Etles (Uyghur) – Walthamstow, London
Located on the busy stretch of Hoe Street close to Walthamstow Central station, this unassuming venue is fully Halal, with all its fish and HMC-sourced meat procured locally.
According to the owners, Chef Abdul Hekim and his wife Mukaddes who looks after front of house, Etles is the first truly genuine Uyghur restaurant to open in London.
The 35-cover restaurant is a cosy little one, with simple decor that’s dominated by a large, intricately embroidered wall tapestry depicting a congregation of musicians taking part in a form of Uyghur music known as muqam that arose in the sixth century.
In addition to musical instruments used as wall ornaments, there’s a striking painting of an open air ceiling above that’s also depicting the various cycles of the moon in the night sky.
The term ‘etles’ happens to be the name of the silk material used for making the traditional women’s dress in the region.
Dressed in an ultra-light vinaigrette, this Paprika Salad, though not the most attractive, was refreshingly light, with the gentle peppery heat of the paprika coming through well enough.
These little cubes of perfectly cooked lamb were soft, tender and juicy, with just that touch of give to them, thanks to the fierce heat of the barbecue these were evidently cooked on.
Not only was there a touch of smokiness to them, but the fact that these were served on the actual skewers used provided that additional sense of theatre.
We’d recommend these all the way!
Expertly pinched and folded into attractive little parcels, the freshly made pastry was nice and thin, and sprinkled with a shiny, bronze-coloured spice.
But, it was the gorgeously meaty-cum-chewy minced lamb, which was simply seasoned with pepper, which we really appreciated.
Deep flavourful, these were superior to their Tugur counterparts below.
If there’s a single reason for visiting Etles, it has to be to experience their handmade noodles, freshly prepared with all the labour and love of a chef who’s absolutely devoted to plying his trade as sincerely as he knows how, and who’s dedicated to producing the best he can for his customers. Kudos to you Chef Abdul Hekim!
We would have enjoyed these noodles presented utterly plain and naked.
Instead, we were served a beef Lagman which was beautifully balanced, finely spiced, expertly seasoned, and so light and summery.
Soft noodles done just right and topped with tender thin chunks of chewy beef, red and green peppers, coarsely cut portions of chewy-soft wood ear mushrooms whose dark tone contrasted well against the large segments of red and green peppers, all interspersed with bits of garlic and onions here, there and thither. Superb!
With a melt-in-your-mouth texture, this Hula Yangti dish betrays its Indian subcontinent influence where paya is considered somewhat of a delicacy across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What made this one such a good one was its vibrantly orange tomato-based curry sauce – full of peppery flavour, good heat, a touch of spice and garlic.
It was suggested, however, that a side of rice would have gone well with this.
Although the pasta here was again homemade, these were denser than the ones above, and thus far chewier.
Nonetheless, the minced calf meat interior was pretty good. But, it was the vinegar accompaniment that split the crowd.
While one Lion enjoyed the interplay between the tangy and the spiciness of the Sichuan pepper chilli paste pairing, another found it to be far too strong for the lightly seasoned calf.
This huge plate of bits and pieces was arguably the weakest had on the evening. Designed to be shared between 2-3 people, the best thing about this was perhaps the tender pieces of chicken, with the worst being the unpleasantly textured pieces of chopped up Sichuan pepper sprinkled all over, which actually had a strange numbing affect that left the lips tingling.
Otherwise, this Da Pan Ji had large pieces of red pepper, overly soft potatoes atop of wide pappardelle-style noodles.
This was a deliciously satisfying rice and meat dish. Simple in its make up, it consisted of pieces of unmarinated skin-on lamb that appeared to have been fried on one side.
The rice was thick grained and gently spiced, with plenty of grated carrots, raisins, sultanas and onions. It was all subtle, but a pleasant eat.
In any case, this was a really nicely executed slice of cake made up of seven layers of light and crumbly goodness, with the subtle hint of honey coming through nicely.
The sweetness was assured by the condensed milk, which was cleverly used to bind each layer together.
In the absence of the chocolate, this subtly sweet slice went really well with English tea.
Small glass jugs of freshly made and extremely refreshing ayran that will certainly be required as the perfect antidote to some of the more spicier dishes cited above.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- TAKE AWAY
- CHINESE STUDENT DISCOUNT
With that said, and given the scarcity of genuine Uyghur restaurants in London and beyond, Etles is most definitely worth a visit (don't forget our exclusive 10% discount), if only for their freshly prepared handmade noodles and dumplings. They serve up good, tasty, wholesome food with an honesty we really admired.
What's more, they're going to be introducing a lunch menu, if they haven't already, available from 11am-3pm, Tue-Thur, for just £5.99.
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