Amongst the dense population of Turkish restaurants on Green Lanes, there is one name that crops up time and time again. It’s a name that has come to resonate louder and stronger than any of the other renowned establishments on this long stretch of road, and has become almost synonymous with “great Turkish food”. That name, is Gokyuzu, and it belongs to a relatively humble restaurant that has gained near-universal critical-acclaim by food-bloggers and enthusiasts alike. With such a mammoth reputation preceding it, Gokyuzu naturally became the next target of our Harringay hunt, and expectations were certainly high.
All the meat here is halal. Alcohol is served.
After being greeted by a friendly waiter, we were escorted to our seats, and before we even had the chance to take off our coats and sit down, a basket of complementary bread and dip was delivered to our table. Either they thought that we looked malnourished, or they were simply very eager for us to try their bread – which was in fact, very good. The bread was soft, of a good quality, and was complemented well by the strong and sharp flavour of the accompanying cucumber and dill yoghurt-dip.
For mains, I selected the “mixed kebab” and requested a side of bulgur instead of rice. Whilst many Turkish establishments overcook their meat until it’s drier than the skin of an eczema-sufferer stranded in the Sahara dessert, Gokyuzu’s grilling-skills seem to be near enough exemplary. The adana shish was thick, moist, tender, and brimming with a mild, spicy flavour that was subtle in nature, whilst the ribs particularly surprised me, as they were equally well cooked and tender. In fact, the layer of fat that resided beneath the meat of the ribs simply melted in the mouth. Though some of the chicken breast pieces were dry – (such is the nature of chicken breast) – others retained their moisture, and all were thick and hefty in size with a moderate amount of flavour. The chicken wings however, were rather on the small size. They were well cooked and possessed a soft and crispy skin, but ultimately, they were fairly uninspiring in terms of flavour. The lamb cubes meanwhile – also well cooked – carried a strong, smoky essence from the charcoal grill. Either that, or the lamb was allowed to have one last cigarette before he met the butcher. (Underage-smoking is becoming a real issue in modern society).
Substituting rice with bulgur is almost always a good decision at a Turkish restaurant, and there were certainly no regrets on this occasion. The bulgur was very soft and very moist, carrying a strong essence of tomato that contrasted well with the strong meaty flavours on the rest of the plate. Steak meanwhile, had opted for a small portion of lamb doner. The lamb pieces were rather fatty, but because they had been cooked well, the fat simply melted into the meat, enhancing its already soft texture. All in all, an impressive selection of meat, all of which retained most of their flavour, moisture, and inherent quality – a rare occurrence with Turkish meats.
Of course, one does not simply visit a Turkish restaurant without having a helping of Turkish tea or coffee. (And since it was a Thursday night and I had to be up at the crack of dawn the next day, I had to control my urges and opt for tea). Despite the fact that we explicitly ordered the tea, the staff did not charge us for it, which was a nice gesture. Gokyuzu’s tea deserves a special mention, as it possessed a delicate character with a subtle maple-like essence. (Unlike many complementary Turkish teas, which lack any significant presence). The tea was brewed very strongly, and as a result, the smooth flavours were extracted particularly well. Steak dropped a cube of sugar in hers, whilst maintaining complete eye contact with me in the process. Frankly, it was a vulgar display of defiance, which lacked any sense of respect for the dental values I stood for.
Steak’s lamb donner cost £8, whilst my “mixed kebab” cost £16, totalling up to a bill of £24. Generally, starters range from £3 for single items, to £12 for mezze platters. Mains range from £8-£14, whilst large sharing platters of grilled meat (at least I hope you’d share), range from £30 to £50. Prices seem to be incredibly reasonable in relation to the quality, quantity, and location. Portions are generous and the food generally seems to be satisfying and well-crafted.
Staff here are friendly, welcoming, and extremely efficient – as is evident from the fact that our bread beat us to our table. There are numerous waiters and waitresses, who swing by periodically to check if all is well, and overall, service is very speedy.
In comparison to its reputation, Gokyuzu is a very humble, medium-sized restaurant, with a decor that is relatively simple, yet attractive. Comfortable wooden tables and leather-laden chairs sit upon the plain-tiled floors, and numerous paintings and chandelier-style light fixtures occupy the walls and ceilings respectively. The restaurant is a quick 10-15 minute walk away from Harringay or Harringay Green Lanes railway stations, and a brief 10-minute bus-ride or 15-20 minute walk from Manor house station. Personally, I’d recommend you travel via Manor house station – especially if you’re visiting towards the latter parts of the evening or the night. Mainly because there’s a very strong sense of “lurking-serial-killer” in the air at the railway stations. Parking spaces in the nearby residential roads should be more than easy to find.
Gokyuzu has a very relaxed and casual ambience, which is perfect for a casual get-together with friends. Whilst the surroundings aren’t overly extravagant, they don’t particularly need to be, since the environment itself is welcoming, homely, and comfortable.
With simple, no-nonsense Turkish food that is simply great, Gokyuzu makes a clear and simple statement: Turkish restaurants don’t have to be poncey to be good. Indeed, my favourite Turkish restaurants thus far have been those that lie on the higher-end of the restaurant-spectrum. Until now, simpler Turkish restaurants have failed to grasp my affections for a variety of reasons – most of which revolve around dry and mediocre meat served at inflated prices. Gokyuzu rejects Anglicisation and frivolity, takes Turkish cuisine back to its basics, and simultaneously advances it to a higher level. Many proclaim them to be the best of the best in all things Turkish, and whilst I still have many more Harringay veterans to critique before I can agree with such statements for sure, I can certainly say that they’ve earned my respect and admiration. Gokyuzu. The home of honest, humble, and hearty Turkish food in the heart of Harringay.