Take yourself on a journey of discovery
Palestinian restaurant dishes up plenty of surprises you are unlikely to have tasted before
12 January, 2018 — By Tom Moggach
Tabun Kitchen, in Berwick Street, has white walls and white tables, softened here and there by strips of green (echoing the Palestinian flag)
JERUSALEM hit the headlines last month, so this seemed the moment to try Tabun Kitchen, a Palestinian restaurant in Berwick Street that serves a special menu from the holy city.
I believe there’s just a handful of Palestinian restaurants in London – and this venture trades in the heart of Soho. The owner is Hanan Kattan, an award-winning film producer and entrepreneur who’s been itching to apply her formidable skills to the restaurant trade. Her mother’s family hails from Jerusalem and her father’s from Bethlehem – so Kattan missed their style of authentic home cooking.
Dishes include Udssieh, a comforting mix of silky hummus and warm fava beans traditionally served for breakfast.
Maneesh are pizza-like Palestinian flatbreads, stretched and baked to order in their “Tabun” oven sited by the bar.
The chefs roast Musakhan Chicken with flakes of tingly-sour sumac berries and spike Prawns Gaza-Style with chilli and garlic.
Intrigued? You should be. The menu at Tabun Kitchen is sprinkled with surprises, many of which you’re unlikely to have tasted before.
The restaurant itself is on the dinky side: a narrow, deep room seating around 30 upstairs (your best bet for atmosphere) and another few dozen in the basement. A recent refurb has added a 12-seat bar along the left-hand side.
Cocktails include the Ramallah and The Sufi, a blend of whiskey, sage honey, grapefruit and lime juice.
Overall, it’s a bright and modern space – a touch stark, perhaps – with white walls and white tables, softened here and there by strips of green (echoing the Palestinian flag), embroidery, a potted olive tree and panels of rustic wood.
Jazz music blared when I pitched up. The top floor was buzzy and nearly full.
The food was invigorating. The rough mash of hummus and beans had a slap of chilli; the smokey notes of an aubergine dip were lifted by gems of pomegranate, mint and more sumac.
The presentation of Fatet Jaj Chicken was original: tender shreds of chicken formed into a stubby tower, with a garnish of red chilli, flat-leaf parsley and pine nuts and a moat of lemony hummus sauce.
Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, with shakshuka (baked eggs in a spiced tomato sauce), falafel, fattoush, tabbouleh and various grain-based dishes made with freekah and hand-rolled couscous.
Everyone should try the Knafeh for dessert, concocted with an oozy cheese from Nablus under shredded pastry drenched in orange blossom syrup.
It was not all plain sailing, however. One waitress seemed under-briefed on the menu; and I’m not sure the cocktails are worth a trip alone.
But a journey to Tabun Kitchen offers exciting, offbeat flavours for a decent price. Expect to pay around £20-25 before drinks and service for dinner; the Jerusalem Feast costs £17.50 per person; at lunchtimes a wrap and salad is £8.50.A voluntary donation of £1 is added to each table’s bill for The Galilee Foundation, a charity that educates Palestinians living in Israel.
77 Berwick St, W1F
020 7324 7767