by Sean Maloney
Episode 1: Dunya Kabob
Address: 2521 B Nolensville Pike
I'm gonna come right out and say it: I'm a beef kebab junkie. I love 'em, especially when they're done in the Persian fashion — it's kinda like a ground beef tube rather than the usual meat-on-a-stick style — and Dunya does 'em right, even when it's buffet time! While I'm not usually a buffet dude, $9.99 seemed like a fair price to at least remind myself why I usually hate buffets. And why do I usually hate buffets? Because they are rarely this good.
The food was really fresh, the enclosed steam table kept everything warm and moist, and there were plenty of options but not so many it was overwhelming. Let's just say it's a nice balance between variety and gluttony. Unless you were one of the two children who were hanging out — they were probably pushing real hard on the gluttony end. It was adorable.
The staff was really friendly and the language barrier negligible — their English might be a tad broken, but mine is downright mangled and nonsensical, even on its best days. Basically, the tiny bit of confusion was due to my weird combination of Victorian sentence structure and ’80s skater slang. There's no confusion about the food though: The folks at Dunya know what they're doing. I tend to judge a kebab place first and foremost on their tabbouleh, and Dunya's was excellent: finely chopped, well seasoned and really robust, with each of the ingredients making themselves known but working in harmony. I could eat this tabbouleh all day, and probably would have if I didn't have other obligations.
Dunya's yellow lentil soup was perfect for a cold, rainy day in June, which makes me think I'll be back pretty often once it's winter and actually cold. The beef kebab was, again, really, really good with its perfect char and moist, flavorful center. The chicken kebab wasn't quite as good, but it also wasn't beef. The rice was cooked perfectly, none of the usual dry, crusty chunk that you expect from buffet rice. The real winner, though, was their gyro-meat-and-veggies dish. I don't know if there's a proper name for it, but it totally reminded me of the magic my mom could make out of an empty fridge. (My mom is a master of refrigerator roulette, for future reference.)
But the weirdest/best part about Dunya Kabob? They have bottles of Sriracha on every table. While I didn't indulge — there's really no need, all of the food was bursting with flavor — and it seems a bit geographically/ethnically incongruous, I have to say I appreciate the option. Score one for Dunya.