Restaurant review: Yalla Yalla, Shoreditch, E1
- Credit: Archant
The Yalla Yalla star has been rising solidly since the original eaterie appeared in Soho in 2008. It was pokey and very hard to get a table, but it was always packed because the food was like a Lebanese gift from the gods.
A Fitzrovia branch followed, then a short-lived stay in the new King’s Cross concourse, and now a new incarnation has popped up in a patch of disused wasteland on Shoredtich High Street.
The Beirut street food ethos was winning friends long before London’s current food van fetish so it’s no surprise the new joint keeps to the same formula.
We had a few mezzes to start; fantastically smooth homous, piquant baba gahnnouj and some of the tangiest tabboule this side of Tripoli.
To dunk into these we well-seasoned falafel (possible the tastiest thing on the menu), cheeky pastries stuffed with Lebanese cheese and kibbe Lahme –excellent deep fried lamb and crack wheat parcels.
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Annoyingly the mains didn’t quite match up. My abiding memory of visiting Yalla Yalla in Soho was very tender chunks of meat awash with mouth-watering marinade.
For some reason, maybe the logistics of cooking in a pop-up kitchen, the Shoreditch branch has gone for a more “doner” style of meat. Don’t get me wrong, both the lamb and chicken shawarma were good, but I was expecting something more. Still, at £8:95 it knocks the socks off your standard kebab purveyor.
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The cocktails were impeccable and heaters keep the place warm despite the sub-zero temperatures.
And as the spring drifts into summer, and with food served until pub-closing time on the weekend, I suspect Yalla Yalla is going to be very busy during it’s six month residency.