The King of Donair food truck opened three months ago and plans to keep its season going as long as it can. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

I’ll watch almost any food-centric travel show I come across, and not long ago I caught an episode of “Big Food Bucket List” that featured donair, a gyro-like sandwich of shaved meat on pita bread that’s popular in Canada.

At the time, I lamented that we didn’t have a donair shop here yet, put it on my mental list of food I might travel for, and figured one day I’d get to try it.

That day came much sooner and more easily than I thought, when the King of Donair food truck literally appeared in front of me as I walked up Woodford Street in Portland on a Saturday earlier this month.

It was set up in the parking lot of the Woodfords Club, primarily for the attendees of a gaming event happening inside. But even though I had leftovers in my fridge earmarked for lunch, I couldn’t risk passing up an opportunity I might not have again before the truck closes for the winter.

Donair – a 1/4-pound for $12 or 1/2-pound for $16 – is the only lunch item on the food truck’s menu. You can supplement the sandwich with a drink ($3) or bag of chips ($2) and cap off your meal with homemade fudge ($3) that comes in a rotating variety of flavors, from cotton candy to eggnog.

But I was there for one reason only, to taste something that I previously thought would require showing my passport, and the sparse menu helped me stay on course.

A 1/4 pound donair from the new King of Donair food truck. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

Within two minutes of ordering the sandwich, it was wrapped up and in my hands. The woman who served me said the truck had been open for three months and would stay open as long it could this season. Considering the owners are from New Brunswick, Canada, they might make it longer than their Maine customers.

Like the menu, the donair itself appeared minimalistic – just seasoned shaved beef on a fluffy pita, topped with diced tomatoes and onions. But somewhere in there, though barely visible, was a sweet and tangy garlic sauce that dominated the overall flavor. According to the food truck’s website, the sauce was among the tweaks made by the Greek brothers who created the dish in the 1970s, after the residents of their new home in Nova Scotia rejected the traditional gyro. It was a little too sweet for my taste, but I appreciated that it caught me off guard and made the sandwich distinct.

In 2015, Halifax declared donair the city’s official food, and the shop that those brothers opened is now a chain with seven locations, also called King of Donair. The food truck operators say there’s no affiliation between them, so I think I’ll still have to make that trip to Canada, for comparison’s sake.

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