I RECENTLY CONDUCTED an East Coast sandwich tour, and became aware that the sandwich is in crisis all along the West Coast. While we have pan-Asian delights galore and boot-licking, ass-wiping table service, we, fellow citizens of Seattle, do not have deli-sandwich culture. Take the Reuben Sandwich Scandal. Several local joints offer a "Reuben" sandwich, which, in the sandwich Torah, is composed of the following: corned beef, sauerkraut, rye bread. Sometimes there is special sauce. There is not cheese. Roasted turkey breast does not constitute corned beef. Nor does soy product doused with smoke flavor. Seattle restaurants and delis take note: Do not use the name of the eldest and most merciful of Jacob's sons in vain!

The Sandwich Association of America has been especially concerned about the state of things along Seattle's Broadway, especially after receiving several complaints about the gyro sandwich debacle. Gyros, falafel, and other such Greek and Middle Eastern brand sandwiches are about all Seattle has to fall back on in the way of sandwich culture, but the situation on Broadway has been quite grim. In the north end, Gyro World in the Broadway Market slowly churns out edible, overpriced "Gyros," while Mediterranean Express, south, is a blemish on the face of the pita sandwich they dare to call gyro. Twice I have been unable to finish the tough, lukewarm beige sponge I was handed in return for my hard-earned $4.

I had forgotten there could be any joy between folds of pita bread until I stumbled into Broadway Grocery to purchase either cigarettes or malt liquor, and met Seattle's sandwich prince, Bulent Ertur. Mr. Ertur's Bistro Antalya has vanquished the worst pizza kitchen this side of the Husky Den and replaced it with a pita-sandwich counter saturated in deep orange, yellow, and aqua blue. He offered me a bite of his fresh, handmade kebap--strips of lamb and beef slowly roasting on a spit.

Then, to the tune of the constantly beeping mini-mart door, Sir Ertur assembled a magnificent Doner Kebap ($3.95): plenty of the aforementioned beef and lamb, greens, pickled red cabbage, yogurt sauce, and ripe romas on his own freshly baked pide bread sprinkled with black sesame seeds. I nearly wept.

Consequently, I became obsessed with this elegant man and his sandwiches. Over a Mucver ($3.95)--zucchini, feta, dill, and onion pancakes pocketed in the same wondrous pita, dressed with sauce and greens--he told me about the restaurant he ran in Germany for 10 years. I ordered the rice pudding ($2.95). An astrophysicist, Ertur left Istanbul for Germany, where he taught physics, chemistry, and mathematics for nine years, saving money and learning the art of French bread-baking. He was a successful restaurateur for 10 years, until new landlords gave him the boot because they "hated foreigners."

Ertur carves his kebap meat lovingly with a long knife, scoops up the slices with a customized kebap scooper utensil, toasts his pita in a special sandwich-maker/panini crusher from Turkey, and constantly tends to his roasting kebap. Always prepping, his every white-lab-coat-ed movement conveys love and care for the food he creates, and his joy in sharing it with others. He emphasized that his kebap meat was not from the frozen stick of lamb and beef that I have come to associate with pita sandwiches. Ertur's sandwich shop is probably the only place on the West Coast where you can experience this succulent Turkish specialty.

For the sake of research, I returned and ordered the Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich ($4.50), with a doner kebap on the side. The chicken salad, a secret recipe, was some of the best to pass these lips--a hint of curry, plus celery, small sweet grapes, toasted almonds, and delicately poached chicken ensconced in the usual Bistro Antalya treatment: greens and cabbage on that thick, hand-sliced pita perfection. The menu lists Chutney Chicken, Rustic Turkey Sandwiches ($4.50), and Hummus and Vegetable Sandwiches ($4.25), which I assume are crafted with the same true-believer sandwich aesthetics, but I cannot stop ordering the doner kebap.

Bistro Antalya hardly has time to shine its beacon of hope out into the sandwich wasteland, its few chairs occupied by Turkish friends, delighting in the gentle attentions of the prince of sandwiches. But, however small, this bustling counter is the beginning of a grassroots movement demanding proper sandwiches for Seattle, headed by a man truly obsessed with the sandwich.

Bistro Antalya
327 Broadway E (inside Broadway Grocery), 860-1911.
Daily, 2 pm-10 pm. Alcohol at Broadway Grocery. $

Price Scale (per entrée)

$ = $10 and under; $$ = $10-$20; $$$ = $20 and up