Oklava

Restaurants, Turkish Shoreditch
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Oklava is the first permanent restaurant from Selin Kiazim, who has run a number of successful popups in London.

I know what you’re thinking. Turkish + Shoreditch = kebab shop. But while the streets east of Old Street are indeed paved with doner meat, Oklava is something quite different. Firstly, the look is contemporary chic (in this part of EC2, one man’s ‘Shoreditch’ is another man’s ‘City fringes’), with an open kitchen, sleek designer furnishings and posh scented candles in the loos.

As for the cooking, Selin Kiazim may have gone back to her Turkish-Cypriot roots, but she’s done it in a modish, creative way, showing off skills first learned at fusion joint Providores and, later, its casual spin-off Kopapa. Plates are small, made for sharing, and bursting with flavour: mostly bold and southern-Med-meets-Middle-Eastern, but with dashes and splashes from other parts of the planet, too. 

One such bit of gorgeous was our chargrilled monkfish. Glistening and perfect, it sat on a gleaming white plate, surrounded by cheffy swirls, not just of a slightly bitter orange caramel, but of an umami-tastic combo of smoky Turkish urfa chilli plus honey, soy, and just a hint of fish sauce. Swoon. Something billed as ‘chilli garlic chicken with a za’atar crumb’ turned out to be TFC (Turkish fried chicken). She’s down with the kids, is our Selin. Here the succulent meat was encased in herby, lemony breadcrumbs, deep-fried and served with a potent lime mayo. It’s brilliant. 

But the kick-ass dish was the lahmacun – a kind of Turkish pizza, with a fantastically crisp flatbread base and warmly spiced minced lamb topping. Though it was already delicious, when we observed tradition and wrapped it up with pieces from the accompanying salad (a zingy, crunchy mix of pickled cauliflower, parsley, red onion and baby gem) it turned into a hot wrap to crush all other hot wraps into oblivion.  

Only two things – a cauliflower dish overpowered by chilli, with an odd metallic aftertaste, and another of ‘marinated and candied aubergine purée with yoghurt and smoked almonds’, which didn’t live up to its fancy description – left us feeling flat. But we’ll let these go, especially as service was exceptional, the ambience (even on a drizzly Tuesday night) vibrant, and prices so reasonable. Who needs kebab shops, anyway?

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Oklava
Contact:
Address: 74 Luke St
London
EC2A 4PY
Transport: Tube: Old Street
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £105.
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Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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LiveReviews|9
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Tastemaker

Selin is a genius and a real ambassador of Turkish Cypriot food. I was delighted to finally be able to try her food at her own restaurant (having tasted her food at an event at Providores where she trained). The dishes were much more filling then I expected, or maybe it was just that I was too greedy and over-ordered. I could not help myself seeing the delicious menu and also verifying with my eyes as they came out and landed on other tables with gleeful diners. I was lucky enough to sit at the counter and watch the almost predominantly female kitchen in action. The service was top notch and the meal is extremely reasonably priced. I highly recommend it and will definitely take visitors there once again!


Tasty posh Turkish food... Really enjoyed everything we had. It's not cheap and most Turkish restaurants are more affordable but you got to see Turkish food on the next level.

tastemaker

Loooove Oklava. The food is very special and the atmosphere brilliant. Our waitress was knowledgeable and so friendly. The lahmahcun was the best I've ever had, I could eat the medjool date butter all day long and the house red wine was excellent! We had a wonderful night out - what a special restaurant! Book if you can, the restaurant's tiny.


Wonderful spot, with very inventive and tasty food. The special dishes are always worth a try. Good for a group of up to 4, but for singles or pairs it's worth sitting at the counter and watching how the magic happens.

Tastemaker

OMG. The chili-roasted cauliflower with red onion, parsley and pistachios. OMG. I ordered it twice it's so good! My friend and I also split the roasted pumpkin and mozzarella flatbread, which was served almost like bruschetta. The pumpkin was incredibly creamy and full of flavour, a wonderful contrast with the mozz. It's served with salad and pickled red cabbage. As a starter, my friend and I also had the whipped feta, candied pumpkin and chili crostini. It's an exquisite, rich mouthful. The service was a tiny bit iffy at the start but then quickly improved (shocking in London). I would gladly return here, as I was also really interested in other menu items. I would suggest coming earlier in the week as we did as you're more likely to get a reservation.

tastemaker

Myself and three friends had the absolute pleasure of dining in Oklava last Friday night and could not recommend it highly enough. Everything about the meal was fantastic, from the accommodating reservations procedure (I upped the booking from three to four relatively last minute) to the attentive and knowledge FoH staff, from the seemingly endless supply of delicious dishes (genuinely nothing we had - meat, veg, bread or sweet - was a dud, such great flavour combinations, all tastes so fresh) to the friendly and skillful kitchen staff. Put simply, if you've not been yet, go! (Try and grab a seat at the Kitchen Counter, genuinely mesmerising!) I'll be heading back as soon as I can. 


Easily my favourite new restaurant of 2016.

Tastemaker

I am always excited about Turkish food, especially when it is with a modern/ fusion twist. I went to Oklava with such excitement after hearing so much hype about it and seeing photos all over instagram from foodies of London. To be fair, the service was very nice and the waitress asked to explain the menu: they offer on the house sparkling water  (sort of Turkish hospitality i guess ). The restaurant has a cool vibe, with an open kitchen where you can see the pide oven and chefs working behind the counter. I started with the famous medjool date butter: the taste was to the point (i don't even like dates) but the big pieces of butter in the mix was a little off-putting. I ordered lamb meatballs, which came with a sour cherry dressing. I had lahmacun (the Turkish pizza with mince meat on it) as main, which was disappointing because it was thin and crispy as it should be but it was burnt and didn't have enough topping and was served with pickled veggies which weren't that great. Would i go back? Definitely, to try not so classic Turkish menu items, to give it another chance because i appreciate the effort put into creating such a concept in the middle of hip London where Turkish food is known only as a greasy kebab eaten after 2am.

Staff Writer

Modern Turkish Cypriot food. A new concept wonderfully done. lovely service, beautiful flavours. Will come back soon.


Opened in November 2015, Oklava is a wonderfully contemporary Turkish restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch. While there can sometimes be issues when restaurants have just opened, the food, ambiance, and service at Oklava was on par with more seasoned London restaurants. 

We started with the grilled Hellim (Halloumi) with Lemon, Honey and Oregano and the Courgette, Feta and Mint Fritters (both delicious) then we had the Fried Cyprus Potatoes with Chilli salt, garlic and herb mayo, the Chilli Roast Cauliflower (pictured bottom left), the Marinated & Candied Aubergine (pictured bottom right), the Baked Lamb Fat Potatoes with a Fried Duck Egg and Sherry Vinegar Caramel (pictured top right -this dish was my favourite), the Cheese Sauce Pide (pictured bottom middle) and the Chilli-Garlic Chicken. For dessert we tried the Spiced Rice Pudding brulee (this dish was my least favourite) and Pistachio Sponge (pictured top left). 


The entire meal, plus a bottle of wine and 4 glasses of dessert wine came to £35 per person. Will definitely be visiting again soon!