Etles (Uyghur) – Childs Hill, London
Our first review of a traditional Uyghur restaurant was back in 2018 and Etles in Walthamstow whom we rated a solid 3.5/5.
The experience was a memorable one in that we got to sample dishes from a place which, the owners said, was “the first truly genuine Uyghur restaurant to open in London”. This time though, we return to review Etles’ second restaurant.
Having opened last year, not only is this slightly further afield in North London’s Childs Hill, but distinctly larger too, with a seating capacity of 60 that includes a trio of tables located outside.
And though musical instruments from the region have also been utilised here as wall ornaments, this restaurant’s decorative outlook is certainly more refined than the first’s, with a grey colour scheme being juxtaposed with warmer shades of browns and beiges to create a more modern feel.
Aside from the addition of a few new dishes, the menu here also appears to have been streamlined somewhat, making it far more navigatable than the previous one we encountered.
You should note that, similar to their Walthamstow branch, while alcohol isn’t sold on the premises, Etles does operate a BYO policy.
This intriguing Spiced Beef Tongue, which wasn’t part of the Walthamstow menu when first visited, was an inevitability!
And what an addition it is too, turning out to be one of the dishes of this review; thus setting an exceptionally high bar.
The fact that this was served cold too made it all the more memorable. With the papillae (A-level biology, people!) entirely visible on the surface of the tongue, these stunningly tender slices of soft and chewy meat were enveloped in a tangy-chilli sauce, and went wonderfully with the fresh crispiness of the cucumber and green peppers. This is one dish we’d happily travel back for.
Unlike the first time, where these Tugur Dumplings turned out dense and claggy, these were far more moist and delicate in texture, and filled with a succulent and lightly seasoned minced lamb mixture.
Similar to before, however, it was the accompanying sauce which split the crowd. Hence, while one Lion noted how its ultra-vinegary flavour essentially overwhelmed the delicate taste of the meat, the other two disagreed suggesting that the light sour-chilliness added a nice tangy kick to each mouthful.
With perhaps the same subtly spiced lamb filling as had above, these Samsa Samosa could have impressed had it not been for the pastry.
Not only was the pinched-perimeter overly hard, but the actual encasing fairly dry and crumbly too; thus, betraying a preheated quality.
These guys seem to have their Etles Lamb Skewers down to a tee. A light, smokey edge defined these small, delicious and beautifully tender nuggets of expertly barbecued lamb. Just as exquisite as we remember them!
This simple, yet wholesome Diced Leghmen was exactly that, diced, with firm noodles, crunchy vegetables of spring onions, red peppers and runner beans, and chewy bits of succulent beef, all mixed in a light, tomato sauce, with a touch of spice and heat. Quite nice.
What made this Etles Shredded Beef such an enjoyable one was the freshly-pulled, udon-esque noodles.
Thick and addictively chewy and tender, these long strands of goodness were coated in the juices of the superbly smoked shredded beef and a gently spiced sauce, before everything, including the long slithers of red pepper, being generously sprinkled with sesame seeds. A wonderfully good stir fry!
The last time we had something similar to this sichuan-dominated Etles Stir Fried Tripe was actually during our first visit, where we were served the Da Pan Ji, with its “unpleasantly textured pieces of chopped up Sichuan pepper” resulting in it being adjudged the worst dish had during that review.
This, on the other hand, and in spite of the familiar chilli pepper’s affect in numbing the lips and leaving them tingling, was far better balanced.
The tripe itself, if you’ve never had beef stomach before, has a peculiar soft, elastic-cum-gelatinous texture, which did grow on us. Mixed with plenty of onions, this dish is certainly a fiery one, but nothing that’ll have you sweating.
It’s one of those, however, which we reckon you’ll either find curiously appealing or weirdly outlandish. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a punt for the experience alone.
What defined this chicken stew was the bed of thick and deliciously chewy flat noodles, which were thoroughly enjoyed by two of the three Lions, who insisted that such a variety was necessary to properly stand up against the overall hearty nature of the dish.
With chunky pieces of well cooked chicken mixed in with equally large segments of potatoes, leeks, and red and green peppers, all the condiments were brought together by a deeply flavoured, sichuan-infused, watery broth, which imparted some gentle heat to this impressive Etles Large Plate Chicken.
Not sure if this was by design or not, but we’d wager it wasn’t, given it betrayed all the hallmarks of bread that had been reheated.
Nonetheless, if ordered with any one of the broth-based dishes had above, it manages to serve its purpose in helping to mop things up.
Just as we remember it! If anything though, this one may have been slightly drier and perhaps a tad crumblier on this occasion.
Taste-wise, this Honey Cake is a novel one, with the honey barely discernible.
Otherwise, it was subtly sweet, and a cake which, of the three desserts available on the evening, went best with our order of a pot of tea.
On this occasion, we opted for the mundane Earl Grey; although they do offer a selection of others, including the more traditional.
A homemade Orange Cake whose layer of sponge was well saturated by the sweetness of the citrus fruit.
It was also covered in a thin white layer with a marshmallow-like texture, and generously covered in shavings of chocolate. The best of the bunch, we’d say.
A simple enough Homemade Rice Pudding, with coffee cream having been passed through to add that hint of light bitterness to things.
It also appeared to have either been grilled, or even perhaps blow-torched, to achieve a thin, caramelised layer on top. Pity it couldn’t have been served more elegantly (tin foil; really?)
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
And we're happy to say that, since our last visit back in 2018 where we rated them 3.5/5, improvements have certainly been made. This time, they presented dishes that were better executed, including a few we'd had before, such as those with Sichuan chilli pepper in them, whose potent heat entirely caught us off guard that first time.
Nevertheless, there's still room for progress. If they can take full advantage of their dry bar, which currently appears as more a storage area with a cash register than anything else, while also bringing in better desserts, we can see Etles pushing further towards 4.5 mark.
With all that said, however, if you are looking for something different, then Etles in Child Hill is most assuredly worth a visit (if only for the Spiced Beef Tongue).
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