Many of you will already have a favourite kebab truck, and I bet you hold your opinion with conviction. An e-coli outbreak wouldn’t change your mind, let alone a review by some puny undergrad. Nevertheless, let me tell you who I think is the best in the business.
If you’re looking for love, forget the Taylorian – try the kebab truck parked out front. In the frigid air of an Oxford night, Hussain’s lights have an almost candle-like quality. The soft glow of the sign that adorns the van beckons visitors like a lighthouse to an island of deliciousness.
As you arrive, in an instant, the cold and darkness melt away and you find yourself bathed in the warmth of the van’s open façade. A golden rectangle illuminates the patch of pavement you stand on. It’s as if the van has achieved enlightenment, and has invited you to share in it.
Take a moment to stare in wonder at the menu. If you have ever craved food after a night of hedonism, Hussain’s will supply it. Pizza, kebabs, curry, falafel, hot dogs, you name it. How do they cook up such marvels in that small truck? Is there a secret underground kitchen? If so, does it connect to the Gladstone Link? I digress.
A wise man once said “ judge the character of a kebab truck by the character of its chips”, and Hussain’s passes this test with frying colours. The chips are hot, crunchy, and, most importantly, appropriately salted (it’s not sexy, but it matters). All of your standard toppings are on offer, but I tend to stick with just cheese. Anything more seems decadent.
If the universally loved chip symbolises the sharedness of human nature, then the mains represent joyful expression of self. Two in particular are worthy of note. The doner kebab is tender, and the flavours engage the sauces in a subtle dance of consistency and contrast across the palate. The popcorn chicken has a deliciously crunchy exterior, but, like your favourite tutor, is delightfully soft inside. You can get your meat in a wrap too, but try to avoid the (worryingly crunchy) rice. Whatever you choose, it’s unlikely to exceed a fiver.
One item, however, steals the show. The Special Chicken Burger is as exquisite as it is unique. While a sizeable piece of chicken sizzles in preparation, an egg is fried on the hot plate. In a few graceful sweeps of the boss’s dexterous hands, both nestle cosily together between soft white buns, alongside salads and sauces of your choosing.
The egg in burger move seems deliciously simple, right? But only with the benefit of hindsight. Lesser innovators try to break from the obvious, but the true visionaries redefine it.
So, next time you need a late-night meal, don’t be a tourist. Venture beyond Broad Street. Who knows, you might just like it.