The difference is, doner is the Turkish name and shawarma is Arabic, says Yilmaz Esen (at top), who oversees the cooking at Ikram Bakery in Fountain Valley. There, you can have the meats Turkish style, sandwiched into housemade pide bread along with lettuce, tomato, red onion and house special doner sauce. For Arabic flavor, Esen will put in hummus.
The two meats are beef or chicken, but you don't have to choose. Esen will put them side by side in the same sandwich.
One possibility is stuffed simit (above), a sesame-coated bread filled with feta, mozzarella or olives. The bread is dipped into a blend of pekmez (grape molasses) and water to color it deep brown and add a hint of sweetness.
For dessert, Ikram's baklava (above) is one of the best around. It's filled with Turkish pistachios, and this makes a difference. Taste the Turkish nuts side by side with those grown in California, and you will notice that Turkish pistachios are a deeper green and richer in flavor.
If you'd like Turkish pistachios to take home, Hamle, a Turkish market, is in the same strip mall as Ikram. But for sure you'll want to take away some Ikram baklava or kadaif. Here, Esen has just flipped a panful of kadaif (above), which he'll put back in the oven until the top is golden brown. Other good choices are simit rings and round pide loaves. However, the baked goods sell out quickly, so go early for the best selection.