YALLA YALLA: SCORING SOME LEB IN SOHO
It's probably fair to say that the more interesting places we've visited recently have been the small independent operations. I posted about More the other day which despite no advance publicity served up tasty grub in vibrant surroundings. HS visited a small hole-in-the-wall Noodle joint where they made their own Lanzhou La Mian. Compare and contrast with much more feted openings where the food hasn't lived up to the hype. Stand up Boundary and The Eastside Inn.
A new place to add to the first category is Yalla Yalla - Beirut Street Food in Soho. Hidden down an alleyway where'd you'd expect to find emporiums of a completely different sort, Yalla Yalla ("Hurry Up" in Arabic) is a small café dishing up, as the name suggests, Lebanese food. It’s so small in fact that when me and HS walked in the number of covers was halved. Still, it’s a pleasant enough room if a bit functional especially if you get the stool to sit on.
I only remembered they hadn’t got a booze licence as we were making our way there initiating a minor Middle Class foodie crisis as we fretted around trying to find a bottle of wine that would suit. In the end when we pitched up we found out they had just acquired a booze licence. Queue huge sighs of relief all round as the nice lady poured us some Chateau Kefraya. Lushes, us ?
If you’ve eaten Lebanese food before then there won’t be too many surprises on the menu – Hommos, Shawarma, Tabboule etc are all present and correct - although there were a few things that were new to us.
As the name suggests this is fast food so we didn’t have to long to wait before our mezze arrived. Soujoc were nice and spicy. We were split over the Samboussek: I liked the filling and the thickish pastry with a crisp outside, HS found them doughy. We both liked the Falafel. The Tabboule wasn’t bad either. There was some decent bread to go with the Hommos which had been supersized with the addition of Shawarama. The prices are cheap but the individual servings are quite small so you’re better off over-ordering if you’re hungry.
Mains mostly come in under the tenner mark and ours were both nicely done. My Mixed Grill had chunks of tasty Kofta and some grilled Lamb and Chicken, good rice and a sumac scented onion salad. HS’s Chicken Shawarma was more or less the same save for the marinated Chicken. On the side were a couple of bowls containing a pungent garlic sauce and harissa. The mains were a bit, as HS put it “All Filler , No Killer” but then again I don’t suppose rents come that cheaply in this part of town.
Desserts were disappointing. Backlawa were a bit hard as if they’d been sitting around for too long and the whilst the Knefe was good, the Rose Petal Ice Cream had melted. The latter probably due to the service getting a wee bit stretched as more punters (a rather apt term for customers in this area) piled in.
We liked Yalla Yalla, the food for the most part was tasty and well prepared. The service was friendly and we had a good time. It was only afterwards when there was a little post meal discussion that we decided we would have liked more substantial mains – even if the prices were a bit higher.
But maybe that’s missing the point of the place. For now just be happy that even in Soho you can find something other than Sex Shops or soulless chains to patronise. Mind you, HS said he smelled a roll out. He can be a very cynical man at times.