I love discovering new places to eat and Etles is a small family run restaurant in Walthamstow that can be described as an absolute gem. The restaurant serves up food from the Uyghur region in China. The food is a nice fusion of Turkish and Chinese cuisines. From the outside, the place looks like a cheap, run of the mill restaurant. Inside, it’s no frills, with simple decor and random artwork scattered over the walls. It really did remind me of travelling in a foreign country and finding a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
The menu features pictures of each dish, which is helpful as almost every dish was a totally new discovery, I didn’t recognise any names and you won’t find your sweet and sour chicken here, no. What you do find is a little overwhelming and confusing set of choices ahead of you, in a good way.
Here is what we ordered.
Dishes came with either a very basic pasta or rice and come with a free cold spring roll type thing…
To start I went for something that looked familiar, lamb shish!
Uyghur sis kebab, £2 each
When they first landed on the table I was a bit worried as they looked dry, but these were great. The spices they were marinated in really worked and it had familiar flavours but also some spices that I couldn’t put my finger on. They were also very soft and tender, but also a little fatty, which would indicate the use of a cheaper cut of lamb, but then again, the fat is where all the flavour is!
The Da Pan Ji – £25.00
This is the signature dish, a real showstopper when it lands on the table. If you like spicy food you will like this. A massive plate of chicken cooked with chillies, bell peppers, potatoes, garlic, ginger, soya sauce and other fresh herbs, served with homemade pasta. They really didn’t hold back on the use of chillies here, it was a very hot and spicy dish albeit a little too spicy for me.
Although this as a dish didn’t have many levels of flavour, for me it was a dish worth trying. The chicken was cooked with the skin still on, which is different, meaning it was quite fatty and used the cheaper cuts.
Good for groups, I saw some regulars come in and just order this between 4 people.
Ma Po Tofu £10.00
Consists of tofu set in a spicy sauce. I was not a fan of this dish, the flavour and spices didn’t really work for me.
Yu Xiang Rou Si £9.00
Marinated shredded beef with mix shredded vegetables and mixed herbs.This was one of the better dishes, good flavours and it felt like a more typical item of a Chinese restaurant.
We got a complimentary homemade dessert at the end of the meal, a simple honey based cake that was a nice end to the meal.
Some dishes we liked and some we didn’t. I came here with a group of foodies that signed up to my new secret foodie club. I had a great night with them, we all thought that it was worth coming back again and try some other items.
The bill was only £55, for 5 people, which includes drinks, bare in mind, drinks are only £1!
The service is very friendly, at the end of my meal the owner came to talk to me and was really excited and happy and even gave me a hug, a friend of hers called her and said I was there (as i posted on instagram while there).
I am definitely going to come back here again it was really nice to try something totally different. Although it was not amazing food, it was enjoyable. What’s better is that everything is halal and there is no alcohol served here.