update feb/10_ seems like since the TimeOut review the prices have gone a bit up... Also the menu is a mere selection compared to the take away one(??) hmm hmm
Reserve your table at Zengi Book a table
City of London, London
44 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT
- Aldgate East Station (0.2 km)
- Aldgate Station (0.3 km)
- Liverpool Street Station (0.7 km)
- Contact us:
020 7266 0700
- Opening hours:
Mon - Sun: 10:00 - 0:00
6 reviews of Zengi in English
Absolute Gem!!! I went to Zengi yesterday, a stones throw away from Aldgate East and Whitechapel, and loved everything about this place. This restaurant is quite small, spread over two floors- a small ground floor occupied mostly by the open kitchen and an intimate downstairs. The staff were extremely friendly, happy to chat away with me in arabic and explain all to my companion in English.
All that aside, the food was delicious! A fusion of Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish cuisine- everything we had was cooked to perfection. We had the Babaghanoush with fresh stone baked bread, Boreg, Shish Tawouk and the Arbil Kofta Shish. I ate to the point where I could no longer move, then to top it off, a mint tea and strawberry and mint sheesha- well a girl needs to digest her food!
If you want the fancy lebanese restaurants of Mayfair, then this may not hit the spot, but if you want good Arabic/ Turkish food- really good, then this is the one.
One of the best restaurants I have been to- yes I said it, one of the best! The best bit? I didn’t expect it to be so good!
Me and my friends went here on a Saturday and had a great time. We ordered a selection of mezze's. The foul meddemas was especially good. For mains most us ordered a selection of grilled meats (the mixed grill is good value), although one person ventured fom the herd and ordered a vegeterian main "bahmia" which was an tamato and okra based dish which was flavoursome. We found the service pretty good, especially the warm fresh bread that we got pretty much as soon as we sat down!
Complete disaster, went there as a party of 27 (prebooked) for a birthday celebration. After 1 hrour 30 minutes (with not so much as a bread roll) we all walked out. Drinks, incluiding water had to be requested multiple times, one small table that was served found all bread to be frozen inside, burnt out. These people have NO idea how to run a restaurant.
A restaurant to wind down, chill out with your friends/date and enjoy the food. The place is split over two floors (ground and downstairs), serving Turkish/middle eastern food, Efes beer and great atmosphere. The variety of tables give you a good choice whether you want to grab a quick meal and sit by the table or spend an evening on cushions Turkish style. They also have secluded ones under arches for 6 for intimate dinning.
Appart from the lovely staff the main character to look out for is the very cute chef who tends to run around and fill up your basked with freshly stone-baked bread or just drops a random side dish on your table (free of charge!)
I asked the chef to serve us a selection of hot and cold mezze and what a lovely feast that was. The bill came up to £30 for 4 beers and vast amount of food... what more can you ask for!
Comment 1 comment on this review
Bashi K., 8 February 2010:
Zengi - Pics @ The London Foodie
After reading rave reviews by Time Out a couple of weeks ago, Dr G and I decided to visit this newly opened Turkish/Iraq restaurant on Commercial Street, E1. I normally go to Green Lanes, particularly “Antepliler” for my fix of Turkish food, but we were curious to try a local BYO place with some interesting Iraq dishes on their menu.
The entrance is not the most attractive part of this new restaurant, and I firstly wondered where we would be sitting as there is little sitting area at that level. The basement is where Ali, the owner’s son, brought us to, and we were pleased to find a warm and comfortable dining area there.
The décor is simple but elegant, with white, arched alcoves furnished with colourful cushions & hanging lanterns creating a relaxed and private ambience. I don’t normally like eating at lower ground (unless it is Hakkasan) but was pleasantly surprised to find such a well furnished and cosy spot.
Ali was very attentive, and took great care and time explaining the various dishes on the menu to us. Soon after placing our order, he brought us a basket with freshly stone-baked bread which was hot and delicious.
The first of the three mezze dishes that we ordered to arrive was “Mutabel” @ £3.50, an aubergine based dip with yoghurt, garlic and tahini. Despite the somewhat unappetising look of the dish, it tasted good and had a creamy and nutty finish from the tahini.
The second mezze was “Soudah” @ £4, a plate of fried chicken livers with onions, chopped peppers and coriander. I could also taste cinnamon and cayenne pepper in the spicy sauce although not much else. Despite loving chicken livers, I felt that this dish was a bit disappointing, good but not outstanding, and a tad dry.
The “Mosul Kibbeh” @ £3.50, a traditional dish of northern Iraq was an interesting choice. I had eaten kibbeh many times before but never in this way. Similar to a flattened stuffed croquette, a thin layer of cracked wheat had been filled with spiced meat, almonds and sultanas and fried.
I really wanted to enjoy this dish but I was slightly underwhelmed by it – I felt that the fried cracked wheat “envelope” was hard and that there was not enough filling to justify all the chewing.
For main, I went for “Char-grilled Lamb Chops” @ £9.50 - this is my favourite dish at Antepliler, so I ordered this to find how Zengi’s version would compare. Zengi’s chops were delicious, well-seasoned, and perfectly cooked but unfortunately there was not enough meat on them. At £9.50 I felt that the quantity of meat was a bit stingy, a problem that I never encountered at Antepliler.
Serving them on a large white plate (when there is not enough food to cover it) did not help either – the accompaniments, salad and rice, were passable - the salad did not look as vibrant and fresh as it could have done but it tasted fine.
“Dr G’s “Zengi Grill” @ £11.50 was a better choice. This consisted of pieces of lamb, kufta (or kofta) lamb shish kebab, and chicken tavouk (pieces). The meat was again well seasoned, very tender and perfectly cooked.
We were served two small sauces (one garlicky and creamy and another spicy tomato relish) which accompanied the meat well, really bringing out the lamb flavours. Ali also brought us some delicious pickles which had been made in the premises, and refilled our bread basket at no extra charge.
I noted in their menu a “Zengi Burger” @ £6.50 which unfortunately I was too full to try. According to the menu, it is made of grilled lamb burger, with sliced falafel and halloumi cheese topped with sweet pepper sauce and pickles in a stone baked sesame roll. It sounds very yummy, and I will most certainly come back for that.
Ali brought us our bill, and I noted that he accidentally overcharged us on the lamb chops but had forgotten to add the Mosul Kibbeh or the hot bread to the list of items. The total bill was therefore £32 for two excluding service.
I enjoyed my visit to Zengi and would like to return specially for their Turkish Burger and some of the other Iraq dishes I did not try this time. Ali was knowledgeable and passionate about his food which helped me to appreciate the menu and the food on offer.
Verdict - Despite the teething problems, in my opinion, Zengi offers good quality food at very reasonable prices. Being a BYO makes it an even more affordable option although portion sizes and quality of accompaniments should be looked at. Excellent service. Recommended.
Zengi is a newly-opened Middle Eastern restaurant in Shoreditch, located on Commercial Street, near Whitechapel. It's been open for three months now, and has, evidently, just acquired its alcohol license. Wahey!
The day I visited the restaurant, Sam, the owner, and also the sole worker there for the day (as it was Boxing Day), was baking bread. I loved freshly-baked bread, so that was quite a treat.
As there were quite a few of us, and it was our first time there, we spoke to Sam and asked him to just bring us whatever was good. He told us he'd settle the starters, and asked us to choose the mains. I went for arbil kufta and bahmia stew, two of the Iraqi specialties on the menu. I figured I'd go for something unusual rather than go for the typical Turkish dishes. Besides, Sam hails from Iraq, so such dishes should be good, yes?
I'm happy to report that my assumption was correct.
The starters - hummous, a bean dish of some kind (fava?), stewed vegetables, falafel and some others - were all good. The main dishes, fantastic. In fact, Sam brought out so much food that we were all incredibly full even before the meat came out!
By the end of the night, I couldn't take any dessert, and we rounded off the meal with a round of Turkish coffee and tea. If you're a coffee lover, try the Turkish coffee. It's incredible. Almost chocolate-y!
By this time, I was getting a little worried about the bill. After all, I had no idea how much food we'd actually ordered, and we'd definitely drunk quite a fair bit. And again, I was pleasantly surprised. The bill came up to just about £20 per person inclusive of service. I'd wager each person had eaten probably around £12 worth of food. Freakin' fantastic!
A wonderful meal, a friendly owner, not-too-bad ambience all for £20. Where in central London can you get that?
A plus point for some people in my group - although not for everyone - was that because you could smoke shisha inside the restaurant, smokers could go over to that area and smoke without having to go out into the cold.
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