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Following rave reviews for Selin Kiazim's residency at Trip Kitchen & Bar, we had high hopes for her first restaurant – and we weren't disappointed. The menu honours her Turkish-Cypriot roots, but also shows off her flair for fusion cooking (she worked with Peter Gordon at The Providores). Friendly staff explain traditional ingredients such as çemen (a fenugreek paste) and recommend favourite dishes from the day's line-up: moist courgette, feta and mint fritters underpinned by subtle, warming spice; vibrant grilled shell-on prawns with punchy garlic, chilli and fennel-seed sauce, and a star turn of chilli-garlic chicken, its crisp coating flavoured with za'atar. Minced lamb lahmacun (think Turkish pizza) is a savoury treat too. There are some terrific wines on the all-Turkish list, and Kiazim can be seen working in the open kitchen at this cosy corner site.
London’s restaurant scene doesn’t stand still with an unstoppable cycle of new restaurants replacing old ones. Sometimes it’s for the worse, as when Charlotte Street’s Rasa Samudra, a very civilised Indian seafood restaurant, was replaced with a branch of Côte. A bloody, sodding, unforgivable Côte. Sometimes though, the gods of progress smile upon us. Chico Bandito in Shoredicth was a Tex-Mex restaurant with all the appeal of skin rash. It’s been thankfully replaced by Oklava, a Turkish-Cypriot restaurant.
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Lets not beat around the bush – I (and I’m sure many of our readers) are hot as fully across the Turkish cuisine as we should be. Yes I’ve done a couple of weeks in Istanbul this year and visited the likes of ‘Best New Restaurants 2015’ Berber & Q in Haggerston and Palomar in Soho – but really I’m still trying to get my head around it all. But I do know what I like – and I reeeeeeeeeealy like Oklava that’s just opened in Shoreditch this week.Returning like the prodigal child back to London from Australia, we completely missed Turkish Cypriot chef Selin Kiazim previous life at Providores in Marylebone, Kopapa...
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Oklava, Shoreditch – Oklava is just in the right spot, in Shoreditch – trendy and contemporary.I entered Oklava with my gaze fixed on the open kitchen and oven. The feeling of comfort overtakes. The smell of cooking was hardly overpowering, was gentle in the background. The colours of sea blue and white exude a very calming effect. Only soft and gentle lighting to illuminate the Okava, because the natural midday light took control of the brightness of the place. There was this “zen” feeling so when the food was a little slow, it didn’t seem to matter.The place is not huge, so reserving is highly recommended;...
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So I ended up returning to the City on this fine day. Weekend that is. You may wonder WHY I would return to a place with frenetic stress-inducing activities on the weekend.Food of course.So, a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street we found this unlikely little restaurant. I say found like we were looking in vain for it. That wouldn’t be entirely correct… Google maps to the rescue.Like the weekday equivalent of the nearby commercial hub of London with multitudes of bankers, the restaurant was smartly dressed, opening and friendly. No sarcasm there of course.All the staff were women. No chauvinist...
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