The halal snack pack is apparently a Sydney invention, comprised of a bottom layer of hot chips overlaid with kebab meats, grated cheese and topped with kebab sauces. It’s a fast food fusion dish that has become a hot trend.
If you’ve joined the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society Facebook group you’ll know the rules. If not, let me summarise.
You go to a kebab shop and order a halal snack pack. They are generally rated on five criteria. First is the obviousness of the halal signage outside and inside of the shop.
Second is the warmth of the greeting by staff. Third is the presentation of the dish, such as how beautifully the sauces are applied and the container (for an unknown reason polystyrene is preferred over aluminium). Fourth is how good it tastes and the quality of the ingredients, such as the crispness of the chips and the tenderness of the meat.
Finally there are strict rules for the sauce. The halal snack pack is associated with a very Australian multicultural vocabulary and sense of humour, which to me is an example of Australian multicultural at its best.
It begins with old definitions of skippies (Anglos, based on how you only see white people in the old TV show Skippy) and wogs (people of Mediterranean and Levantine descent who emigrated to Australia in the decades after WWII). This discourse has evolved. Skippies are now dingoes. Wogs are now brothers and sisters, as the language is based on Islamic cultural conventions.
The halal (approved of) sauces are garlic (usually a yogurt based sauce), chilli and BBQ (despite its contested origins). Tomato sauce (the bottled kind) is absolutely haram (forbidden). Only dingoes order a snack pack with tomato sauce.
As part of my outreach work to the fine citizens of Fitzroy, I have been researching how good our snack packs are. Three kebab shops on Smith St advertise snack packs in their windows, and I’ve tried two of them (I have avoided Istanbul Kebab at 143 Smith St because the one and only time I tried one of their kebabs it was terrible, the greasiest kebab I’ve ever had). I miss its predecessor Efe’s.
First was Fitzroy Kebabs at 89 Smith St. This is their large at $12.50 (slightly larger than the $10 regular). I started cautiously, with lamb, chicken salt on the chips, cheese and just garlic sauce. It was delicious and quickly devoured by me and my enthusiastic research assistant.
Next was what is now Hasir Kebab at 285 Smith St, which has had a mixed history, changing hands a few times, but it seems good now. Their large at $15 was massive compared to their regular at $10, which appeared to be about the same size as the other one. It was so big my research assistant and I failed to finish it. This included mixed chicken and lamb and garlic and BBQ sauces (I particularly like the latter with chicken).
I’m not being diplomatic in recommending both, as they’re both great. There are differences between the two that may sway you to one or the other. Fitzroy Kebabs was very salty. The brother may have been too generous with the chicken salt for my taste, but he was also more generous with the cheese. Their snack pack had more meat than chips. Conversely, Hasir Kebabs had more chips than meat, though there was plenty of meat, but perhaps not enough cheese. And it was less salty and more sweet as their BBQ sauce was very sweet.