Ok so this has nothing to do with the actual Turkish Delight (I don’t even like the stuff)! But back in December last year, I was hearing a buzz around a new Turkish-Cypriot restaurant that had opened up in Shoreditch and naturally I was curious, so I thought I’d check it out with some good friends of mine.
I arrived at Oklava early and was welcomed by the most lovely waitress, who took really good care of us the whole night. I love going to places with friendly, happy and helpful staff, because that’s what makes the dining experience that little bit more special. She made some great suggestions and gave her honest opinion on the dishes as she explained that the staff had recently had a tasting session, which I think is wonderful. I know it sounds like common sense, but I’ve been surprised many times by how little some people know about the food they’re serving. So we were definitely off to a good start!
The complimentary bread and ‘butter’ arrived and I immediately knew I was going to like this place. I have never tried anything like it. The Medjool date butter topped with sea salt flakes, was honestly, one of the best things I’d eaten in 2015. I could have easily just sat there and eaten this all night. Bread and butter is my weakness, as I may have pointed out in a previous post, so discovering a new type was amazing. Hats off to Chef Selin Kiazin because it is truly delicious. I did actually end up popping into Selfridges a week later to grab myself a box to try at home. I have to say, it wasn’t exactly like the one I had at the restaurant (and it was a tad pricey), but that could’ve just been because it wasn’t as smooth and ‘whipped’ as the one at Oklava.Anyway, back to Oklava! We ordered a selection of tapas style dishes to share and tried the courgette, feta & mint fritters. I’m a sucker for fritters. I love fritters of all kinds, so this was an obvious, tasty choice.Marinated & candied aubergine purée with yoghurt and smoked almonds. I liked the contrast of textures and I often wonder why I don’t cook more aubergine, it’s such a delicious and versatile vegetable.
The chilli roast cauliflower, red onion, parsley and pistachios was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Packed with flavour and a nice balance of hot and cold made this dish stand out for me. I know roasted cauliflowers were quite a big thing back in 2015, but as this was really yummy, I hope this trend sticks around for a bit.These fried Cyprus potatoes with chilli salt, garlic & herb mayo were so moreish. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of chunky potatoes, chunky chips, etc, but this was actually really nice. I liked the texture of the potatoes, along with the little chilli kick. I would’ve loved to have a bit more mayo, but that’s because I love all mayos and dips.As the meat wasn’t halal, I wasn’t able to try any of the meat dishes, but my friend ordered the Çemen lamb cutlets and seemed to really enjoy them. It smelt delicious!My other friend ordered the sea bass which came with caramelised shallot purée and a pomegranate dressing. It looked divine and it tasted good from what I tried.
I went for the monkfish, which I know is generally an expensive fish, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that small. It was however beautifully presented with citrus, Urfa chilli dressing and coriander. It was SO GOOD. I love the meaty texture of monkfish, which makes up for me not being able to eat meat in some places. The chilli and citrus combo was mind blowing, I loved it. I just wish I had a bit more of it as the big bone in the middle meant less fish in that portion.To end our meal, we had to try the desserts of course. We ended up ordering 2 to share.
We had the pistachio sponge, caramelised white chocolate, barbeque quince and crispy filo. I loved the caramelised white chocolate, it was delicious! The pistachio sponge wasn’t particularly special, but the barbeque quince was interesting, as I’ve never eaten quince cooked like this before.We also tried the spiced rice pudding brûlée with roasted pineapple chunks and lime. It usually has rum jelly as well, but they were kind enough to serve that on the side as I wouldn’t be able to eat it, but my friends said it was pretty strong (in a good way I assume). I quite liked this dessert because the rice pudding was warming but at the same time, the pineapple and lime added a freshness to each bite. The brûlée part was a nice twist to it and it didn’t add too much sweetness to the dish, which was good.I loved the presentation and the thinking that went into each of the dishes I tried. It was refreshing to experience a different take on Turkish food, which usually just includes a lot of grilled meats and kebabs. The flavour combinations were really interesting and they brought a uniqueness to each dish which I really appreciated.
As I mentioned, the service from our waitress was exemplary and I’d love to go back to try some of the other dishes I wasn’t able to try last time.