Is your local Turkish restaurant on this 'best in Britain' semi-final list?

Hot stuff... in the kitchens preparing eastern cuisine for diners in east London.

Hot stuff... in the kitchens preparing eastern cuisine for diners in east London. - Credit: Mike Brooke/stockshot

A dish of 35 restaurants and takeaways in east and north London have made it to the semi-finals of an inaugural UK Turkish food awards after a tough year of the pandemic for the catering trade.  

The 17 east London semi-finalists are in Stepney, Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs, Shoreditch, Stratford, East Ham, Ilford, Upminster, Gidea Park and Collier Row. 

Their 18 semi-final rivals in north London are in Dalston, Hackney, Stoke Newington, Angel, Islington, Archway, Hornsey, Stroud Green, Hampstead and Kilburn. 

Preparing street food at a Shoreditch foodie fest

Preparing street food at a Shoreditch foodie fest - Credit: Mike Brooke/stockshot

They’ve reached the penultimate stage in the UK Turkish Restaurant and Takeaway Awards (TURTA), organised by The Kebab Alliance set up last November to help restaurants and takeaway outlets get through the pandemic. 

“There’s no question that 2020 was a difficult year for them,” Kebab Alliance spokesman Sezgin Aydin said. “They faced challenges with the past year testing every business in the hospitality industry, so getting to the semi-finals is an achievement.” 

Food for thought... how much to buy when you're hungry 

Food for thought... how much to buy when you're hungry - Credit: Mike Brooke/stockshot

Categories include best restaurant, takeaway, value, satisfaction, delivery and chef of the year.  

East London restaurants in the running include Rüyam in Commercial Road, Stepney; Ottoman in Canon Street Road, Whitechapel; Hazev in South Quay Square, Canary Wharf; Jazzgir in Harbour Exchange Square, Isle of Dogs; Best Mangal Bar and Restaurant in Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch; Haz in Bishopsgate, Spitalfields; Nazar in Wells Street, South Hackney; Super Meze in Stratford Broadway; and Best Turkish in Barking Road, East Ham. 

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Suburban hotspots are Faroz in Clements Road and Evva Grill in Goodmayes Road, both Ilford; Lefke in Corbets Tey Road, Upminster; Kervansaray in Brentwood Road, Gidea Park; Aksular in High Road, Chadwell Heath; Veysos in Clockhouse Lane, Collier Row; and Shish Meze in Berther Road, Hornchurch. 

There are challenges from north London with four restaurants in one street alone in Dalston - Ali Baba, Stone Cave, Evin and Somine all along Kingsland High Street, joined by Umut 2000 round the corner in Crossway and Mangal 1 in Arcola Street, plus Cirrikrant in Amhurst Road, Hackney.

Three more are in Stoke Newington Road by Hackney Downs - Istanbul, Devran and Mangal 2. 

North London also has another eight semi-finalists, Emy’s Kitchen in Crouch Hill, Stroud Green; Archway Kebab in Junction Road, Archway; Dona Daddy in High Road, Hornsey; Gallipoli in Upper Street, Islington; Mem and Laz in Theberton Street, Angel; Laz in Parkway, Camden Town; Alps Kitchen in Haverstock Hill, Hampstead; and Woody Grill in Kilburn High Road.   

Serving salads that go well with kebabs

Serving salads that go well with kebabs - Credit: Mike Brooke/stockshot

Around one-and-a-half million kebabs are sold in Britain every day from 200 doner kebab manufacturers, with an annual turnover of £750m, all served up through 20,000 outlets which employ 200,000 people in an industry that nets £2.8 billion a year for the economy. 

The Kebab Alliance was set up last November at the height of the coronavirus crisis by Unilever and Just Eat, which are major suppliers to the kebab trade, and the Centre for Turkey Studies.

It aims to improve standards to protect consumer rights and to change the stereotypical perception of kebabs.  

Full list of semi-finalists in TURTA 2021 are here.

Read more: Newham businesses long-listed for national kebab awards