Secret Kebab, as the name might suggest, is a kebab-smuggling operation, steered by the unseen hand of a shadowy, mustachioed figure known as Alparslan the Turk, who is also suspected of being a literary creation. "BOOM BOOM," he writes when he takes your online-only order for delivery. There is no storefront whatsoever, and the website is a cryptic, half-drawn slate. Delivery runs sometimes all weekend, sometimes only Saturday, from 6 pm until an undisclosed time, presumably to confound easy surveillance by customers.
Except when falafel makes a surprise appearance, only one item is offered on the menu: a $5 kiyma lamb kebab, made Adana-style, with a gently spiced tube of lamb sausage, beet, carrot, mint sauce and seasonal greens on fresh-baked flatbread. Still, even this one item is generally sold out hours or even days before the kebab delivery guy makes his rounds.
Twitter, nonetheless, has been virulently atitter about it, with over 500 followers on the @secretkebab account. In fact, aside from an email address available on the site, Twitter is pretty much the only way you can order a kebab. (A phone number has sometimes appeared, but is always swiftly removed.)
As it goes, despite Twitter's promises of an instantaneous world, we are returning to a nation of crossed fingers and Sears Roebuck catalogs: Reader, it took me three weeks to get a kebab. The first weekend I got no response, the second I used a friend's Twitter account and was told in the Turk's very particular patois that "I am very soory it is not possibel this night I have taken his every lamb!!," and the third I ordered 36 hours in advance to finally get confirmed delivery for the coming Saturday. (This arrived one hour early.)
Why so much trouble? Well, these kebabs have sold out pretty much every single weekend since Secret Kebab's launch on March 4, sometimes days before their delivery. It seems that the very difficulty of obtaining one of these kiyma kebabs—and the secrecy surrounding the owner—has become the most effective advertisement for their desirability; standing-room crowds are willing to order two days in advance, with a $3 delivery fee, for what is essentially street food.
Maybe, though, it's just the hope of owning a little piece of the Turk himself. "How I can to you discribe my joy for the meat sizzles?! My God I can not!!" he says on Twitter. "The breads are poofing!!" Who wouldn't want to order from such a pleasant marketing persona?
Two notes, though: 1) It's not really the point, but I should mention that the kebabs are nonetheless pretty dang good altogether—the greens fresh, the beets rich, the pita still warm from the oven. 2) Whoever the secretive "Turk" is, his Turkish is as bad as his English. About the only impromptu Turkish-language sentence on his Twitter feed, "Ben Türkçe konusurlar," is roundly ungrammatical, according to a good Turkish friend. He'd meant "Ben Türkce konusurum" instead, i.e., I speak Turkish. Which is to say, it was a very gentle lie.
- Order this: Kebab ($5). Itâs the only thing on the menu most days.