Review: New Turkish Restaurant Yosma Is A Blast In Every Way
Executive chef Hus Vedat stands in the kitchen at Yosma, silhouetted by the smoke curling behind him. He's telling us how worked up people get over Turkish food traditions, something he's recently experienced as a result of his approach to Anatolian cuisine. It seems that changing ingredients, presentation — or indeed any detail of a popular dish — causes outrage among those who think they know it all.
The irony is, of course, that it's the people quietly getting on with knowing their stuff who actually push things forward. Sticklers for tradition, on the whole (not exclusively) tend to be those who feel threatened. Playing around with any good dish is a risky business (as one look at the mushy pulled pork epidemic will tell you) but when a chef knows his onions/other foodstuffs, great things can happen.
Welcome then, to Yosma, where we spent several hours plonked grill-side, keen to get a good visual on the action, clinking ice cubes into raki filled glasses, enjoying wave after wave of excellent food. A decision was made to leave everything in the hands of our hosts when it came to ordering, a conscious effort to avoid defaulting to old favourites like kebabs and ezme salad. Boy, did it pay off and then some.
We kick off with cold meze, and a rather plain looking dish of fava, which turns out to be a joy. This sometimes-dull preparation of soaked broad beans fell from our repertoire years ago but here it's a delicate, pale puree, a masterclass in coaxing the best from the dried legumes. Spread it onto their lamb fat brushed flatbreads and you will be a better person.
Pastirma is also some of the best we've eaten. Made in collaboration with British charcuterie experts Cobble Lane Cured, based in Islington, it's packed with flavour from Çemen, a hot chilli paste with fenugreek and cumin. Dinky capers prickle with acidity.
Other stand out dishes include a perfect mullet, dredged in a touch of flour and egg and fried, until pearlescent segments are teased away whole. It takes confidence to serve such a simple dish. Meat eaters will find plenty to love too, because this is Turkish food and there will be lamb. A dish of belly pulls apart, all meat and fat and smoke infused satisfaction. A plate of sizzling chops thumbs the right buttons, their fat spitting, the flesh salty and drenched with olive oil and flutters of mint. There's a delicacy here too, the pinkness within, a tender touch with the spicing.
We move on through dishes of crisp skinned chicken, corn and tahini (a rich, sweet and salty delight), manti, those excellent Turkish dumplings, plump with lamb, softened by yoghurt, fired with spiced butter. We can't find fault with anything, nor do we look for it, we're having such a good time. This is a place filled with laughter and the clatter of plates and cutlery — a place to come and worship the flavours of one of the world's greatest cuisines, which reminds us to tell you about dessert.
Kunefe is a real headliner — a shock to the uninitiated sure, but up there with profiteroles, crepe suzette, sticky toffee pudding, whatever. Lengths of noodle are soaked in sugar syrup and in the centre, you'll find a nucleus of stringy, salty cheese. It's crisp, sweet, savoury, gooey — a head fuck in the nicest possible way.
Yosma is the new face of Turkish food in London. Yes, we love the super traditional stuff up on Green Lanes, but there's room for a little progression. It's time to put away the waggling fingers and see Yosma for what it is — a restaurant serving fantastic produce, perfectly cooked, by a chef writing a love letter to his Turkish origins. You'd be a fool not to get in on the action.
Yosma, 50 Baker Street, W1U 7BT
Last Updated 26 January 2017