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Blog, Date Spot, Eat, London

Oklava, Shoreditch

August 15, 2016
Oklava, Shoreditch

While Istanbul and in fact, Turkey in general, are massively struggling at the moment, Turkish food in London seems to be flourishing.

The very popular Babaji Pide opened in 2015 (another one of Alan Yau’s venture), and then Le Bab (serving gourmet kebabs – what’s not to like) opened earlier this year to rave reviews.

But perhaps the most talked about opening has to be Oklava (modern Turkish food), by Selim Kiazin – a young, hungry and exceptionally talented Turkish chef.  She wowed throughout her stint at Carousel, and was so loved that she set up on her own in a quiet Shoreditch side street.

Oklava, Shoreditch

The result is rather satisfactory.  It is a lovely little restaurant, with a busy open kitchen (and a kitchen counter to watch the chefs at work), large windows which open widely and a few seats outside too.

We arrived early and grabbed some of the outside seats to enjoy the warm Friday evening (and later moved inside to their kitchen counter).  I tried their sumac and pomegranate Martini – am always a fan of a vodka cocktail –  especially if they keep it quite simple.  Sumac might not be your cocktail ingredient of choice, but it’s actually quite sweet and worked really well.  We then moved onto the wine – all Turkish – which originally we (mainly Rob) were sceptical about.  Until we tried the wine the lovely waitress recommended, and that shut us up.

Oklava, Shoreditch

The menu is quite succinct, with everything sounding as mouth-watering as the dishes looked as they were prepared in front of us.  A must try is of course their ‘pide’ (flat bread), prepared in their special wood fire.  We went for the ‘traditional’ lamb one (Lahmacun), but their potato, leek, mozzarella, tulum cheese and fresh truffle one looked incredible too.

Oklava, Shoreditch

Our culinary journey here started with fresh Baharat bread and date butter – superb.  They were followed by whipped feta and pumpkin crostinis which were slightly disappointing, not taste-wise, but size-wise (and at £2.50 a pop, not worth it in my opinion). The courgette, feta and mint fritters came next, and while they also looked quite small, they were wonderfully filling and one of my favourite bites of the night.

Oklava, Shoreditch

After the pide we were suddenly feeling quite full, but then came Rob’s beef short rib which was melt in the mouth delicious, followed by my pomegranate glazed lamb breast with yoghurt. Both excellent.

Oklava, Shoreditch

In a city where restaurants are competing for attention, to properly ‘stand out’, Oklava does.  The price can add up (as tends to be the case with sharing plates) but it is totally worth it.


74 Luke St,

London EC2A 4PY

Photo credit: Oklava (and the Instagram ones are mine)

Blog, Date Spot, Eat, Healthy, London

Rök, Shoreditch

February 13, 2016
Rok, Shoreditch

I was asked a number of times which restaurant I had chosen for my birthday dinner last week.  ‘Rök’, I said.  ‘Oh’, replied the curious ones, ‘Great choice.  I do love Roka’.  On each occasion I then explained this was Rok without the a, and in fact very different to the popular, award-winning Japanese restaurant.  ‘It’s a smokehouse.  You know, Scandi food’.

Rok, Shoreditch

If Rok is not well known among Londoners, it should be.  Foodies will undoubtedly have either heard of it, or eaten there.  It’s been applauded by critics (Grace Dent named it one of her 2015 favourites) and you can book a table.  And finally – and this is an advantage perhaps purely for me – it’s not in Hackney or Dalston or Peckham, where for some reason every London restaurant on my list is located (a deterrent as it’s quicker for me to fly to Amsterdam than get home from there).

Shoreditch-based Rok is tiny.  That’s perhaps its one drawback; it’s a squeeze.  The tables are too small for the jars of pickles and plates of smoked and fermented food which come your way.  But it does make it cosy, and warm, and friendly.  All things which help on a cold February evening.  And the interiors are right up my street, stylish in a laid back way, lots of wood and simple white walls.

Rok, ShoreditchRok, Shoreditch

It’s not for everyone.  Fermented/pickled/smoked food never is. Though it does seem to be one of London’s latest crazes: fermented food is very on trend (kimchi is everywhere), plus it’s super healthy, which helps in the popularity stakes.  I know eating – let alone loving – meat is not so on trend these days.  But that was the reason I wanted to come here.  I heard the lamb and the beef – grilled using a charcoal-fuelled BBQ – was incredible.  And I was not disappointed.  Despite a horrid cold I could still appreciate the beautifully grilled lamb rump, and devour the fermented monksbeard (I promise you it tastes better than it sounds).   Plus, who knew pickled fennel (and cabbage) was so delicious?

Rok, ShoreditchRok, ShoreditchRok, Shoreditch

Sadly their chocolate cake had run out, or we would definitely have had that.  Rob worked his way through some British beers, and I enjoyed the house wine.  Their bar actually stays open until quite late.  But I guess I just have to remind myself this is East London, not Fulham.

Rok, Shoreditch

This is a place for those who want to try something different.  Vegetarians will enjoy the pickles, but it would be a shame to come here and not try their meat.  And their bone marrow mash.  Move aside Roka…


26 Curtain Road

Photo credit: Rok

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