Rupert Hohwieler 29/01/23
Mangal 2 | A reborn Turkish classic in East London
Discussions about London’s best Turkish restaurants are often fired up…
One name that’s always in the conversation: Mangal 2.
Founded in 1994 by Ali Dirik – who had made the move from Istanbul to London ten years earlier – Mangal 2 (also referenced by some as ‘Mangal II’) is one of London’s longest-standing temples to ocakbasi cooking (food prepared via a Turkish charcoal barbecue). Almost 30 years later it’s still going strong in Dalston, and remains the focal point for consistently good Turkish food in the capital. It’s counted Britain’s most famous artistic double act, Gilbert and George, among its loyal fans (the two were said to eat here at exactly 8pm almost every night for 20 years) and while the institution tag may get thrown around pretty loosely these days, with Mangal 2 it’s very much warranted.
However the Mangal 2 that you see today is a different animal to the one that had garnered such feverish support back in the ‘90s. In 2016 Dirik handed over the keys to his sons, Ferhat and Sertaç, who were tasked with upholding the family legacy (and, of course, running the restaurant). When the pandemic reared its ugly head, the brothers decided it was time to give Mangal 2 a makeover, so it could catch up to the demands of 21st century dining – painting the interior in a cleaner blue and white, and modernising the menu.
Grilled meats are still at the forefront – carefully sourced from around the UK – and it’s still a casual restaurant, but they wanted to shift the perception some people tend to have here in regards to their native cuisine, beyond döner kebabs and curing hangovers to a more restaurant-driven, trendy-dining approach. And so, out went the free bread and in came the grilled sourdough pide, out went the old byo policy and in came a considered natural wine list.
They’ve put a lot of effort into making sure the dishes are beautifully presented, too. Sertaç, who handles the food side (before this, he had previously cheffed in Copenhagen at Noma’s sister restaurant 108), takes pride in making sure at least one part of every dish has been blessed by the ocakbasi, which you can admire in action thanks to an open-kitchen. Some of the fruits of its labour include a plate of perfectly-pink 40-day-aged beef rib from a retired dairy cow sided by their house sujuk (a dry fermented sausage) and sumac onions; the mushroom manti dumplings; the mutton tantuni (chopped and grilled mutton loin on their pillowy sourdough); the cull yaw kofte (smoky meat from an ewe) with grilled apple; and a tahini tart topped with an emphatic swiggle of cherry stone cream. In all honesty, you’re gonna want to order as much of the menu as possible, so bring help.
Clearly the new tweaks have been for the best, as the place still hums (and smells) like nothing has changed.
It’s still the pide of Dalston…
NOTE: Mangal 2 is open from Mon-Sat. You can find out more and book on their website, here.
Mangal 2 | 4 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XN
Curious to hear about what else is in the area? Try the best restaurants in Dalston
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4 Stoke Newington Rd, Dalston, N16 7XN
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020 7254 7888
8.2 | Great
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