Restaraunt: Kebab Sarayi
Type: Turkish kebab
Prices: 4,500 - 7,900 won
Over the last few years, our fair city of Cheongju has experienced an influx of pasta and steak restaurants, as well as some decent burger joints. That is why Kebab Sarayi is just the kind of restaurant the Cheongju needs right now.
Kebab Sarayi occupies an adorable little space on the north side of the downtown walking street next to Nori Zone. You can smell the roasting lamb drifting from the walk up window before you even arrive. The interior is clean, bright and newly furnished. Hand painted murals of famous places in Turkey and imported Turkish light fixtures are nice touches to the decor. Both the Korean restaurant owner and the Turkish chef are friendly and speak English, so you can order with ease.
There are several tasty options that you can order with your choice of slow roasted lamb, slow roasted chicken, or a mix of both lamb and chicken. If you've had bad experiences with dried out kebab chicken in the past, fear not, because this chicken definitely isn't dry.
The classic kebab wrap comes in a tortilla, with a generous helping of meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, and sauces. You can get the same ingredients on a piece of bread which is called a "Jumbo."
The most interesting way to enjoy the kebab meat is to order a kebab box. A take out box is filled with rice and then covered with meat, vegetables and sauce. It's like a delicious Turkish style bibimbap. If you're not a big fan of white rice, the chef plans on adding a potato option for the kebab box in the coming weeks. Extra meat can be added for 2,000 won and a slice of melted cheese can be added for 1,000 won.
There are a few kebab related pitfalls to avoid. In the Korean tradition of adding sweet pickles to things that don't require sweet pickles, they will be added to your kebab unless you specify otherwise. Of course, you can always pick them off if you forget. Also, spicy means spicy. People with medium tolerance to spicy foods should order their food "a little spicy." Plan on consuming an entire can of soda if you order you food with even a little bit of spicy sauce.
If you're not already full or you just need a few minutes to relax, there's Turkish ice cream for dessert and a selection of candy available towards the back of the restaurant. Tea drinkers will be pleased to know that hot or iced Turkish black tea is also available.
The official grand opening of Kebab Sarayi is October 9th.
*(Author's note: I can't believe I ate the whole thing. I had the lamb wrap, most of a chicken kebab box, and a cup of black tea five hours ago and I still don't want to look at food. Totally worth it.)