HomeFeatures#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…
#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

After 10 categories and 59 nominations; the reevaluation of review marks and the tallying of scores; plenty of head scratching, debating and squabbling; and the end of an epoch-defining year – it all comes down to this.

Here are the results of #FtLionAwards 2020 (a final thank you to our sponsors – the UK’s original Karak Chai brand and award-winning restaurant Chaiiwala®).

#FtLionAwards 2020 Shortlist...


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Joint Runner-up: BRONEK’S, London
Joint Runner-up: FLESH & BUNS, London
Readers’ Choice: BRONEK’S, London

The difference between Maison Bab’s menu we reviewed in 2018, which ultimately flattered to deceive, and this recent one by new Head Chef, Mark Armstrong, was remarkable!

Bronek's International Fish Cuisine - Halal restaurant Northfields, LondonSo remarkable, in fact, that: 1) An unprecedented eight of the ten items in our review were “RECOMMENDED” (these items are designated as such due to their exceptional quality); 2) Maison Bab became only the fourth restaurant to score a perfect 5/5 (the last to achieve this feat was #FtLionAwards Best Restaurant 2017 Grand Trunk Road); 3) a duo of drinks, a starter, and a pair of mains were shortlisted for these awards; 4) the Mint Time drink and The Big Zuu kebab wrap have won this year’s Best Beverage and Best Main, respectively. In short, Maison Bab smashed it out of Covent Garden!

Their inclusivity in offering Halal lamb and chicken, that’s all stored, prepped and cooked, with rigorous procedures and practices in place, to ensure zero cross-contamination, is second to none! With the best kebab wraps in London, period, Maison Bab is #FtLionAwards Best Restaurant 2020!

Flesh & Buns Japanese Izakaya Oxford Street Halal restaurant bao bunsIt was so difficult to separate between Bronek’s International Fish Cuisine in Northfields, west London, and Flesh & Buns unique Nikkei cuisine in Oxford Circus, that for the first time, we have two well-deserved joint winners.

The former is just a hidden gem, with owner Bronek using decades-worth of experience to offer a combination of improvised and set menu dishes, with the Grouper Fish easily winning Best Seafood of the Year. What’s more, you all voted for him too!

As for Flesh & Buns, then the fusion on offer at this restaurant was quite something. So much so that while their Korean Fried Wings were runner-up starters, their Kinako Donuts won Best Dessert.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Runner-up: LONDON PIZZA DEPOT, London
Readers’ Choice: THE LEBANESE BAKERY, London

With the distinction of being Central London’s first genuine Uyghur eatery, and having been rated 4.5/5, Turpan pipped its Uyghur rivals Etles in London’s Childs Hill to become our Best Newcomer of the year!

London Pizza Depot Halal restaurant Ilford

London Pizza Depot

We were unanimous that their cuisine was at its most authentic finest. Just sheer comfort food that delivered on simplicity while evoking feelings of homeliness.

London Pizza Depot impressed us not just with their vision, which aims at being the Halal answer to Papa John’s and Domino’s, but also the sheer quality of their pizzas.

The thought that had been put into their menu, including some of the more exotic ingredients they’ve sourced to achieve this standard, was quite something.

As for Readers’ Choice, then the hugely impressive The Lebanese Bakery was your preference for this year.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

WINNER: BALANS – Togarashi Buttermilk Chicken Doughnut
Runner-up: BEEF & BIRDS – Dirty Diana
Readers’ Choice: BEEF & BIRDS – Dirty Diana

Beef & Birds Halal burger restaurant Spitalfields London Brick Lane

Runner-up & Readers’ Choice: Beef & Birds – Dirty Diana

The popular Best Burger category was always going to have one winner this year.

Balans in London Westfield presented a burger the likes of which we haven’t had before! It was innovative and exciting, and had everything an award-winning burger should have. We’d travel to Balans for this alone.

The now defunct Beef & Birds presented a delightfully good burger they had naughtily named the Dirty Diana.

This wasn’t just dirty, but full of that umami-earthy filthiness, courtesy of the mushroom mixture, the mustard and the peppercorn, which had us hooked from the very first bite. A triumph; and one that would have normally strolled to the winners podium, except that you readers believed it should have.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

WINNER: ETLES – Etles Lamb Skewers
Runner-up: BALANS – Steak & Two Eggs Any Way
Readers’ Choice: LAST STOP KEBAB – Last Stop Special

We know they may not look like much, but believe you us, Etles have the Lamb Skewers down to a tee.

Balans International Cuisine Westfield London White City Halal Restaurant Burgers Steaks Breakfast Brunch

Runner-up: Balans’ Steak & Two Eggs Any Way

We also had these at their Walthamstow branch in 2018, and we can honestly say, nothing’s changed. They’re small, sure; but they punch well above their weight.

Delicious and beautifully tender nuggets of expertly barbecued lamb. We just couldn’t look past these skewers a second time round.

And it was Balans’ tremendous plate of Steak & Two Eggs Any Way that comes in second.

The execution of this utterly soft and tender medium steak was such that all we needed for cutting was a normal knife and fork!

It was Last Stop Kebab’s huge Last Stop Special, with all those selection of juicy cuts of meat, that attracted your eyes though. Well done you!


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

WINNER: FLESH & BUNS – Kinako Donuts
Runner-up: RAMO RAMEN – Mango & Peach Pie
Readers’ Choice: BALANS Chocolate Fantasy

Flesh & Buns presented Kinako Donuts which were unlike most of the doughnuts we’ve had or likely to have.

Ramo Raman Halal restaurant Filipino Japanese Camden London

Runner-up: Ramo Ramen – Mango & Peach Pie

Their version was crispy and flaky on the outside, while being hollow on the in, and filled with just enough lightly sweetened Black Sugar Custard without being too sickly.

You lot, however, disagreed, and instead opted for Balans’ more traditional and freshly made Warm Doughnuts, which were presented with an outstanding chocolate sauce and some vanilla flavoured cream.

As for Ramo Ramen’s freshly-prepared Mango & Peach Pie, then who would have thought a ramen shop could be bothered to serve such dainty packages of goodness?

With thin and crispy pastry, lightly dusted in sugar and cinnamon, this contained enough gooey mango and peach fruit to culminate in sumptuous mouthfuls of delight.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

WINNER: BRONEK’S – Grouper Fish
Runner-up: NAMAASTE KITCHEN – Seafood Moili
Readers’ Choice: OOTY Yellow Chilli and Mustard Salmon

Chef Bronek of Bronek’s International Fish Cuisine has repeat customers coming in as much for his improvised plates, nay, platters of fish-based dishes, as much as the set items on the menu.

Namaaste Kitchen Halal Indian restaurant in Camden Town, London

Runner-up: Namaaste Kitchen – Seafood Moili

His experience of various cuisines, including Oriental, West Indian, and South Asian, is what makes these ad lib dishes so popular. And it’s precisely this which shone through to make the Grouper Fish, with the fish carefully deboned and barbecued on the grill before being recombined and presented with a mound of Thai noodles, a platter we won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

As for Namaaste Kitchen’s Seafood Moilee, then this coconut inspired curry is as good as you’re going to get.

Full of deep, meaningful flavour, the enjoyment of the perfectly executed scallops, seabass, and king prawns, represented a chef’s intimate knowledge of spices, and how to masterfully balance these in a way to bring out the best in the seafood used.

But it was the two glistening fillets of Yellow Chilli and Mustard Salmon by fine-dining restaurant OOTY on Baker Street that you readers preferred.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Runner-up: MONO WRAP – Mix-of-3
Readers’ Choice: HAWELI Biryani Mughlai

The Big Zuu kebab may have been a limited edition to this year’s Best Restaurat 2020, but Maison Bab ought to seriously consider bringing this back in a hurry.

Mono Wraps (Halal Turkish) Holloway, London

Runner-up: Mono Wrap – Mix-of-3

Obviously inspired by the man himself – a larger than life personality who has his own popular TV show ‘Big Zuu’s Big Eats’ on British television channel Dave – this has to be the best kebab roll we’ve ever had. It had everything!

The textures and flavours, with umaminess upon umaminess. This is too good not to at least make another return some time in 2021, if not become a permanent part of their menu. An absolute triumph!

Yes; it’s another kebab roll! And this by Mono Wrap, though far more traditional in its makeup than the intricately fancy one of Maison Bab’s, was utter perfection for what it was. In fact, this is an off-the-menu item simply called Mix-of-3 that’s only available for order through quoting ‘Feed the Lion’.

And if there was anything as unanimous as any result in this year’s #FtLionAwards, it was Haweli’s authentically made Biryani Mughlai. We can, of course, understand why, because this was as traditional as you’re going to get in terms of its cooking. Unforgettable!


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Runner-up: THE LEBANESE BAKERY – Muhammara
Readers’ Choice: FLESH & BUNS – Miso Grilled Aubergine

With a perfectly cooked, crispy thin crust, there was more than enough happening with this wonderfully conceived, well executed and cleverly named Mediterranean Mezza to have us going right till the end, with no one single bite being the same.

The Lebanese Bakery Halal restaurant Harrods Knightsbridge London

Runner-up: The Lebanese Bakery – Muhammara

In fact, as vegetarian pizzas go, you simply are not going to get anything much better than this by this year’s newcomer runner-up, London Pizza Depot.

If we tell you that the supercharged Muhammara by The Lebanese Bakery in Harrod’s was actually an appetiser, would that give some indication of how good it was?

An expertly balanced bowl of goodness, with just the right amount of spiciness, followed by a sweet-tangy aftertaste, that we were left floored by. Arguably the best Muhammara we’ve had!

But it was Flesh & Buns’ Miso Grilled Aubergine which grabbed your attention. Well, it did grab ours too, since we considered it “the most intriguing dish of the evening and one that’ll long live in the memory”.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

WINNER: RAMO RAMEN – Miso Baked Shrimp Gyozas
Runner-up: FLESH & BUNS – Korean Fried Wings
Readers’ Choice: FLESH & BUNS – Korean Fried Wings

Cleverly presented in a black bowl to help show off the variety of cheeses’ vibrant orange and yellow hues, this Miso Baked Shrimp Gyozas by Ramo Ramen was such a visually attractive starter.

Flesh & Buns Japanese Izakaya Oxford Street Halal restaurant bao buns

Runner-up: Flesh & Buns – Korean Fried Wings

Given the flavours it packed, with the combination of its cheeses and the shrimp gyozas that offered a hint of the sea, this popular starter of theirs stood out for us as the Best Starter of 2020!

As chicken wings go, these Korean Fried Wings by Flesh & Buns did eventually turn out to be the best wings we’ve had this year (and you lot agreed).

Absolutely delightful these large crispy finger food items, which were smothered in a gorgeously rich and tangy semi-caramelised sauce, with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds to finish off proceedings.


#FtLionAwards 2020 WINNERS…

(Shortlisted Nominees)

Runner-up: BALANS Mango Mule
Readers’ Choice: MAISON BAB Mint Time

Balans International Cuisine Westfield London White City Halal Restaurant Burgers Steaks Breakfast Brunch

Runner-up: Balans – Mango Mule

Truth be told, there weren’t too many drinks had this year which really wowed us. But Maison Bab has a mixologist that’s as talented as we’ve encountered.

All their drinks were as good as you’re going to get, except that their Mint Time was beyond superlatives. As sophisticated a concoction as any mature palate could ever hope to try! What’s more, you lot also considered it a winner…

As for Balans’ Mango Mule, then the balance achieved between the lingering gentle heat of the ginger beer, the sweet-tangy combo of the mango and lime, as well as the fresh undertone of the cucumber, is what defined this one, making it our last runner-up of this year.

Finally, the 3 winners of Chaiiwala’s x4 BREAKFAST VOUCHERS (sent via post and redeemable at any of their 34 branches across the UK (T&C’s apply)) are: yasmin.mohammed.9210 (FB) • sharmin1 (IG) • maisha.xr (IG). Congratulations!

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