This weekly column suggests London restaurants to try over the weekend. There are three rules: The restaurants must not be featured in either the Eater London 38 Essential map, or the monthly updated Heatmap, and the recommendations must be outside Zone 1. In need of even more London restaurant recommendations? Head to the 5 to Try restaurant recommendation archive.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It’s all change on Parkway, one of London’s stranger roads for eating options, with the closure of Russian pie chain Stolle and now Shimogamo, one of London’s best-value Japanese restaurants. What will take its place in uncertain, but those searching for great food in Camden couldn’t do much better than Mamak Don at Parkway’s base which has slowly been establishing itself over the last year as one of the best Malaysian restaurants outside central London. After a few meals, a pattern emerges: the Malay dishes are generally better the Chinese dishes, which require wok technique. A traditional nasi lemak is exemplary, a boneless fried chicken plate with more sides than KFC — plain rice, unskinned peanuts, shards of dried anchovy, a boiled egg, cooling cucumber slices, and a prickly, fermented sambal to hold it all together. It’s one of the better versions available in London. A roti canai is very decent but it’s worth eschewing some of the more familiar dishes in favour of a super-rich butter chicken, creamy and sweet with aromatics of curry leaf, or prawns deep fried with chilli and oat flakes, everything everyone wants from Bubba Gump but never gets. —Jonathan Nunn
9 Parkway, Camden Town, NW1 7PG
The Greenway, once less euphemistically known as ‘Sewerbank’ is a four and a half mile stretch of footpath that follows the old Victorian sewer route between Fish Island and Beckton — niiice. At its westernmost point, hard by the London Stadium, is the View Tube, a cluster of shipping containers with a café now operated by the team behind Munchies Latin American food trucks. On the menu are breakfast burritos, burgers and tacos, but best of all are the mammoth, mustard-slathered Cubano sandwiches (£11.40) stuffed with roast pork, ham, cheese and thick slices of pickle, plantain chips on the side. Sunday’s Cuban-style roast involves avo, cassava, black beans, cheese bread, and sweet corn gravy. —Hilary Armstrong
The Greenway, E15 2PJ
The name translates rather grandly as “pearl palace” — but this modest Southall café is not to be confused with the glitzy Delhi-based international chain that had a branch in London a few years ago; nor with a smart Bangladeshi restaurant of the same name in South Kensington. Recently modernised with exposed brick walls, retro monochrome tiles, and a Punjabi railway platform theme, the venue has been around for over 45 years.
There’s a mithai counter at the front that sells good Punjabi sweets such as petha (candied white pumpkin) and patisa, made from whisper-thin layers of chickpea four dough. Vada pav and paneer dishes are among the most popular here, but go for Punjabi street food that includes chicken and lamb kababs, tikkas, sizzlers, and chole-kulche. This Amritsari speciality combines chickpea curry (here subtly spiced) with vegetable-stuffed flatbreads; and the ‘mix kulcha’ bursting with grated potatoes, cauliflower, and mooli radish is almost as hefty as a small duvet. It comes with Southall’s signature lemon pickle found in every Punjabi venue in the area: similar in looks and taste to Moroccan preserved lemons, but zapped with red chillies and fennel seeds. Also of note is a good range of chaap kababs not easily found in London — chaap being a unique North Indian meat substitute made from yellow soya beans, rehydrated soya nuggets and plain flour that is, very broadly speaking, like a cross between tofu and wheat gluten. —Sejal Sukhadwala
94 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1QF
When this Bangladeshi canteen suddenly closed a couple of years ago, Brick Lane lost an institution — the best of a handful of places serving homestyle Sylheti food. Now, in its sixth week of reopening, Gram Bangla is better than ever. Still a no-frills hangout for the community, a redesigned store sign and the addition of a younger crowd, cracking jokes in Banglish, herald what is hopefully a revitalised era for the restaurant. A selection of curried river fish, rohu, hilsha and pabda jostle with simmered beef, chicken and a myriad of different vegetables bhortas — all slick and fragrant with mustard oil. Tiny silver keski mas are aromatic and spicy, lifted with the zest of citrus, while chingri mas — small shell-on prawns — pop pleasingly in the mouth, nestled against creamy spinach. Crispy threads of naga chill and garlic adorn a yellow tadka dal which, cloaked over shutki satni, a pungent claret paste of chilli and fermented fish, is a cacophohny of nostalgic flavour. —Shekha Vyas
68 Brick Lane, E1 6RL
A devotion to tradition and authenticity in Greek cuisine and culture, rooted to a deep pride in preserving its millennia-old civilisation, can lead to a strong sense of déjà vu when eating in Greek restaurants. Mazi, a small and extremely popular restaurant tucked away behind Notting Hill Gate Station strikes the perfect balance between traditional and modern by adding small twists to Greek classics. The concept is immediately obvious from the décor, the room all in shades of white and royal blue is modern but unmistakably Hellenic. The menu starts with a selection of jars: of pearly pink fish roe mousse and spicy cheesy tiropita topped with flaky shards of filo. Perfect platters of crisp calamari garnished with micro herbs and light tempura feta with sticky citrus marmalade. Larger plates follow with buttery, rich black truffle chicken with smoky aubergine hunkar begendi and orzo with rich, soft braised veal and grated mizithra cheese. Even the staunchest traditionalists will leave charmed. —Leila Latif
12-14 Hillgate Street W8 7SR