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Ali’s Kebab Van
On the Woodstock Road opposite St Anne’s
What a fantasy to be Ali, and serve oneself chips and cheese whenever one felt the urge. Kebab vans are something of a legend in Oxford, and there is nothing more legendary than Ali’s Kebab Van.
Stationed trustily on the Woodstock Road, always to be spotted in the distance as you stagger back from the town centre, Ali and his van have the monopoly on North Oxford. And rightly too, for the food he serves is undoubtedly the best apres-Dtm/Fifth Av treat, and worth a walk. Sometimes a queue stretches down the pavement, not, as a non-Oxford resident might assume, a bus queue, but, of course, the late-night snackers queue.
Ali serves everything from the statutory kebab, topped with chilli sauce, salad, chips or an egg, to baked potatoes and warm baguettes. Everything is good quality, filling and always wholesome, unlike some kebab van fodder. For a vegetarian such as myself, for whom the cult of the kebab is usually incomprehensible, the selection of meat-free offerings is varied and delicious. Baked potatoes come with an extensive range of fillings, including sweetcorn, coleslaw and beans, while baguettes with varied fillings are warm and fresh.
But surely the most heavenly, supreme, satisfying creation is the simply swoonsome chips and cheese. Crunchy chips which gradually collapse under the dense weight of melting cheese. There is nothing quite like it. Some people like to swamp the combination in mayonnaise and ketchup. I like cheese, pure cheese. And girls, if, like me, the pleasures of chips and cheese are inseparable from overwhelming feelings of guilt and sin, the walk from the town-centre always justifies the calories involved in this wild act of abandonment.
Another unexpected and delectable attraction is Ali’s coffee. Ask for sugar, and the sweet, syrupy thing that manifests itself is surely better than any posh coffee shop offering. I always have two, as one is never enough, and for thirty pence a cup, how could you say no?
So when you spot those St Annes students gazing longingly across from their canteen, or the lines of weary but expectant clubbers trooping up the road, anticipating the rejuvenation ahead, why don’t you join them?
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