Our adoration for street food is undeniable, as the dishes on offer quintessentially represent a nation’s most popular cuisine. The humble fare that once could only be enjoyed from kiosks, trucks and stalls is now becoming more accessible in a contemporary, stylish and comfortable setting.
From the streets of Jerusalem to the streets of hipster Soho comes Tabun Kitchen; specialising in Palestinian street food, while delivering a modern approach to an ancient cuisine. The venue, as expected for the locale, is on the bijou size. However, due to its modish, chic decor and the use of soft, neutral pastel colours, the restaurant feels and seems decidedly larger.
The menu corresponds with the current trend of small tapas style dishes designed for sharing.
From the “Starter – Mezze” section we ordered the “Maftool Cous Cous Salad”, with peppers, chilli, pomegranate dressing and spicy sujuk lamb sausage. The salad was light, zesty and tangy, which was expertly balanced by the spicy, well seasoned meaty sujuk that surreptitiously caressed my mouth with a subtle lingering chilli kiss. This was an exceptional dish that made our tastebuds dance with delight. – Highly Recommended
The “Grilled Halloumi” was accompanied with is’ha black sesame, avocado and malfouf cabbage salad. The avocado was smooth and buttery, the malfouf cabbage salad, which is a Middle Eastern take on slaw, was crunchy and fresh, and the halloumi had a scrumptiously spicy piquancy. This was a truly enjoyable dish, only somewhat marred by the halloumi’s ever so slightly chalk like texture. – Recommended
The next dish was the “Jerusalem Falafel”, with sumac onion centre and tahini-tossed aubergine salad. The falafel was soft and fluffy inside with a crispy outer layer. Texturally it was perfect. Piquantly, the flavours were too subdued for our palate. The sumac onion provided a tart taste, and the tahini aubergine salad, delivered a faintly bitter flavour. – Worth a Try
The final starter dish was the “Lentil Salad”, with peppers, coriander and aubergine. This dish took us by surprise. The salad was bursting with flavour, with the tangy, sweet juice from the pomegranate to the spicy, curried flavour of the lentils. The dish was effervescent, yet hearty in texture. – Highly Recommended
From the “Manaeesh – Palestinian Pizza” segment of the menu we ordered the “Akkawi Cheese” that consisted of olive, sun dried tomato and is’ha black sesame. The pizza was prepared in the Tabun clay oven, which gave the flat bread a chargrilled, smokey taste. The cheese was sensually gooey, with the sun dried tomato providing the sweetness, which was defused by the bitter olives. Technically this dish was sublime, but the flavour combinations were not to our entire liking. – Worth a Try
From the “Traditional Mains” we ordered the “Musakhan Chicken”, which was sumac-marinated chicken, caramelised onions, pine nuts, and cucumber and mint sauce. The marinated chicken was divine and the caramelised onion provided a taste sensation. Whilst the cucumber and mint sauce provided the much needed gravy element of the dish, personally I would have preferred a spicy sauce to accentuate the staple Middle Eastern flavours further. – Recommended
The “Lamb Makloubeh”, consisted of lamb, rice, aubergine, pine nuts, and cucumber and mint sauce. The lamb was tender and supple, but required more seasoning. The rice was fluffy and seasoned well. The aubergine was the star of the dish, with its deliciously chargrilled texture and prominent spices. The dish once again could have benefitted from a different type of sauce to provide it with bolder flavours. This was a pleasant dish, but some elements requiring ameliorating. – Worth a Try
From the “Grills” portion of the menu, we opted for the “Lamb Three Ways”, which was marinated ﬁllet, spiced kofta, tahini lamb kofta, spicy shat’ta sauce and toum garlic sauce. The marinated fillet was sensational; supple and luscious with its prodigious flavours that tantalised our gustatory cells to euphoria. The spiced kofta was tender and soft, but required more spice. The tahini lamb kofta was slightly bitter for my palate. The sauces were simply divine and masked the flavours of the elements that were less appealing. – Recommended
The “Chicken Grill”, contained chicken kofta, shish taouk, spicy shat’ta sauce and toum garlic sauce. The taouk was stupendously succulent and moist, and breaming with flavour, with each bite drawing me closer to a hedonistic paradise. The kofta was tender and appetising; but over shadowed by the taouk. – Recommended
To completed our Levantine odyssey, from the “Pudding” section we ordered the “Harisa Cake, which was a semolina cake, with coconut and orange blossom syrup. It was a simple yet addictive cake, which was moist and sweet, and delivered a ravishingly delectable taste. – Recommended
The “Muhalabia” was a rose scented milk pudding, with crushed pistachios and orange blossom honey. This dessert regrettably did not agree with me as the rose milk delivered too much of an aromatic taste, that was akin to ingesting perfume. – Not Recommended
The food at Tabun Kitchen remains true to its street food origin, providing authentic Middle Eastern flavours that are presented à la mode. There were a minority of dishes that do require some development, but that is understandable for an establishment that has recently opened. Nevertheless, overall the dishes were fresh, innovative and captivatingly flavoursome, which brought jubilation to both our palate and too our foodie soul.
Tabun Kitchen offers a unique dining experience to halal food adventurers, as there is a greater possibility of finding a needle in a haystack than discovering a restaurant serving authentic Palestinian cuisine in an elegant setting in London.
*Disclaimer: We were invited to review the restaurant.