The Charcoal Kebab House in Wood Green is just like any other Turkish restaurant in London’s cosmopolitan North. With about 20 tables, the omnipresent chicken and lamb donner kebabs, grilled lamb chops, the flagrant stews and of course the shish kebabs sizzling on the charcoal grill.
But I was there for something else. It was almost 30C outside, so a hot soup was off the menu. Or was it? I like soup. The Turkish lamb soup, with yogurt or not is one of my favourites eats out. But with the heat of the summer outside, eating a hot soup seemed not the best of ideas…unless I had a plan. And a plan indeed I had.
So I ordered two Turkish pizzas (lahmacun) and the lamb yogurt soup (paca) at the same time. I did have a plan. By the time I go through the thin flatbreads topped with minced lamb and a vegetable based sauce to which I added the supplied salad, fresh and not too spicy, my soup should be just luke warm, just right for me to attack it with my spoon and some extra heat from the always present chilli peppers.
My lahmacun was as it should be. Thin, light and crispy the topping was good if maybe a lithe on the less side. My soup arrived five minutes later and with a glass of ayran, as the restaurant does not serve any alcohol so a cold Efes Pilsen wasn’t an option, I was all set.
Ten minutes later I push aside the empty plates where just a while ago two lahmacuns and a heap of fresh salad were present, gone now. I call one of the waiters; there is about six staff around all helping. I ask for some more of the white radish (mooli, or daikon radish) which I like so much that I eat the first portion with my lahmacun, and for some more serviettes. It feels wrong to only offer one single paper napkin for two lahmacuns…it’s really finger food.
The soup is almost there, almost good to eat. I make the inventory of the things that go with it and are in front of me. White radish, black olives, fresh and pickled chilli, lemon. I ate this before and did get sometimes fresh juicy white Spanish onions with it as well. I could ask for some but somehow I know this will be enough. The soup is creamy and thick, the lamb tasty, soft, melting in the mouth. It has a touch of chilli oil on the top, I add a squeeze a lemon and I’m on. And half a bowl later I’m stuffed. I knew I won’t be able to finish it; I usually get one or the other but not lahmacun and paca at the same time. But I’m ok, finish my cold, salty and sour ayran and pay my bill. At £9, its fine, I leave my tip, take a quick photo of the guys which are more that happy to oblige and I’m off.
Thank you for lunch guys, we’ll see you again. Thank you my friend they shout back.