As a lover of all foods with a Middle-Eastern persuasion, Tabun Kitchen was an easy sell for me. Created by award-winning entrepreneur and film producer Hana Kattan, Tabun Kitchen serves food inspired by Londoner Kattan’s Palestinian roots.
Upon entering this stylish eatery, located in Soho, the first thing my eyes landed upon was the gratuitous display of mini baklava, laid out in neat rows behind glass. My mouth instantly began watering. Our host was very energetic, and led us to our table toward the back of the restaurant, where it was a little quieter. The wall to my right was covered in a blown up picture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the details down to the dishes and cutlery all felt carefully calibrated and trendy.
To start, I had the Moutabal Smoked Aubergine, which came with much more than the menu description promised. Chopped up into tiny cubes and mixed with courgette, sizzling grilled chilli and sweet bursts of pomegranate, it was delicious if rather strong on the salt. But the homemade hummus accompaniment was – as Andraž, my rambunctious eating companion, superlatively declared – “the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life.” Scooped up together with some fried flatbread, it made for a very tasty fusion of flavours, though somewhat overpowering. Andraž started with the more milder choice of Lentil salad, with peppers, coriander and aubergine.
Thankfully my tastebuds recovered enough to enjoy my main, the Lamb Three Ways: marinated ﬁllet, spiced kofta, tahini lamb kofta, spicy shat’ta sauce and toum garlic sauce. All were a delight, though my personal favourite was the marinated fillet – cooked just right, and steeped just enough to complement the natural flavour of the lamb. Andraž opted for the Fatet Jaj Chicken: lemon roasted chicken with rice, hummus sauce, chopped chilli, toasted pine nuts, and sauteed garlic. It’s hard to go wrong with a combination like this, and it was as refreshingly appetising as it sounds.
For our sides we had Khubezeh Kale Salad: warm kale with chilli and cumin, a surprisingly zesty dish, which we both enjoyed very much, along with an Avocado Salad, which was pretty plain and unadulterated, a good thing if you like avocado as we do. I washed all of this down with a Moroccan beer called Casablanca which, if you are a weissbeer and IPA drinker like myself, you will like. Andraž went for the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and loved it.
Finally, dessert: as soon as I saw the word ‘knafeh‘, my decision was made for me; once, in my student days, a Jordanian housemate made homemade knafeh and it changed my life! It is a dessert made from traditional cheese, shredded pastry and orange blossom syrup, with a sprinkling of crushed pistachio. This knafeh was swimming in syrup, which I found a bit too sweet – I prefer it to be lighter on the syrup, preferably with a dollop of cream cheese on top, but the spirit of the knafeh was definitely alive, with the eloquent synthesis of salty, chewy cheesiness, gooey, syrupy sweetness and crunchy shredded pastry. Andraž chose the baklava selection, a fail-safe communion of sweetness and crunch, with some interesting variations. Worth a try if you like baklava.
Overall, a wonderful experience, helped along by the staff who were exceptionally warm and helpful, making us feel special without being uncomfortably overbearing. It was one of my favourite restaurant experiences of late, and highly recommended. I will be back to sample more of the menu.
Price – £71.30 (excluding service).
Service – 5/5.
Ambience – 4/5 Relaxed and stylish.
Bathroom- 3/5 Cool interior design, but a little neglected when I was there.
For reservations and further information please visit: tabunkitchen.com