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Imad’s Syrian Kitchen

  • Restaurants
  • Soho
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Photograph: Issy Croker
    Photograph: Issy Croker
  2. Photograph: Issy Croker
    Photograph: Issy Croker
  3. Photograph: Issy Croker
    Photograph: Issy Croker
  4. Photograph: Issy Croker
    Photograph: Issy Croker

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

When I arrived at Imad’s Syrian Kitchen off Carnaby Street on a Thursday night, the place was packed. People were dunking pillowy pitta bread into creamy hummus wherever I looked. The tables are close to each other, so if you’re not careful you may elbow someone as you reach for your third scoop of pomegranate-flecked baba ganoush, but that makes for a buzzy atmosphere. The room is inviting, with large blue-framed windows looking out at the bustling bars and restaurants of Kingly Court. 

Founder Imad Alarnab ran three successful restaurants and a number of juice bars and cafés back in his native Damascus. His businesses were destroyed in the Syrian war, and he made the perilous journey to the UK via Calais, where he slept outside a church and cooked for his fellow refugees. In 2015, he arrived in London and ran supper clubs while fundraising for the refugee charity Choose Love. Eventually, he crowdfunded £50,000 to launch his first restaurant.

The flat, deep-fried discs of falafel crunch in the most satisfying way imaginable

Imad’s Syrian Kitchen offers updated versions of traditional Middle Eastern dishes – fattoush, kebabs, shish tawook (grilled chicken strips) – as well as innovations such as vegan hindi, a dish of grilled squash and pine nuts, and a halloumi noodle salad. And of course, falafel. But these aren’t the stodgy balls you get in supermarket wraps: they’re flat, deep-fried discs studded with sesame seeds that crunch in the most satisfying way imaginable, and will ruin pretty much all other falafel for you. The sharihat ghanam – lamb fillet with sundried tomatoes – was a standout, the acidity of the tomatoes cutting through the rich and slightly smoky meat. 

Be sure to leave room for dessert. The baklava was among the best I’ve had – firm and fresh with a nutty crunch and no syrupy gloopiness – while the Syrian ice cream is worth a try, although its chewiness may be off-putting to fans of soft European gelato. 

Service was friendly and efficient, but not that speedy, and the staff were knowledgeable about the dishes. Pricing is relatively standard for this part of London: expect to spend around £35 a head, not including alcohol.

One word of advice: the kitchen closed relatively early on the night we visited (we were asked to make our final orders at around 9pm), so go early, especially if you have a hearty appetite.

The vibe Busy but laidback.

The food Middle Eastern dishes with a modern twist.

The drink A short organic and natural wine list. End the meal with a Syrian chai tea.

Time Out tip Get the falafel. It’s so crunchy and delicious you’ll never want falafel from anywhere else.

Written by
Sirin Kale


Top Floor, Kingly Court
Carnaby St
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