Restaurant review: Yalla Yalla

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Location: Soho

Living in London, with seemingly millions of restaurants spread across the city, it is as easy to find good food as it is bad. When I want to eat out, I usually prepare extensively by reading reviews, researching locations and asking for recommendations. However, when I first arrived in September, I was less careful, and this definitely worked in my favour when we stumbled across Yalla Yalla.

I had some friends visiting and so we decided to take the free walking tour (a highly recommended activity for anybody, local or foreign). Once it was over, we felt peckish, and so we decided to go somewhere for a quick snack. But where? ‘I feel like Lebanese food!’, my friend exclaimed suddenly. And so I pulled out Google Maps, typed in ‘Lebanese’, and 15 minutes later we walked, or rather squeezed, into what looked like somebody’s living room, and smelled absolutely divine.

Yalla Yalla has a small menu, but we wanted to order every single item. As we were simply snacking, we ordered 4-5 of their mezze to share, including the hommos, falafel, soujoc and baba ghannouj. Everything arrived very quickly, and we attacked without hesitation. One of my companions, who has been to Israel, firmly said: ‘I allow you to bring friends here. This is a good place.’ We were showered with pita bread and an array of different flavours. The hommos made me swear off Tesco hummus for life, and the soujoc made me rethink my dislike of tomato. As we tucked in, conversation slowly desisted, which to me is the true mark of excellent food.

I have been back twice since that fateful day and both times I have been lucky enough to get a seat (they don’t take bookings at the Soho branch, since there are only about 5 tables). I finally ordered one of their main dishes, the Lahem Shawarma, which consisted of beautifully cooked lamb on a bed of vermicelli rice and flat bread. The lamb juices soaked all the way through, and the meat was perfectly tender. Just remembering it makes me salivate…

Yalla Yalla is a wonderful find and I highly recommend it to everybody who enjoys Lebanese food, but also to those who haven’t tried it before. With throws everywhere and the smell of food in the air, I felt more relaxed, happy and full than I had in a long time.

Square Meal

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