May 31

Yalla Yalla Pop Up, London

Yalla YallaBeirut Street Food

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 scape 2Yalla Yalla scape

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!yalla yalla beirut street food

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 Seating2

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.

Yalla Yalla meal

 If you’re in the East End… why not pop behind the nylon curtain….

Yalla Yalla Website


  1. Imogen


    I am a postgraduate researcher working at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a research project about what the workplace can learn from theatre design in terms of creating psychologically and visually rich spaces. I’m in the process of writing up the research for publication in a book this coming October, and I’d very much like to use one of your images of the Yalla Yalla pop up in the book to illustrate the research.

    It will be a small academic run published by Black Dog – who specialise in art and design books – and you would obviously be fully credited. If you’re happy to give us permission to use the image, please could you provide me with a high resolution version of the image (minimum 250 dpi) and let me know how you would like it to be credited.

    The details of the book are as below:

    Title: Life of Work: What Office Environments Can Learn from the World Around Us
    Pages: Approx. 144 p
    Print: Initial print run of 1000 copies
    Size: Approx. 200x200mm page size
    Publisher: Black Dog Books
    Launch date: 22 October 2014

    Many thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,

    Imogen Privett

    1. Roving Jay

      Hi Imogen … I have no problem with you using my images, but I took them with an iPhone – and I’m not sure what resolution they’re at… will take a look and email you… thanks, Jay
      Roving Jay recently posted..True Blue Madonna for a dayMy Profile

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