After a stellar performance by Fulham at Craven Cottage the other night (Fulham 2 v Manchester United 2) we left the game starving and keen to satisfy our hunger at a friends local ocakbasi. An ocakbasi is a turkish grill restaurant serving a variety of grilled skewered meats and bread. As north Londoners, we usually make the trip to Dalston Kingsland for our meat fix, but with 3 branches in west London Best Mangal seems to be the top choice in the west.
Our visit was to the West Kensington branch and even a block away we could already smell the aroma of the grill. With a rotating doner in the front window you could easily mistake this restaurant as an ordinary kebab shop but the grill is actually hidden near the back where there is a decent sized seating area.
With the usual variety of skewered meats on offer, we ordered a mixture of adana (lamb mince skewers), chicken wings, quail, a doner kebab roll as well as a cacik (cucumber yoghurt) to satisfy the hunger of 5 hungry Fulham fans.
What I love most about mangal restaurants is that your order is picked from the window and cooked fresh. If you weren’t hungry already, you sure will be after you’re left standing there salivating through the window until it is ready.
Apparently our friends are well-remembered as the couple who always waits outside (to avoid smelling like the grill), as the friendly men behind the counter gave the usual signal (a knock on the glass window) when our food was ready. After our meats were packaged we made the quick dash to our friends home eager to get our kebab on. In addition to the meats, the restaurant packed up a huge serving of fresh bread as well as a large container of fresh salad.
The bread was tasty and fresh, but disappointingly not hot from the oven as you often find it served in Dalston Kingsland. The doner was really tasty, wrapped up in a thin fresh bread and served with salad. There was a lot of meat going on in here and the lamb was not too fatty.
Our adana was cooked well and the juicy lamb mince was nice and moist throughout. The meat was nicely marinaded and didn’t have a lamb ‘smell’ that lamb sometimes has.
Quail was probably the highlight of our meal – juicy tender halves with a slight charcoal char and at a much higher standard than what I’ve eaten in Dalston Kingsland. Our chicken wings were marinaded, again slightly charred and a well sized portion.
All this charcoal meat went nicely with a few beers to wash it all down.
If you come to Best Mangal looking to satisfy a meat craving then you really can’t do wrong. The man at the grill seems to be particularly skilled as none of our meat was overly charred or cooked. All meat dishes fall in the £5-7 range, but are served in fairly generous portions alongside plenty of bread and salad.
I haven’t yet gotten a chance to try the ocakbesi restaurants in Golders Green and Stoke Newington so I don’t know how it compares with London’s apparent best, but from what we ordered it was definitely up there with Mangal Ocakbasi and Mangal II in Dalston Kingsland.
A mean grill and tasty kebab sober or otherwise. Our takeaway meal easily fed five and set us back a mere £32.