Selin Kiazim is pushing the boundaries of Turkish food at Oklava, drawing on her Turkish Cypriot heritage and an adventurous palate to deliver perfectly balanced plates with smart modern touches.
74 Luke St
Contact Details
  • 02077293032
  • Visit website
  • Oklava
    74 Luke St , Hackney, en-GB, London , EC2A 4PY
    Restaurant reservations

    Before Selin Kiazim opened Oklava in October 2015, our knowledge of Turkish food was, in hindsight, rather blinkered. We understood the allure of a kebab, and we feasted on hummus and taramasalata out of plastic tubs, but the true extent of Turkish cuisine lay out of sight and out of mind. As one of the oldest permanently settled regions in the world; Turkey has an incredible culinary history that stretches back thousands of years. Oklava was one of the first restaurants to really introduce us to the depth and complexity of Turkish food, and under Selin’s leadership, the restaurant has become a trailblazer for modern Turkish food in the UK.

    The space itself certainly has a touch of Ottoman opulence about it – it’s all royal blue and burnished copper, with dark wooden tabletops and a long wooden bar that stretches along the back wall, demarcating the restaurant’s open kitchen. There’s a majestic wood-fired oven in the corner, where fresh loaves of baharat bread are baked every morning, as well as pides, flatbreads and more, and a charcoal grill takes pride of place next to it. The restaurant was probably pristine once upon a time, but today Oklava feels well worn and homely, like an old palace that has hosted many years of exuberant feasting.

    Selin draws much of her cooking from her own Turkish Cypriot heritage – the baharat bread, for example, is her grandmother’s recipe – but there’s a real understanding of flavour, texture and balance here that points back to her time at The Providores alongside fusion supremo Peter Gordon. The pomegranate-glazed lamb breast with yogurt is a gorgeous balancing act of rich, fatty lamb and sharp accompaniments. Monkfish is grilled on the bone, and served with a one-two punch of urfa chilli and citrus caramel. The chilli-roast cauliflower with red onion, parsley and pistachio holds a fair claim to being one of the best vegan dishes in all of London – a mouthwatering mix of earthy chilli, cut with the bright acidity of lemon and a fresh herb salad. Everything at Oklava begs to be shared and devoured among friends – this is partly down to the size of the plates but also because everything on the menu is absolutely delicious.

    The wine list is compact and sticks to a similar vein – you won’t find anything French or new world here, just a selection of white, orange, pink, red and sparkling wines from Turkey, Greece and Armenia. There’s a similarly concise cocktail menu that draws on Turkish inspirations, including a baharat-spiced old fashioned and a sumac and pomegranate martini. If you’re looking for somewhere to stretch your tastebuds and try something that is both authentic and modern at the same time, you’ll be in good hands at Oklava.

    Three things you should know
    Selin held a number of residencies and pop-ups before teaming with Laura Christie (Oklava’s co-founder and director) to move into a permanent site in Oklava.
    Oklava has a sister restaurant originally called Kyseri, which opened in 2018 and served a menu inspired by the food of central Turkey. At the end of 2019 it transformed into Oklava Bakery + Wine, following a successful crowdfunding campaign.
    If you want to cook Oklava food at home, you can buy a copy of Selin's cookbook – also called Oklava – from the restaurant.
    74 Luke St , Hackney, en-GB, London , EC2A 4PY
    Restaurant reservations