Some of the rioters who smashed up shops in Hackney last summer were so fond of Ali Baba’s kebabs that owner Cerkan was pre-warned by masked people on bikes before things kicked off on the 10th of August. Rumour has it they demanded free kebabs before heading on (but whether they went for lamb kofti or chicken shish in unknown). The threat was countered by anti riot-page on Facebook, and instead of closing up, the kebab shop workers and store owners of Dalston took to the streets with döner knives and broomsticks to defend the community, and in a bizarre turn became Daily Telegraph heroes. Oh well, that’s how it goes in Dalston.
These kebabs are in my opinion the best post-club grub in Dalston, and they are also incredibly edible during the day. The döner and chicken shish kebabs sold in here are similar to other kebab shops (yet of high standard) but the feat of Ali Baba’s if their lamb kofti. The large lamb kofti at £5 is succulent and herby, and strongly recommended with mixed garlic and home made chili sauce. For its location one would have expected it to be slightly cheaper, however, and they sometimes get orders mixed up. 6.5 meatballs out of 10.
144 Kingsland High Street, E8 2NS
Troy is a quirky Turkish café along the Vietnamese belt on the bottom Kingsland road, notable for its walls covered in photos of muscular and oily wrestlers, as well as an odd but homely collection of art and miniature sculptures. Its atmosphere is friendly and familiar, with the owners greeting regulars with an handshake and (delicious) coffee on the house.
It has a generous salad buffe of hot and warm side-dishes, which you can pick and mix next to your main as much as you want. Highlights on the day we were there included savoury taramasalata (a pink mediterranean creamy sauce made with fish roe), Turkish pickles and boiled potatoes with mashed eggs and coriander. The Dürüm (like a wrap with skewered bits of minced lamb and salad) which I had was surprisingly filling and came down well with the home-made tsatsiki. Mr Meatball had a grilled panini with mozzarella, chicken escalope and grilled vegetables which was very good value. My wrap was perhaps on the pricier side for a student eater at £5,40, but it was herby and savoury enough to justify itself. When you are in the neighbourhood, this is a friendly haven with good street views to stare at the Hoxton crowd: granting it 7,5 meatballs out of 10 (secretly 8.5 for the lovely owners).
Troy, 124 Kingsland road, E2 8DP London