East London Food & Culture

Etles Hoe Street

Two BYOB places for Uyghur food: Etles E17 and Kefil Food E9

This underrated cuisine is well worth a walk for its hand-pulled noodles, rice dishes and dumplings

Etles, Hoe Street

I’m not sure why it’s taken me years of living in the area to visit low-key Uyghur restaurant Etles on Hoe Street. Better still, if you’re walking from Leyton, it’s *this* side of Hoe Street, handily located before you even reach central Walthamstow.

Etles, Hoe Street. Photo: SE

While the cooking reflects, as the menu says, the “rich and colourful history of this ancient people with a long presence in eastern Central Asia”, the turquoise-white interior of the narrow dining room is simple, with a couple of portraits and wall-hangings. Recently scoring highly in Time Out’s Best BYOB guide, I expected it to be rammed, Singburi-style, by 6pm: but happily it wasn’t, despite my friend and I firmly seated by 530 (tip: by 7pm, however, they were turning people away).

It’s a menu that demands repeat visits but I think we chose well: a trio of steamed dumplings (above) were an umami-packed treat of slow-cooked lamb and onions, the the third meticulously sliced. Paprika salad was a spicy mound of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes with a vinegary hit.


Etles, Hoe Street. Photo: SE
Etles, Hoe Street. Photo: SE

Traditional leghmen – the hand-pulled noodles with beef and vegetables in a peppery sauce was delicious, if not as refined as Homerton restaurant Kefil Food’s version (see below), while a plate of moreish Kung Pao chicken was stir-fried with peanuts, chilli peppers and served with perfect rice (so fluffy we ordered another). It’s handily BYOB, of course, but bear in mind the 20% service charge they implement to cover this which jumped the bill up slightly. Etles, 235 Hoe St, London E17 9PP

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Kefil Food
Kefil Food. Photo: SE

Läghmän at Kefil Food, Homerton

This is a classic which deserves to be busier. Next to the candlelit Adam & Eve pub on noisy Homerton High Street, this simply furnished, brightly-lit diner dishes up excellent Uyghur cuisine from the autonomous region of Xinjiang. This straddling of east and central Asia is reflected in dishes which include noodle soups, polow (a take on pilaf), lamb skewers, seasoned grilled chicken wings and the signature läghmän (note the difference in spelling from Etles), hand-pulled (and hand-cut) wheat noodles.

Boiled extra-long to achieve a chewy consistency, the noodles are topped with stir-fried ultra-tender beef (or lamb) alongside onions, peppers, tomatoes, cabbages, chills and spices. Vegetarian dry-fried noodles are equally flavoursome. On my last visit we loved the baked samosas, ultra fiery “appetiser salad” and spicy fried prawn bowl, too.No corkage, either. 151 Homerton High St, London E9 6AS, no website

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