Yalla Yalla promises delicious and authentic Beirut street food. Their two restaurants in central London are comfortable, warm and always have a great vibe. However I can’t help but believe that serving street food in an established sit down restaurant off Oxford Street rather defeats the point. So, when I was notified about the Yalla Yalla pop-up branch in Shoreditch I was keen to try out this real street eatery.
The informal 40 seat space is under a canopy, shielded from the elements with heaters effectively warming diners. It is a mix of tables with stools and low-level cushioned seating. At the weekends belly dancers and live DJs entertain the crowds. The place is decorated with brightly coloured materials and manages to generate a Middle Eastern feel.
Lebanese food is quick to prepare and easy to eat so works well as an outdoor option. The Yalla Yalla menu is varied and comprises of a range of mezze to share, with Baba Ghanouj, Samboussek Jibne (pastry filed with feta, halloumi and mint), falafel, hummus, tahini and Kibbe Lahme (deep fried lamb parcels). Favourites like lamb and chicken shawarma are available, as well as a selection of wraps with speciality ingredients like Soujoc sausages. All the usual dipping sauces and salads accompany the main dishes. For dessert, a selection of Lebanese pastries are on offer to eat onsite or for takeaway.
The food is just as good as in the indoor restaurants, but somehow tastes fresher and more vibrant. Mezzes are ideal for groups to share but wraps are better for quick takeaway lunches on the go. I loved the completely addictive chicken sharwarma and was particularly impressed with the extra creamy and smooth homemade hummus and the deliciously crunchy falafel. The real beauty of Beirut food is the combination of all the flavours and textures, which you can mix and match in any way you desire. A short but enticing list of cocktails will quench your thirst and prepare you for a night out in Shoreditch. We particularly liked the refreshing Pineapple Mojito and the fruity Berry Dance Martini.
Good news if you work in the area… a lunch-time bicycle delivery service is available to local businesses and residents Monday-Friday from noon-3pm. Orders can be made on 07725 841372.
This cuisine suits the Shoreditch site and the carefree clientele well and I wouldn’t be surprised if Yalla Yalla becomes a ‘permanent pop-up’.
more information: www.yalla-yalla.co.uk