Best kebab in Johannesburg, dinner on a Mayfair pavement

Friday night and unusually free of family commitments we headed for Mayfair. In some ways my grandmother’s Mayfair is unchanged – it’s still the home of many immigrants, and where once they were Jewish families from Eastern Europe now they are families from North Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. Friday evening in that part of town has its own brand of magic. In the dusky light people swell the streets, the stores are open for the night and a thriving street market takes over Fordsburg.

We were on a quest – to find Burhan’s Butchery (halal), a specialist Turkish butchery discovered for us by Hillary Biller in the Sunday Times who wrote about it recently:
“I watch as Burhan makes up the Turkish classic, Adana kebabs. Using spiced mince, he takes small pieces and packs them around a wide, metal skewer. Having dipped his fingers in water, he sculpts the meat – which has a red tinge, thanks to paprika – around the stick in a long, undulating line.
“It may look easy to make but it takes skill,” says Ibrahim.
The skewers are ceremoniously carried through the butchery to the braai on the pavement. The shop has gained a reputation for its grills and will grill anything bought in the shop. Once cooked, the kebabs are threaded from the skewer and put on top of a roti (from the bakery next door), covered with salad and chili sauce, then rolled up. At R20, they are clearly popular.”

Pavement special at Burhan's Butchery, Mayfair


More than popular as our order had to be fitted in between another for 170 wrapped kebabs. Waiting, we browsed the store, finding amusement in the labels for “cok tail sausages”, “Special Brain Masala Mix” and “Vacuum Packed Russians”. And by 6pm we were seated on the pavement on a run-down Church Street, where Burhan’s stands out for it’s fresh paint job, shiny interior and good-looking Turkish owners. Watching Mayfair’s human traffic, many of them burqa-clad, and eating our Adana kebabs. Spicy beef mince, perfectly cooked and wrapped in a fresh and delicious roti. A great choice.

We’ll be back.

* Burhan’s buchery is at 79 Church Street, Mayfair, Johannesburg.
Phone: 011 025 1123. Open Monday to Saturday 9am-6.30pm; Sunday 9am-4pm.

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