Okay, it’s not really a Swedish delicacy, but it’s as popular as IKEA’s meatballs so I think it should be.
Kebabtallrik (literally, “kebab plate”) is a plate of kebab meat (thinly sliced beef from a vertical spit), some lettuce, onions, cucumber, tomato, and a fefferoni pepper. I actually didn’t know what those peppers were called until I started eating kebab in Sweden. You then get a side of carbs, the most common options being french fries or rice. They usually sprinkle some paprika powder on top of the fries. In most places, the meat is doused with a red tomato sauce and then a white garlic sauce. No skewers are involved, so you can eat it easily with fork and knife.
The very first Swedish kebabtallrik I ever ate was actually at Hakepi Kebab in Linköping. Apparently a popular student place, this girl I knew recommended that I try it the next time I went down to Linköping. I hadn’t tried a kebabtallrik before so I decided to give it a shot. The price is fairly reasonable – always around 70-80 SEK. The guy behind the counter put a plate together for me.
“Allting på?” he asked. “Ja tack!” (“Would you like all the fixings? Yes, please!”)
The first thing I noticed was that while they put on some red sauce, they didn’t put the standard white garlic sauce on the meat. They put on a sauce that looked like Thousand Island dressing.
Oh well, I thought. Must just be a Linköping thing.
At first, I didn’t know what it was. There was something simply magical about the way the flavors came together in my mouth. The meat was seasoned, fragrant, fresh, slightly crispy on the edges, and the sauce – wow, the sauce – I was in heaven.
I fell in love.
After that experience at Hakepi, I decided to try some kebab in Stockholm when the opportunity presented itself. I went to different kebab restaurants and always ordered the kebabtallrik. But it was never the same. Something was missing. Sure, it was tasty, especially if you were hungry, but it was mostly just salt seasoning that you tasted. There wasn’t that tanginess, that sweetness in the sauce. It just didn’t taste right. In a word, they all tasted bland.
It’s the sauce, ladies and gentlemen. That Thousand Island lookalike sauce that Hakepi uses makes all the difference. Each kebab house also seasons their meat in a different way, so I’m sure there was some magic (maybe cocaine or some other addictive drug?!) in the meat too.
The other day, I took the t-bana after work to Skärholmen to take care of some errands at IKEA. By the time I was done, it had gotten late so I stopped into the local kebab restaurant by the Skärholmen t-bana. I figured that if you were going to get kebab in the Stockholm region, you might as well try a kebab place in the suburbs. I wasn’t too disappointed, actually. They serve their kebab with red sauce, and then you can pick between a yogurt sauce or a garlic sauce in the self-serve area. I picked the garlic sauce.
It wasn’t as good as Hakepi kebab, but it wasn’t too bad, actually. They actually made an effort to season their meat so it had flavor instead of just a salty taste. Makes a big difference.
Well, there you have it. If you’re looking for good kebab, make sure you go to Hakepi at Ågatan 34 in Linköping. It’s near the SF movie theater and within walking distance of the Central Station.
Have you tried out Hakepi? What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for a good kebab place in Stockholm? I’ve heard that the best kebab in the Stockholm area is in Årsta but I haven’t made my way there yet.
Leave your suggestions in the comments!
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