£13, Duke’s Brew & Que, 33 Downham Road, N1 5AA
One of our top ten dishes
Read Duke's Brew & Que restaurant review
These sticky ribs are the closest thing you’ll find to the perfect rib outside of the American Deep South. Prepared in an imported wood smoker – which gives the meat an intense smokiness – the juicy ribs are covered in a sweet sticky glaze and nicely charred. We can’t think of them without salivating. To offset the density of the meat, the ribs come with creamy coleslaw and tangy pickles. Messy fingerlickin’ guaranteed!
£9, Mangal Ocakbasi, 10 Arcola Street, E8 2DJ
Most of the grilled skewers on the menu at this busy backstreet Turkish restaurant are great, but the beyti is our favourite for its delicious simplicity. It’s not much more than a kebab of minced lamb, chilli, parsley and garlic, but the skill of the always-occupied barbecue chef and the intense smoky heat of the coals elevate it to something truly special. Some fine Turkish bread and a basic salad is all you need as accompaniment.
Read Mangal Ocakbasi restaurant review
£21, Eyre Brothers, 70 Leonard Street, EC2A 4QX
David and Robert Eyre’s restaurant celebrates the entire Iberian peninsula, revelling in such dishes as feijoada de bacalhau (meaty salt cod and haricot beans), rustic pork casserole, and peri-peri prawns (a favourite of former Portuguese colony Mozambique, where the brothers grew up). But the signature dish is the marinated acorn-fed Ibérico pig, grilled over charcoal and served medium-rare to highlight the lean, succulent qualities of the fillet. The flavour is ballsy: not fancy, but packing a punch derived from confident seasoning, marinating and grilling.
Read Eyre Brothers restaurant review
£6.50, Song Que, 134 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
The pho (noodle soup) at this longstanding Kingsland Road Vietnamese is a staple, but those in the know also order the quail. Service can be perfunctory, queues and crowds are common. But wait patiently at the paper-clad table for the arrival of the blackened, spicy, butterflied bird, served with a sharp citrus dip, and you’ll be won over instantly.
Read Song Que restaurant review
£6.60, Satay House, 13 Sale Place, W2 1PX
This simple family-run restaurant has been offering the full roll-call of traditional Malaysian cooking since 1973. The satays form only a tiny part of the menu, but if there’s one venue in which to enjoy this over-exposed buffet staple, it’s here. Half a dozen skewers of tender, chargrilled meat are served with pieces of cucumber, ketupat (pressed rice, cut into cubes) and a thick peanut sauce that has just the right amount of kick. Gobble it down with moreish pieces of roti (flatbread) for a street-style feast.
Read Satay House restaurant review
£1.50 per skewer, Manchurian Legends, 16 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BE
Pieces of marinated lamb are skewered and fiercely grilled until the juicy fat goes nice and crisp, then judiciously sprinkled with a flurry of salt, cumin seeds and spicy dried red chilli flakes. There are also chicken wings, tofu and beef skewers at this north-eastern Chinese restaurant, but the lamb comes out on top: it’s the kind of dish you could eat piles of, soothed by an ice-cold Tsingtao beer.
Read Manchurian Legends restaurant review
From £9.50, Antepliler, 139 Upper Street, N1 1PQ
Antep is a town famous throughout Turkey for its excellent cooking, particularly kebabs and baklava. This Upper Street venture does justice to its namesake, and the dishes remain true to the flavours of south-eastern Anatolia. The diced lamb filled with spiced butter is rich and tender, while the sogan kebabs – ground lamb with chargrilled shallots topped with pomegranate sauce – have the pleasingly sour-sweet flavours you can find along the Silk Road from Anatolia to Central Asia.
Read Antepliler restaurant review
Four for £6.20, Tayyabs, 83 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU
Chefs have been sending out peerless Punjabi grills at this busy restaurant for 40 years, and the food is still as good as ever. Go at the weekend or for lunch to avoid the often boisterous crowds and wait for a table; once you get one, make sure that a plate of these smoky, sticky, spicy, gingery, charred and fiery chops is the first thing you order.
Read Tayyabs restaurant review
Pitt Cue Co, 1 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RB
The peripatetic Pitt Cue Co truck parked up at the South Bank in 2011, but now there's a permanent venue in Soho it’s easier to try some of the best pulled pork in town. The strands of slow-cooked, sweet, smoky meat, partnered with sharp coleslaw and chilli sauce, were perhaps more evocatively tasty when eaten out of a waxed tub from a van, but the dish is still mighty fine.
Read Pitt Cue Co restaurant review
£1.80 per skewer, Bincho, 16 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TL
Chicken necks (‘seseri’ in Japanese) are a favourite of the Bincho yakitori-ya staff, despite the painstaking preparation – about eight chicken necks are required to make just one skewer. Tiny strips of the tender, tasty flesh are carefully removed with a sashimi knife before being skewered, grilled and very lightly dressed with sweet-salty tare dipping sauce. Request the dish when booking.
Read Bincho restaurant review
Veal chop with lemon and spinach: £16, Zucca, 184 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
This was one of the first dishes we had at Sam Harris’s Bermondsey Italian restaurant, and we still order it every time we visit. A bone-on veal chop is slapped on to a blistering hot grill until it has grill marks. It arrives simply adorned with lemon and spinach, which is all it needs; perfectly seasoned, the flesh is rosy pink and each chew releases a mouthful of flavoursome juices. As with the best of Italian cookery, the beauty of this dish is its simplicity.
Read Zucca restaurant review