Uyghur, Turkish and more at Dilara in Finsbury ParkAdvertisement
By Aku FuHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
What used to be a Turkish restaurant has now become a hybrid Uyghur restaurant taken over by new owners, who, though having partly maintained their previous Turkish menu, now prioritise the Uyghur heritage.
The first thing that came to mind when visiting was that slightly offensive line from the BBC’s Goodness Gracious Me show, I think, when going for an “English” they said, “It must be good, since the locals eat here.”
It was full of what looked like Eastern Han Chinese as opposed to Western Uyghur Chinese people, with good turnover. Maybe it’s like South Asians that frequent an Afghan or Iranian restaurant to try alternative food from nearby regions.
Although Dilara appears to serve a bit of everything with not just Chinese food and noodles along side Chinese-cut meat and spices, it isn’t your typical local takeaway either with possibly a bit of Persian style influence from West Asia.
Getting back to the restaurant experience, we tried a variety of dishes, from rice to flat noodles with chicken and a beef noodle dish, to some lamb skewers and samsa – a samosa variant.
What I do need to discuss (another tangent) is something I didn’t really get: szechuan pepper! WTH… this stuff is lethal; people go on about horseradish or wasabi, but szechuan pepper – bite into a pungent seed of this and it feels like you’ve swallowed a bleachy-perfumy floor cleaner. What gives, man!
I can understand a hint of this in the food, but drowning it in these raw peppers – a common Chinese spice – is not my cup of tea.
Maybe it’s just me, but I need an explanation. If you’re South Asian and you’ve grown up on chilies, then you’ll love it; but, someone from the bland West might not get why we eat it.
Anyway, again, back to the point, the chicken and flat noodle dish was tasty, but covered in these “peppers”; so overall a nice big sharing dish which was popular, but I wouldn’t want to finish it – a taste was good enough.
Also not sure why Chinese meat is commonly cut in cross sections. It’s not what I normally get from my butchers, but it’s okay – I like to try new things.
And the samsa, again I couldn’t handle the bleach “pepper” taste, so I left it. Very not me.
The dish of beefy noodles were earthy and nice, and made the noodles fresh, which were thick and chewy. It was what I call mountain food – like it was made high altitude on the steppes of Mongolia over a pot being cooked on an open fire.
As was the biryani-style rice dish – slightly sweet, a bit cold, but nice. Won’t go on about the lamb skewers, which were ok, but the Uyghur Tea was different and cleansing.
Service had a family run feeling to it, with the venue having a normal kebab shop look.
Set in the heart of Highbury, a stone’s throw from Finsbury Park mosque and the Arsenal stadium, this was, unfortunately, a bit far from where I live.
But if I had something like this locally, I can imagine myself coming here once or twice a month with the family or the brothers after Jummah, for a rustic mountain food style beef noodle soup type dish.
Will, however, avoid the szechuan pepper at all costs.
27 Blackstock Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 2JF.
T: +44 (0)20 7226 2446 | W: www.uyghurrestaurant.co.uk
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30-22:00