Turkish delight? Reviews welcome

Wansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange writes:

It’s great for someone like to have a new restaurant in town. So I’m delighted the new Zaki Turkish restaurant has opened at the former Russell’s on Wanstead High Street. Naturally, being a busy woman with a well-planned social life, I can’t and indeed won’t go to a new restaurant at short notice. The menu, produced below in hi-resolution (if you click it), gives an indication of what’s on offer, but I should be grateful of any initial reports from my fellow Wanstead diners. If you have been please add your reviews through the comments form.



When Mr Orange was a child, an aunt would visit from New York bringing all sorts of American delicacies… Kool-Aid, Pez sweets, Fluff. This last product was, disturbingly, pots of actual marshmallow to spread on sandwiches, mostly with peanut butter in a concoction termed a fluffernutter. It’s frankly shocking he turned out so well adjusted and handsome. The treats weren’t all gross, though. Innocently enough, those he most favoured were sesame seed breadsticks.


Nowadays of course nothing is unobtainable – you can even buy Fluff if you look hard enough – but the whole sesame breadstick joy returned to my beloved when visiting the Italian market on Wanstead High Street on Saturday. For him a pretty authentic recreation of childhood joys.

Breadsticks (rather than neat marshmallow) are a way of life for the Orange children. So no surprise that they more interested in mini croissants – chocolate and lemon – which were just some of the treats on offer (pictured). They were remarkable little things: the pastry was extremely crunchy but the filling moist and oozing out. Biting into one made me feel like I’d bitten the head off a giant delicious cicada.

The Market is there again on Sunday and if you’re about is worth a visit. Dolcelatte, fresh Parmesan and other cheeses, pesto and olives. All that was lacking was a serving of the most delicious soup I’ve ever tasted – ribollita, bought once from a deli in Lucca. Anyone with recipes (or even better, a sample) would be a friend forever.


PS. Wise words from new pal of Wansteadium, @oliviaads

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12 thoughts on “Turkish delight? Reviews welcome”

  1. I ate at Zak on Saturday eve with 3 friends. I think they would be kinder than I, but personally it didn’t rock my boat.

    Unless I am mistaken, the menu is identical to that of the Olive Tree, opposite Leytonstone Tube so I assume it’s the same folk. That menu is the first problem, as the restaurant is just too dark. The feint script of the thing makes it almost impossible to read. It must have looked like we were playing Twister, as we contorted to find a source of light up to which to hold.

    I wondered if they had an interest in preventing one from seeing what one is eating. My prawn starter was barely luke warm, but the place was heaving and not overstaffed (that said, it was fairly efficient considering how busy). Had it been quieter I would have asked them to warm up.

    I then had a mixed grill, which is a generous portion, but what concerned me was the very rare chunks of lamb mixed with chicken on the skewer. I like medium, even rare at a push, but not when it’s chicken. I tried to see if the chicken was cooked through, but couldn’t – even with glasses – so dark is the place. It tasted cooked, albeit only just, and I haven’t been ill so I guess it was OK. I left some of the lamb, as it was not of good enough quality to be eaten that undercooked. I was in a “horse between two mattresses” state, not having eaten all day, and if any, was less fussy than usual.

    The others enjoyed their food, I believe. I’ve eaten at the Olive Tree several times recently (in daylight) and it’s been OK so I’ll put my Zak experience down to teething troubles. I haven’t found it anything special, however. I prefer Turkish Mangal at South Woodford, which is cheaper, more authentic and one can see each other as well as the menu.

    I’ll certainly give Zak another go, but maybe give it time to settle. I’m sure it will do OK. PLEASE, however, turn the flippn lights up a bit!

    My hope for this site was an Italian, doing simple fresh and cheap(ish)food (Carluccios style, but not Carluccios). A certain never empty establishment doing neither has had it’s own way too long in my view.

  2. My sister and I ate at Zaki, for the first time, on Satuday night. I had the vegetrain meze, which was absolutely delicious and good value for money. My sister had the salmon, which was perfectly cooked and tasted fantastic. The staff were friendly and attentive and the menu seemed excellent. It’s great to finally have another choice of cuisine in Wanstead. The last hing we neede woukd have been yet anoher curry house! We didn’t find the restaurant too dark. I would say that it is possibly priced as if it is a restaurant in the City, if you do not go for one of the value for money 2 course mezes. The toilets were a bit sub-standard but on the whole we loved Zaki and will definitely return.

  3. My husband and I ate at Zaki today for lunch and were extremely disappointed. The menu is overpriced and the food mediocre. I had the minced chicken and rice; the chicken smelt as if it was just about to go off. My husband had sea bass which he said was nice but nothing special. The high price is then compounded by the addition of non-discretionary service charge which adds insult to injury. We ended up spending £30 for a lunch that wasn’t worth a tenner. If you want good Turkish food, the Kebab House around the corner provides more flavoursome food at a fraction of the cost. Alternatively the Wood Oven in George Lane, South Woodford is good and reasonably priced (service there isn’t great but the standard of the food helps you to overlook this!) I will definitely not be going to Zaki again.

  4. We welcome all comments good or bad, we feel this is very important for us to continuously improve. But…… regarding the last comment I feel this is slightly unfair.
    Firstly the chicken kofte and sea bass on the lunch time menu is priced at £8.95 for the chicken & £10.50 for the sea bass which comes to a total of = £19.45. Secondly the menu states that this is a discretionary service charge (Pls zoom in on the menu above which clearly states this on the bottom) and NOT a NON-DISCRETIONARY as stated by the previous comment. Thirdly we operate a no quibble policy that if we receive any complaints about an item we are more then happy to change the dish or exchange this for another dish.

    All our meat, poultry and fish are sourced on a daily basis from very reputable companies. All our grill dishes are cooked to order on a charcoal grill and are NOT prepped before. This ensures our dishes are as fresh as possible. I’m very SURPRISED to hear the comment of “smelt off” We only use fresh products and personally if I ordered a meal and thought my dish was off the first thing I would do is complain and get my meal replaced. Which you obviously did not do. I have checked our loggs and there was no complaints made on the 28th Dec so it is very hard to verify your comments.

    On a final note “I offer my apologises that we did not meet your expectations and I would be more then happy to hear your comments in person.”

  5. We celebrated one of our son’s 40th birthdays yesterday at Zaki Turkish Restaurant in Wanstead. We were a party of 6. The food was excellent. The mixed grill was delicious and the meat melted in the mouth, being of superior quality. All our needs were attended to quickly by friendly and courteous staff. The atmosphere was great and we had a splendid time. We will be visiting again soon and can recommend highly. Very good value for money.

  6. We thought we’d give the mixed grill a try, as recommended here, and were definitely not disappointed. What a tasty meat feast! No problems with the lighting and all the staff were friendly and quick to serve us. The prices are probably slightly higher than we normally pay but as a treat it was a very nice evening.

  7. Although I wasn’t unhappy with the food which we receieved it really is nothing to write home about. The lamb was fine and tasty but very standard fare, I’m sure the kebab shop round the corner can do just as good a job. The main reason I won’t be going back is the price 2 x kebabs a couple of small beers & squid starter came to almost £50 which for this kind of food is a bit steep to say the least. The chilli sauce is a complete joke btw no detectable chilli in it!? If you fancy a good kebab and don’t want to go to stoke newington, the Wood Oven in SoUth Woodford beats Zaki hands down and is a little cheaper. Not amused….

  8. I’m surprised by some of the negative comments on here which seem to me to be very unfair. I’ve been to Zaki three times now and in my experience the food is lovely, the portions generous, and the staff very friendly. The mixed meze starter and the Turkish coffee in particular are delicious! It’s really nice to have something a bit different from the usual Italian and Indian on the local high street. Regarding the pricing, as an occasional treat I don’t think the prices are at all unreasonable – especially considering the huge portions!

  9. Have to say I largely agree with Wansteater above, Zaki is a welcome addition to the High Street. I’ve never enjoyed Turkish coffee but perhaps I’ll give it a go next time I visit!

  10. I went to Zaki last night with five other friends and had a fantastic meal. We are all students and thus very sensitive to pricey food, but I wouldn’t say that this is the case with Zaki at all. I actually thought it was great value for money. Me and my friends all shared two portions of hummus which came with lovely bread. We all enjoyed our main courses too, I had been there before and knew what to recommend to my fellow meat eaters, and all three of us enjoyed our chicken iskender kebab! In fact I would say it was much better than my first visit! The portions are large and I didn’t manage to finish mine but I wouldn’t say that is a bad thing, I’m glad they were generous! Two of my friends enjoyed their veggie meals too so it was a hit for everyone!

    In terms of service they were extremely attentive. The service was very fast and all our food came at the same time. I defiantly didn’t notice a problem with the lights. I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily a bad thing to be very similar to the olive tree, as i have loved every meal I have had there. They obviously know what they did right there and brought that to zaki. I think to have a Turkish restaurant in Wanstead is fantastic as we don’t have anything near the quality of that type of food within Wanstead. Despite being more expensive than Wood Oven, it is 100% better quality and more comfortable.

    My only complaint would be that it was very quiet. I really hope they are doing well and this was just a one off but I found this odd for a Friday night. Maybe as a suggestion to attract more students is to make it possible to bring your own bottle of wine. This would defiantly get the students in!

    In conclusion, I have really enjoyed my experiences with zaki, with great food for a great price and great service. It’s great as a family meal or meal with friends. I will defiantly be returning to zaki in the near future.

  11. like many other comments, had a great evening at Zaki, food delicious, service very good, will report to all my friends, and I hope to go there often and eventually try everything

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