I always like to step out of my comfort zone and try new foods and cuisines. When I heard about Yalla Yalla and the variety of different Lebanese mezze shared platters they offer, it was the perfect opportunity to bring a friend and try as many plates as we could.
The menu is extensive and there’s plenty of food not only to share, but main courses if you’d prefer a dish for yourself. We decided to stick with the shared mezze dishes instead.
The interior of Yalla Yalla, if arriving on a busy evening, can feel packed and a little claustrophobic. Unfortunately for us when we arrived the only two seats available were the high dining chairs which involved knocking elbows with the neighbours. I highly recommend asking for a table, as the chairs were incredibly uncomfortable and we found ourselves leaning against the chair for most of the evening.
The first dish was a recommendation from my friend called Hommos Shawarma which is hummus topped with marinated lamb. I’m a big fan of hummus and would generally stick to ordering the dish on its own, however, the dish was surprisingly delightful as the marinated lamb was juicy and tender, and the servings were pretty generous. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough pitta bread!
I chose baba ghannouj (grilled aubergine puree) which was served with pomegranate and lemon juice. I didn’t enjoy this as much as the hummus as the aubergine was too earthy and there wasn’t enough lemon juice to sharpen or enough pomegranate to sweeten the dish.
We added a bit more meat to the table with the soujoc; spicy Lebanese sausages. The sausages were cooked well with a slight hint of lemon juice, however, there was far too much parsley covering the sausages. Personally, I found the dish a little average and uninspiring.
I love grilled halloumi and couldn’t steer away from ordering a classic which was served with pitted olives, tomatoes and fresh mint. The dish was delicious with the halloumi grilled to perfection. The sharpness from the olives also come through beautifully.
The stand out dish for the evening was the Sawda Djej; sautéed chicken livers. Another recommendation from my friend and also one of the 100 best dishes by Time Out. If it hadn’t been for this, I probably would never have ordered the dish. The flavours worked harmoniously together; not too much earthyness and the liver was still plump, moist and perfectly cooked. The pomegranates sweetened the dish whilst the mint to enhanced and freshened the dish overall.
The most disappointing dish of the evening was the makale samak; deep-fried calamari, white bait and tiger prawns. The batter was dry in parts and underseasoned and had a pale yellow coating that wasn’t visually appealing either. The mix of fried seafood was hit and miss with a lot of the white bait fish having a slimy, scaly texture. The portion size was incredibly generous but a lot of it went to waste.
Yalla Yalla is an interesting restaurant and if you’re new to Lebanese cuisine and want to try something a little different this is a great place to start. Just don’t sit on the high chairs…
– Yalla Yalla, Fitzrovia