked about Kebab Factory’s central location, right in the heart of Msida, and while you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just a regular Turkish joint, this place exceeded our expectations by a mile. It’s got modern interior décor, plenty of natural lighting, great ventilation and a super cool brick exterior décor.
And now… for the main attraction!
Upon bringing us the plates (upon plates), I could immediately tell it was going to be a fantastic meal – the smell was divine. And judging by the amount of food, we knew we’d be waddling out of the restaurant (we did). But before digging in, we had to try their homemade lemonade, which was refreshing and zesty, and their ayran drink, which resembled a pina colada.
We started by tasting the traditional pide – a Turkish pizza – a first for both my food companion and I. “Amazing!” he exclaimed upon taking his first bite. It’s the kind of food that is simple, yet full of surprises. It’s nothing like a regular pizza either – the meat is much more flavourful, and the dough is fluffier on the inside and crispier on the outside.
Next on our list was the icli kofte. This was juicy and tender, with a slightly nutty flavour. And as if that wasn’t delicious enough, it was coated with a crunchy cone-like crust which added a nice texture but didn’t mask the meat’s flavour. Perfection!
Left: Pide; Right: Icli kofte
We were also intrigued by a flat crispy dough that looked like a pizza but wasn’t! Mario, one of the staff members, explained that it is called lahmacun, which incorporates meat and herbs along the very thin pastry. He even showed us how to traditionally piece it together, by adding greens, a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil and herbs, along with a few drops of lemon juice to the middle section. You then roll it up, cut in half and boom – a flavourful roll. The experience hits you in waves. First, the texture and the lightness, then the flavour, followed by the crunch of the pastry. It has a spicy kick to it because of the herbs and dressing, but it’s not overwhelming. If you’re not a spice lover, you’ll definitely be able to handle this.
Following this very flavourful part of our meal, another surprise was in store. The chop shish was small in size yet mighty in taste. “I found the goldmine,” my food buddy exclaimed after swallowing one piece. The chop shish is basically steak on a stick – and although comes in tiny pieces, was cooked to perfection, having a perfect blend of charred flavour on the outside and tenderness as you bite into it. We also paired our shish with couscous, rice and coleslaw.
Next on our table was the lamb adana. Placed on a bed of thin pita, the lamb adana is a fireworks festival bursting with flavour as you take your first bite. It resembles the texture of kofta and had a balanced kick to it. This dish, paired with fresh salad, is perfect for those who love their meat subtly enhanced with herbs and spices.
To top off our very extensive main course, we went for something traditional and tasty – the beef doner. You can appreciate the simplicity and quality of the meat with this dish. It is an immaculate blend of charred flavour on the outside and tenderness as you cut through your slice. Absolutely mouth-watering!
Sweet, sweet heaven!
After giving our stomachs a little break, we decided on an assortment of Turkish treats paired with traditional coffee and tea. Turkish tea embodies all the things you love about regular tea, minus the sugar and milk. It is aromatic, smooth, fragrant and leaves a fresh aftertaste.
The coffee, on the other hand, was quite the experience, according to my companion, the coffee lover. “This cup of coffee is definitely one for the coffee lovers, particularly those who love strong coffee,” he shares, noting that the progression of the taste as it hits your tongue is lovely. “It’s raw and lets you taste all the subtle tones and the nuttiness of the coffee in its purest form.”
As we sip our warm drinks, we are given a delightful platter of traditional treats that look delectable. The first thing we tried was called tulumba. These are fried dough pieces with an airy middle and glazed with honey – light, bite-sized and perfect as your ‘something sweet’ after-dinner treat.
Meanwhile, a dome-shaped pastry known as a sekerpare had an almost almondy flavour in the middle. As you bite into it, the inner filling crumbles and bursts with flavour. The squarish dessert is none other than baklava and the only word that came out of our mouths was “Wow.” The crumbly puff pastry and the smooth filling create the perfect blend. And finally came the fistic sarma baklava, another take on the baklava dessert that takes the pistachio filling to a whole new level. If you like Italian cannoli you’d definitely love this – imagine a cannolo filled entirely with a smooth pistachio, encrusted in puff pastry. Yum!
It was an incredible evening filled with flavour, spice, and everything nice! We’d definitely recommend Kebab Factory. The staff is friendly and ready to assist, and let’s not forget the tasty dishes they whip up! They also offer food delivery on all their items on the menu for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, too. Need we say more?