The Sultan’s Kite

November 11, 2010 at 2:12pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I walked in both anticipating that the Kite would be a totally new experience, and hoping that it would be a good one. What I didn’t expect is to walk in and be greeted by a very familiar face: The same guy who used to work at Ali Baba’s! (Not either of the two older brothers, but the younger guy with the pleasant and low-key demeanor). Apparently, he is the new manager of The Sultan’s Kite.

In any case, I won’t dwell on what exactly the link is between the Sultan’s Kite and Ali Baba’s. On to the food. Basically, this place is in some ways similar to Ali Baba’s, but with some key differences. I will reproduce as much of the menu here as I can.

As the tag line infers, you (as the “Sultan”) basically choose either falafel ($4.25), gyro meat ($5.15), chicken shawarma ($5.25) or chicken tikka korma ($5.99). You then select either a pita, wrap, rice, or salad as your “protein delivery vehicle”. There are also three choices of sauce: the standard creamy taziki cucumber sauce, a “red taziki” - described as “original with a hint of mild chili”, and a “green chutney” - described as a “fiery green chili sauce”. And like Ali Baba’s, there are a few other veggies/condiments like onions, feta cheese, olives, lettuce, and tomatoes that you can add on to whatever you order at your discretion. As for side items, they have Greek potatoes for $1.39, a soup of the day for $1.99, or hummus and pita for $3.49. Drinks are also extra ($1.49 for a 16 oz. soda). 

The manager gave me a sample of both the shawarma and the chicken tikka korma. The latter was definitely quite tasty, and I thought about ordering it initially. However, I wanted to eat a pita-style wrap, and he recommended that I order the chicken shawarma instead, so I did.

I should mention now, the chicken shawarma is not the traditional format one might think with shawarma cooked as a gyro-like cone in a circular spit. Instead, it is basically chunks of marinated white and dark meat that have been grilled and kept in a hot tray. In any case, it was still very tasty, and I ordered it with the “red taziki” sauce. I would say that the size of the pita and the amount of meat is very comparable to Ali Baba’s – i.e. you get an amount of meat that would give a dietician a heart attack. As I was hungry, I also ordered a side of the Greek fries, which were a decent-sized serving of your standard, thick-cut potato wedges with that slight lemony hint. Both the shawarma pita and the fries cost about $7.00 total. I was stuffed. The food was at least comparable in quality to that of Ali Baba’s as well. Mission accomplished.   

Given the history of the location, one can’t help but *want* to support the Sultan’s Kite. Whether or not it will succeed, however, is another story.

Here is what I consider to be outright positives about the Sultan’s Kite: First of all – you get a lot of food. Specifically, the chicken shawarma offers you a lot of grilled and tasty skinless and boneless chicken in a wrap-style format. That should be a draw for people who enjoy eating good quality grilled chicken with a bit of a zing to it.

Related to that, the food is what I would consider sort of a generic, middle-eastern comfort/fast food for middle America. It is different, but not so different that people have no idea what it is. This is familiar fare for Lincolnites, but at the same time, it’s not just yet another sandwich shop in a downtown that is already filled with them. Also, you get your food fast - where else in downtown can you get a heaping pita of grilled chicken so quickly? Because the food is pretty much ready to go in hot plates, once you get up to order, it will be ready within a minute or two. Finally, the addition of the three types of sauces, and in particular the chicken tikka korma, give this place enough of an edge to distinguish it from Ali Baba’s and the Gourmet Grill just a block away. 

On the other hand, here are some things that the Kite could work on: First, please have meal combos. Although the size of the meat (or falafel) entree is enough that one could order just that alone, I have a feeling that the kind of people who would be a good fit for this place are people with big appetites who want an order of potatoes with their meal. The kind of person who eats a huge gyro or other type of meat-based wrap doesn’t really care about proportion size or what effect it will have on their bodies. They just want a lot of hearty food, and that means potatoes too. I’d say that a $6 or $6.50 combo that includes a big wrap, the Greek fries, and a small soda would be fair. Reducing the price of a combo even lower would make it more attractive to students.

Also, for customers who dine in, please give them plates (even paper plates) and not the same Styrofoam boxes you give to take away customers. Although it’s the same food, it just doesn’t feel right eating out of one of those when you are actually in the establishment and not eating it out. Finally, please add a TV inside, preferably one playing ESPN or maybe one of the cable news channels. There is complete silence in the Kite right now, and so beyond whatever conversations other patrons are having, there is no other ambient noise inside, and that can just be a little strange.

It will be interesting to see if The Sultan’s Kite survives. No doubt, it’s a challenging time to open a restaurant. Downtown is an extremely competitive market, with a host of strong, long-standing favorites, and a recent flock of newcomers. Everyone is either looking for a bargain, or for someplace where the quality of the food or atmosphere would justify a higher price. Personally, I’m really hoping they do well, and I think they *may* have the juice to keep going, especially if they tweak their prices a bit.

Regardless of whether or not the Kite flies, good luck to its new operators!

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The Comments

Mr. Wilson November 11, 2010 at 3:12pm

Thanks for the overview, T. I can’t wait to give The Sultan’s Kite a try.

You’re right that offering a combo would be a huge plus. In fact, it’s pretty much a requirement for the downtown lunch crowd. The other thing that would help is late hours Thursday through Saturday. I could see the bar crowd digging this kind of grub.

Karin Dalziel November 11, 2010 at 5:25pm

I was actually quite happy they didn’t have a TV. I am really tired of TV’s in every single place I go. But that’s probably just me.

I have been *craving* the chicken tikka korma with rice since I had it last monday. So good! It reminds me of the indian variety, but a little less spicy. It made me wish (again) that there was a cheap take out indian place in Lincoln.

Also, they do have late hours - I believe they’re open till 2am friday and saturday.

Mr. Wilson November 11, 2010 at 5:34pm

You’re right about the hours: 10pm Sunday through Wednesday, 2:30am Thursday through Saturday. Mr. T let me know via IM but apparently he was too lazy to come back here and update his post grin

P-Ho November 12, 2010 at 4:25pm

Cheap take out Indian Food = Tandoor near 34th and Old Cheney

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