It’s A Doner Deal On Pauahi Street

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - April 27, 2011
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Downtown Doner owners Parker Smith and David McCorriston. Jo McGarry photo

Sometimes a hole in the wall is literally just that. at Downtown Doner, owners Parker Smith and David Mccorriston serve hot, juicy beef and chicken, doner style, from a sub-leased kitchen where they cut a hole in the wall to more easily reach their growing numbers of loyal customers.

No strangers to the street food scene - they started selling their trademark sandwiches and wraps from a lunchwagon and then graduated to a makeshift 10-by-10-foot tent nine months ago - the two are thrilled to have moved their operation to a real, albeit humble, kitchen.

“It was so much work when we were mobile,” says Parker. “People don’t realize what it’s like to shop for supplies, set everything up, cook and then break it all down again every day.”

So when the bar owners at Soho Mixed Media on Pauahi Street (across from HPU and close to Subway) offered the partners use of their small kitchen, they jumped at the chance to be in a fixed location.

Stop by the busy, tiny kitchen any weekday and you’ll find an incredibly cheerful, helpful group hustling to serve their steady line of customers.

The word doner literally means “rotating meat,” and while traditional spits cook lamb, Downtown Doner has two rotating spits from which they slice beef or chicken for a variety of sandwiches and salads.

The idea of a Hawaii doner came to David when he was in Germany. “It was a real no-brainer to bring it to Honolulu,” he says. “People who already know the doner concept love it, and people who haven’t seen it before are happy to give it a try.”

The menu is simple: roasted beef, chicken or a mixture of both are served in a variety of wraps, salads and sandwiches. For $5, the Small Wrap offers a choice of meats, lettuce, cucumber, tomato and onion on a 10-inch tortilla wrap. a vegetarian version that includes hummus or feta instead of meat is just $4.50.

The budget conscious will be thrilled with the fresh, hot, pita sandwich that’s filled with meats, veggies and topped with a fresh yogurt sauce for just $4, and those in need of a hearty lunch should find the signature “Downtown Doner” ($7.25) with its half-pound of meat more than satisfying. In truth, the 12-inch flour tortilla, which oozes yogurt sauce, spices and lots of garlicky goodness, could easily feed two people with moderate appetites.

“We’re trying to keep the price between $5 and $7,” says Parker. “In this economy, we know that people are looking for good value.”

Plate lunch addicts will get their fix with a rice Plate ($7) that comprises meats topped with signature yogurt dressing, jasmine rice and a side of feta salad, and there’s remarkably good value in a half order of fresh, thick, grilled pita served with hummus and a side of cucumber for just $2.25.

Downtown Doner is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and look for the crew to stay open late next First Friday, May 6. “We stayed open last month,” says Parker, “but we’re a bit off the beaten path. People didn’t really know where to find us.”

They do now.

Happy eating!

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