Dalston can surely lay claim to the title of the UK’s Turkish kebab shop epicentre.
There’s an absolute shed-load of kebab houses; so many in fact there’s even a place which specialises in testicle kebabs. It’s called Testi*. I kid you not.
Mangal 1 is another of Dalston’s most famous kebab shops. It’s not to be confused with Mangal 2 which is around the corner and where it’s highly likely you’ll see regulars Gilbert & George eating their dinner.
You’ll probably have to queue a little while to get a table at Mangal 1 but I can guarantee you it’s worth the wait.
There are a couple of spectacles to keep you entertained whilst you line up.
The sheer quantity of raw meat in Mangal’s fridge is testament to how many kebabs they sell each night.
Also, it’s fascinating to watch the chef tending to his Ocakbasi, turning and removing the red-hot metal skewers with his bare hands.
Patlican salata (£3.50), a starter of smoky aubergine mixed with chilli, tomato, coriander and a dollop of crème fraiche looks a mess but is my favourite aubergine dish in the world.
It’s served with a bowl of amazing warm bread.
Mangal’s lamb Kebabs are the model for how all others should be – tender and flavoursome, they’re served a juicy pink with just the right lick of smoke from the chargrill.
A mixed grill (£15) comprised of a groaning plateful of lamb shish pieces, herby lamb kofta, lamb fillet with a generous dose of crisp fat, lamb chops and juicy chicken wings.
Mangal’s salad is so good it’s worth shouting about too. A fresh combination of rocket, spiced & salty red cabbage, peppery daikon, tomato, marinated onions and a smoky dressing is the perfect counterpoint to the accompanying meatfest.
Don’t forget the bowl of punchy chilli sauce either.
Mangal 1 is incredible. It’s not fancy. But it’s everything you’d ever want from a kebab house – meat, bread, sauce and salad perfection.
*Testi actually means jug in Turkish so the name isn’t quite so ball-shrinkingly frightening as it initially seems.
Address - 10 Arcola Street, off Stoke Newington Road, London, E8 2DJ
Telephone - 020 7275 8981
Web - http://www.mangal1.com