15 Auburn Rd Auburn, NSW 2144
|Opening hours||Sun-Thu 7am-1am, Fri-Sat 7am-3am|
|Features||Cheap and cheerful|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9643 8433|
If you want to find good Turkish food in Sydney, look for the smoke. Auburn Road, the main drag in the western suburb of Auburn, has Sydney's highest amount of good Turkish food per square metre, and as such is permanently blanketed in smoke so thick it could rival a Cheech and Chong movie.
The cloud of Turkish meat smoke is thickest near the holy trinity of Auburn kebab joints, which starts at Brothers Kebab and ends at Sofra Kebabs, with New Star Kebab smack-bang in the middle.
All three serve top-notch Turkish fare and are worth a visit, but New Star has the most on the menu, the most neon on its windows and importantly, the most smoke out front.
It's also the oldest of these institutions, with more than 25 years of keeping Auburn well fed, as owner Atilla Tok will attest.
"Compared to everyone here, we are the most experienced, we've been here the longest," he tells me proudly. "This is my family business. I learned this from my father, him from the generation before him."
It's unclear which generation of Atilla's family taught him to use fresh Turkish bread instead of tongs to handle the skewers of lamb, chicken and kofte as they sizzle over charcoal, but that meat juice-soaked piece of bread is the star of New Star's mixed shish plate, a colourful arrangement of well-seasoned meat skewers, simple salads of cabbage, tomato and onions, and a pile of freshly baked bread, including the piece that was used to turn the skewers over the smoking coals.
A mixed shish plate is probably enough food for one person, maybe even two, but don't let that stop you from ordering an Iskender plate as well – a mountain of shwarma meat, Turkish bread, yoghurt and tomato sauce that will make you question why all sandwiches aren't served like this.
Shwarma meat also features prominently in one of New Star's more recent popular menu items – the halal snack pack.
But as good as its rendition of the ridiculous pile of chips, kebab meat, cheese and sauce looks, anyone coming to Auburn solely for an HSP is missing out on genuinely fantastic Turkish food.
New Star Kebab opens at 7am every day, closing at 1am during the week and 3am at weekends. I've never seen fewer than 30 people dining, regardless of the time of day, and it's been like this since it opened in the '90s.
Tok's business philosophy is simple: "Give the people what they pay for and no one can get unhappy. We prepare everything fresh, we use the best quality meat, marinated every morning, cooked on the coals fresh for every order."
New Star Kebab
Bottom line Mains $8-$26
Must-try dish Mixed shish plate $26
It's not all Turkish food in Auburn, give these other cuisines a try as well.
42 Auburn Road, Auburn, 0413 632 438 studentbiryani.com.au
Auburn is the first Australian location for this worldwide Pakistani franchise, which offers a cheap and decent range of biryani – rice with curried beef, chicken, goat or vegetables – alongside a completely bonkers menu that also includes fried chicken and burgers.
124 South Parade, Auburn, 02 9649 3218
Away from smoke-filled Auburn Road is Taste 101, a northern Chinese restaurant with an impossibly big menu. Standouts include a moreish whitebait omelette, a plate of cold pork belly slices with spicy vinegar, and a bizarre dish of fried potato and green beans in gravy.
65 Auburn Road, Auburn, 02 9649 4450
One of many Persian restaurants in the area, Vatan rises to the top thanks to its beautifully round and puffy discs of proper Persian bread, best served with a grilled eggplant dip, a stew of lamb with kidney beans, spinach and lime, or a slow-cooked lamb shank with buttery saffron rice.