For most people, when they think of kebabs they think of greasy trays of questionable doner meat, smothered in chilli sauce and garlic mayo, greedily devoured after a few too many beers and then instantly regretted the next morning. They’re not usually something we’d associate with a nice, civilised meal out.
However, this all looks set to change, as more and more of Manchester’s culinary masterminds turn their attention towards this often neglected dish. The latest to join the revolution are Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford, aka The Unabombers, with their Chorlton hotspot Electrik.
Back in summer, the guys decided they fancied something new, bringing in Volta’s Phil Cook for a temporary kitchen takeover. The plan was that for a few glorious months, the new kitchen, known as Yadda Yadda, would be serving up delicious Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Persian inspired street food dishes to Chorlton’s hungriest residents, before disappearing into the night.
Luckily, things didn’t quite turn out that way. Yadda Yadda ended up being so popular that the temporary takeover has now become a permanent residency – which is fantastic news for everyone.
The new menu is split out into four sections: small plates, kebabs, sides and desserts. (Side note: when did we stop calling starters starters and start calling them small plates instead? Everywhere seems to be doing it now. Did I miss the memo?) Anyway, on our trip we went for the lamb shawarma and Korean steak kebabs, with some salt and pepper fries and ‘smacked cucumber’ on the side.
One of the first things you’ll notice when your dishes are brought over is the sheer size of them – huge flatbreads, piled high with meats, salad, pickles, sauces and more. But don’t worry, it’s not a case of quantity over quality here. Take the flatbreads, for example. These are handmade each day in the kitchen, and it really shows – these aren’t the stodgy, bland wraps you’ll usually find in your local takeaway.
The lamb shawarma is a classic when it comes to kebabs, and Yadda Yadda definitely does it justice. The soft, tender lamb is slow-cooked to that glorious point where it falls apart if you even dare try to pick up a piece. Topped with pickled cabbage, green harissa, yoghurt, crispy onions and a pickled chilli, this is a proper, no-nonsense kebab. Wrap it up and get stuck in.
The Korean steak, on the other hand, takes the traditional kebab in an exciting new direction. It starts with another of those soft, fresh flatbreads, this time topped with perfectly pink steak, punchy kimchi, gochujang, miso mayo, more of those crispy onions and another pickled chilli.
Next, onto the sides. I’m a sucker for salt and pepper anything, so it was a fairly safe bet that the fries would go down a treat. And guess what – they did. Szechuan pepper, chilli, peppers and onions – you know the drill.
Now, one of the main reasons we ordered the ‘smacked cucumber’ was out of curiosity. How exactly do you smack a cucumber? And what does this mean? Well, it turns out that it makes it deliciously refreshing. The little bite-sized chunks of cucumber, marinated in soy, sesame and coriander, were a fantastic accompaniment to the perfectly spiced kebabs and fries.
While the dishes will certainly fill you up, they won’t empty your wallet. The kebabs range from £7-9, the small plates go from £4.50-8.50 and the sides are between £1.50 and £4. And they’re worth every penny.
If this is the direction kebabs are going, I guarantee you’ll want to come along for the ride.