Eager for some Turkish or Mediterranean food on a Sunday night, we scoured the Google Search results to find something suitable in the immediate neighbourhood. Turns out, not a lot is open in the City on a Sunday night, but we found a restaurant called Yalla Yalla on Shoreditch High Street. Their website showed a couple of permanent locations, but their Shoreditch location was tagged as a “pop up”.
I didn’t give it much thought. I’ve read of other pop ups, and they’re usually restaurants which take over other restaurant locations for a limited period, so assumed that would be the case with Yalla Yalla. We were anticipating something a little bit funky and different…..
But none of us were expecting this. A food truck on a car park lot, with red nylon curtains and scaffolding roof:
Yalla Yalla, is a common Arabic expression meaning “come on” or “hurry up” – but is actually an abbreviation of classical Arabic words “Ya Allah” literally meaning “Dear God”.
At that was exactly our reaction when we arrived!
It was a little bit more rustic than we anticipated, and we almost turned on our heels and ran in the opposite direction. But we were meeting other people — so we couldn’t leave, and while we waited we checked out the food they were serving. It looked delicious, so we decided to stick around – and we’re all glad we did.
Yalla Yalla had small yellow tables and chairs for their patrons, and was sharing the space with Engine; another food truck.
We ended up sitting on an Engine bench and crate for dinner, but ordered from Yalla Yalla’s menu of traditional Middle Eastern appetizers like Hommos, Baba Ghannouj, Tabboule and Falafel, all served independently or as part of a meze platter. Followed by vegetarian wraps, and Chicken or Lamb Shawarma (which were grilled meat served with tomato, red pepper and parsley). The menu was an abbreviated version of the ones offered at the two other permanent Yalla Yalla locations, but there was more than enough to choose from.
The wine menu was also limited, but we settled for copious bottles of “Les Gourmets Blanc Clos St. Thomas” … a Lebonese white wine, which hit the spot!
All of the Yalla Yalla locations serve Beirut Street food and their first, 28 seat location, opened in Soho in 2008. It was a resounding success, so a couple of years later, another restaurant opened just off Oxford Street. Jad and Aga, the owners have opted for an informal Lebanese menu, with Middle Eastern influences, and based on the crowds their pop-up attracted on Sunday night .. another permanent location isn’t far behind.
If you’re in the East End… why not pop behind the nylon curtain….