A Must-Visit Turkish Restaurant in London-Babaji

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Turkish cuisine is regarded as one of the best ones in the world, and trust me, I’m not telling this because I’m Turkish – it genuinely is in so many ways!

The traces of the traditional Ottoman cuisine and the flavours of different cuisines such as Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ones, renders Turkish cuisine very extensive and rich. There are literally so many delicious dishes that can appeal to anyone’s taste. Besides the famous kebabs, pastries and heavenly desserts, there are also light and healthy but absolutely delicious vegetable dishes with olive oil (zeytinyağlılar) and amazing appetizers (mezeler) in this unique cuisine.

So when I’m in London, I sometimes literally crave Turkish food and I’m really happy that there are some good Turkish restaurants here. I haven’t been to all of them but among the ones that I’ve visited, Babaji is probably the best in terms of the food, the service, the design, the location – in summary everything :)

Babaji is located in Soho, close to Chinatown and it’s owned by Alan Yau, the name behind some of London’s best restaurants such as Hakkasan and Yauatcha.

The story behind the name “Babaji” is that when Alan Yau comes to Istanbul, he hears someone calling their father “babacım”, ( daddy ) and he really likes the way it sounds, so he interprets the word as “Babaji”. This choice of name is meaningful and appropriate also because it’s easily remembered and rhythmical, and the letter “a” is dominant, just like in Yau’s other restaurants’ names – Hakkasan, Wagamama, Busaba and Yautacha.

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The restaurant is named as pide salonu, which can be translated to English as pizzeria, however don’t be fooled by the name – besides an amazing selection of pide’s (Turkish style pizza – boat-shaped flat bread with a variety of toppings), the menu is filled with some of the signature Turkish appetizers, meat and vegetable dishes, and desserts!

From the appetizers, I definitely recommend cacık (yogurt with garlic & cucumber) , kısır (bulgur wheat salad) , oven baked halloumi , karides güveç ( shrimps with tomato & kaşar cheese, cooked in traditional Turkish clay pot) and börek (filo pastry filled with cheese & spinach)

Kısır & Cacık
Kısır & Cacık

As for beverage I strongly suggest ayran (traditional Turkish salted yogurt drink) and of course Turkish coffee after your meal, which is served in a copper coffee pot and is probably my favourite beverage in the world!

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Since I prefer traditional pide’s, I’ve tried their pide develi (pide topped with diced beef, tomato, Turkish green pepper & parsley) and kıymalı pide (pide with minced lamb, tomato & pepper) and both of them were very good, but you can surely choose other kinds of pide’s from the menu based on your taste, as there are so many options with great combinations of ingredients.

Kıymalı Pide
Kiymali Pide

When it comes to other main courses from the stove & grill, the ones that you shouldn’t miss are mantı (traditional Turkish dumplings with beef, yogurt, Turkish chili flake & butter) , kuru fasulye (white bean stew with tomato & red chilli) , külbastı (grilled lamb with tomato sauce and yogurt) and dolma (vine leaf stuffed with minced beef & rice)

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Manti

From the desserts, you should certainly try künefe (sweet cheese pastry soaked in syrup ) and baklava (with pistachio & vanilla ice cream)! Back in Turkey I prefer baklava without pistachio, but it’s a matter of choice and many people enjoy it this way as well.

Künefe
Künefe

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Finally, I’ve recently found out that they also serve weekend brunch between 11:00 – 16:30, and if you’ve read my previous post you know this news made me more than happy!

I checked out the menu and they almost have everything that needs to be there in a traditional Turkish breakfast/brunch. For those who are curious what are the main dishes in a Turkish breakfast, the ones from the menu are söğüş (chopped cucumbers & vine tomatoes) , Gemlik black olives, feta cheese, pan-fried halloumi, jam, simit, menemen (Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomato & peppers) or sucuklu yumurta (Turkish sausage “sucuk” and fried eggs)

The design of Babaji is truly impressive and unique with special details, made by a world-wide known Turkish design studio named Autoban. The beautiful handcrafted ceramic tiles that cover the walls and ceilings, the Iznik tile designs on some of the tables, and the inlaid brass details used in the wood tabletops reflect the traditional Turkish culture in a wonderful way.

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The restaurant is on three levels, on the ground floor you can see how the pide’s are made from where you’re sitting, as in the middle there’s an open space with a large stone oven where the chefs are baking the pides. On the first floor, there’s a more spacious dining area, and on the basement there’s a smaller one and the kitchen.

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The service of the restaurant reveals the well-known Turkish hospitality once again, with almost all-Turkish staff welcoming you  in a warm and friendly way, and providing a quick and attentive service throughout the meal.

The philosophy of Babaji is simple – presenting the traditional Turkish culture with a modern interpretation, and reflecting its warmth and sincerity without exaggeration, in a natural way – for example by playing the common Turkish songs in the background and using the traditional, thin glass cups that are used to serve tea in Turkey.

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In my opinion Babaji represents the Turkish culture in a decent and impressive way, with all the hidden details and the apparent effort and thought that has been given to all parts of the restaurant.

Note: The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so depending on the time of day you visit there’s a chance that you’ll have to wait for a while, but you can order from the restaurant through online delivery services as well!

So, to summarize, if you’re interested in Turkish cuisine and want to try the delicious Turkish dishes for reasonable prices in a unique atmosphere, then you should definitely pay a visit to Babaji!

Address: 53 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6LB

www.babaji.com.tr

 

 

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Guest Post- Breakfast at Honey & Co.

This is the first guest post that I’m featuring on my blog so it’s pretty exciting for me! It’s written by Jaime Tung, the talented author and creator of angloyankophile.com – an award-winning blog full of her amazing adventures and discoveries as an American in London – and in many other parts of the world! Thank you so much Jaime for your contribution, it’s awesome to have you on dilaland.com! 

Breakfast at Honey & Co., Warren Street

As we inch closer and closer to Christmas, I’m having a hard time keeping up with my work schedule, let alone my social calendar (just ask Dila, since it’s taken me forever to get this post to her!). Now, there aren’t a lot of people I’d wake up at 6:00 a.m. for, but my friend Alice is an exception. Since we both work in the same part of London, one of our favorite traditions is to grab breakfast before work. It’s great, because unlike lunch, we don’t feel as rushed, and it’s such a nice way to start the day. When Alice and I worked in the same office, we used to have a favorite breakfast hangout (until it closed a few months ago), where we ordered the same thing every time, and even sat at the same table! I know, we’re nerds like that.
This time, we met at Honey & Co. on Warren Street, which specialises in delicious Middle Eastern cuisine. Slight issue? I totally forgot about our plans! We were supposed to meet at 8:00 a.m. and at 7:21, I was still tucked up in bed, chuckling at cat videos on YouTube. So cool, right? Then I got a text from her that said, “My train is far too busy at this time in the morning! See you soon!” To say that I leapt out of bed would be an understatement. I grabbed the nearest clothes, put my contacts in with one hand, and flew out the door. I was only 5 minutes late, which was an achievement! “I literally woke up like this,” I said to Alice breathlessly as I rushed into the restaurant.
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 But! The breakfast menu at Honey & Co. was the best reward for rushing out the door. In fact, any menu that features a “dinosaur egg” is a winner in my books! It’s smallish, so if you’re thinking of going for dinner, I’d book ahead of time. They serve an extended breakfast menu on the weekends, but on the weekdays, you still get a hearty serving of warm dishes like “Green shakshuka” (Legbar eggs baked on herby spinach with goat’s yogurt and bread) and “Phylas” (filo pastry filled with pumpkin, spices, feta yogurt and a hardboiled egg). I ended up ordering the “Ijje” – a herb, feta, and buttered leek frittata plus a fresh mint tea, which was such a nice change from the limp bacon sandwiches and dry pancakes you might find at every other breakfast establishment.
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© 2015 angloyankophile.com
 We stayed for an hour or so, catching up on life (we both bought houses around the same time this year!) and work – and never felt rushed. The fun, brightly-colored decor made me feel as though we were on holiday in Tel-Aviv instead of starting the workday in Central London. I could have easily stayed longer for a coffee, but the clock soon struck 9:00 and, like Cinderella, it was time for us to leave the proverbial breakfast ball.
I had my eye on Honey & Co.’s cookbooks, which I thought would make a great Christmas gift for my brother-in-law, who loves to cook.
I’m looking forward to going back for dinner soon! I’ve heard that their desserts are the stuff of legends.
Do you ever go out for a nice, sit-down breakfast before work? I’d love to know!
Huge thanks to Dila for hosting me on her blog!
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 I hope you enjoyed Jaime’s lovely post as much as I did! Be sure to check out her inspiring blog full of amazing photos, reviews, recommendations, discoveries and so much more :)

Creative & Minimalist Paper Art by British Photographer Rich McCor

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British photographer Rich McCor, aka Paperboyo, reshapes most well-known landmarks all around the world – just by using paper cutouts & a camera !

When I discovered his work through his Instagram account, I was really inspired by how McCor remodelled the most iconic places in a minimalist and innovative way. He reflects his imagination through paper cutouts that are just “at the right place at the right time” – making it possible to capture amazing photographs. He is able to provide a completely new perspective with a “less is more” philosophy.

As I mentioned he takes photographs combined with paper art all around the world in different cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lisbon and so on, however his work is based in London.

It was really hard to choose from the incredible photographs but here are some of my favorites among the ones in London:

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This photo taken of the balloon installation at Covent Garden reminds me the “Up” animation which is my all time favorite :)
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I like the simple creativity in this one!
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Big Ben and London Eye – two of my favorite London landmarks

And finally these two Christmassy works are part of the recent “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe” installation in Covent Garden.

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P.S: McCor also started a creative project recently at Kickstarter that you can check here. After getting a lot of positive feedback and attention from people all around the world and most important newspapers and magazines such as BBC, National Geographic and Timeout, he decided to start this project in order to give people a chance to create their own transforming photographs, by using his custom-made creative paper cutout kits. Be sure to check out the project and support it!

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post :)

 

Warner Bros. Studio Tour-Hogwarts in the Snow

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It’s impossible to not feel Christmassy in London at this time of the year :) If you’ve already started to get into the Christmas spirit as well, or want to, then you should definitely not miss Warner Bros. Studio Tour’s special Christmas makeover “Hogwarts in the Snow”.

I’ve had the chance to visit the tour twice, and even without the makeover it was truly an amazing experience. Being able to closely observe all of the objects, costumes, places and other props used in the films was so exciting, and I actually felt like I was in a completely different world. But I must say that with all of the Christmas decorations and the festive spirit, everything was even more magical. So I strongly recommend visiting “Hogwarts in the Snow”, as Harry Potter and Christmas are definitely a perfect match :)

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Entrance

 

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The Great Hall

 

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Gryffindor Common Room

 

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Dumbledore’s Office

 

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Hogwarts Express

 

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“Hogwarts in the Snow” event is running until 31st January, so there’s time to visit but I think it would be best to book tickets as soon as possible! For more information, visit www.wbstudiotour.co.uk

 

Kitty Ferreira- An Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Label

Kitty Ferreira Ethical Fashion Label

Recently I’ve had the chance to meet Valerie Goode, the name behind the successful ethical & sustainable fashion label Kitty Ferreira, based in London.

The brand has launched at London Fashion Week two years ago, and it has won multiple awards from Royal College of Arts in 2013 for design innovation, and also the “Extending the Lifecycle of Clothing Design Award” from WRAP.org, which is an important government organisation.

The philosophy of the brand is to bridge the gap between the city and natural world, by using herbal dyes and natural sources such as pomegranate and onion skins in their collections. Their aim is to make sustainability and ethics more common and widely-accepted in the fashion world.

Kitty Ferreira Brand

When I asked Valerie what her inspirations are for her designs, she told me that she looks at her grandmother, the person that she named the brand after. She explained how the way that her grandmother relied on the land to feed, clothe and heal herself inspires her.

In my opinion, what she’s trying to do is really impressive – recalling the pure and natural way of living of the past and using it to create something valuable and make a change in the world.

If you’re interested in ethical fashion, or want to find out more about this unique brand, make sure to check out their social media pages :

Website: kittyferreira.co.uk

Facebook: Kitty Ferreira UK

Twitter: Kitty Ferreira UK

Instagram: Kitty Ferreira Uk

Kitty Ferreira London

Hope you enjoyed it, thanks for reading! :)

 

Restaurant Recommendation – Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi Open Delicatessen Counter

There are probably only a few things that I love more than discovering different restaurants with delicious food.

Ottolenghi is one of those restaurants, it’s definitely one of my favorites in London for many reasons. It’s a perfect place for the ones looking for healthy but at the same time incredibly tasty and good value food, mainly from Mediterranean & Middle Eastern cuisines.

The restaurant has four branches – in Spitalfields, Notting Hill, Islington and Belgravia. I’ve been to the ones in Islington and Spitalfields, I think they’re both great in terms of service, ambience and decoration. I went there always for lunch, as in my opinion the atmosphere is more suitable for lunch, but you could surely go for dinner as well if you wish.

Their open delicatessen counter is mouth watering, with heavenly desserts on one side, and healthy but delicious salads and side dishes on the other.

For lunch, you can choose different salads from their great selection, either with or without a main course. They also have delicious pastries that could be considered light :)

I have to mention their desserts one more time as the ones that I tried were absolutely amazing. You should definitely try some of them if you haven’t yet – you won’t regret it!

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Perfect lunch for two
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English beef with mustard, with aubergine, sweet potato and lentils

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P.S: There’s usually a long queue at the Islington branch of the restaurant, so going there early would be the best.

Check out their website for more information on the food, prices and more: www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Have you been to Ottolenghi before? Comment to let me know!

 

Magical Views of London at Night

When the lights go down, London becomes a dreamy place. Without all the rush and crowds that fill the streets, it feels like you’re seeing the “real” London – a city full of lights and beautiful beyond words.

“By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.” Samuel Johnson

Words aren’t enough to describe how stunning I think London is at nighttime, so I hope the photos I took will do that for me :)


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Weekends are for Breakfast Lovers

As all Turkish people, or most people that have visited Turkey know, breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day in Turkish culture – especially at weekends :)

A classic Turkish breakfast for 2

So, as a Turkish breakfast lover in London, I started looking for the best places to have breakfast since I came here last year. Here are some of the places that I tried and think are great!

1) Granger & Co.

I’m a very huge fan of scrambled eggs and this place definitely knows how to make the most delicious ones. Its an Australian restaurant that has three branches in Clerkenwell, Kings Cross and Notting Hill. I went to the Notting Hill one which is a small, warm & cozy restaurant, and the staff try their best to help you even if its crowded. I strongly recommend going there, as besides their velvety and succulent scrambled eggs, they have a very rich breakfast menu with many different options of pastries. Their ricotta hotcakes with banana & honeycomb butter are also amazing.

P.S: Make sure to go there early to avoid waiting for a table, but even if you have to wait for a while its definitely worth it!

grangerandco.com

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2) L’Eto Caffe

This cafe/restaurant is famous for its heavenly desserts, however the breakfast is also one of the bests out there. It has many branches but we went to the one in Soho with my friend’s recommendation. My friends had eggs royales and I had scrambled eggs, (said I was a huge fan!) all served with avocado and were really really good. They also have great pancakes and crepes, and there are literally so many options of different coffee and especially teas , it makes it hard to make a decision. So you should definitely not miss this place since there’s something for everyone.

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3) Holborn Dining Room

This restaurant is a more chic option with its stylish and impressive interior design. For breakfast I shared an omelette, of course scrambled eggs:), and pancakes with blueberry compote with my friend. I didn’t like the scrambled eggs that much but the pancakes and especially the omelette were delicious. They also have a great selection of pastries and lighter food such as granola and porridge. The service was great and the staff were very friendly, so I surely recommend checking it out.

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4)Breakfast Club

It isn’t possible not to mention Breakfast Club in this list as it was the first place that I went for breakfast in London, and it’s one of the most popular breakfast spots :) It’s such a unique place with its decoration and details, and even though (surprisingly) I didn’t try their eggs, my friends really liked the eggs royales they had. I love their famous pancakes with berries – I think they’re one of the tastiest pancakes I’ve ever had. Probably most of you have already been there but if you haven’t, go and reward yourself with those amazing pancakes!  Also bear in mind that there’s always a long queue in front of it so you should go early.

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So, what are your favorite spots for a great weekend breakfast?

Thank you for reading :)

Chasing the Sun in London

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Sunny weather has always been a great source of inspiration to me, and ever since I came to London, I’ve always thought that it’s the most beautiful on sunny days even though they’re not many – or maybe this is what makes them special :)

I love taking photos when I catch a glimpse of the sun in London, and on this gloomy and rainy day I wanted to share some of them. Hope they’ll inspire you as well!

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