Alounak

Persian
by HGAT | 07/09/2013
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7.0/10

Everyone has one of those lists of classic fail-safe restaurants that is turned to when in need. Mine seems to be exceptionally long and I tend to have moments where I will visit the same restaurant more than five times in a month; I can’t help it – once my trust has been earned, I’m the number one fan. However, when that restaurant then all of a sudden turns against you after a bad experience, you fight not to, but end up having to cross it off your list to never look back at again.

This happened with Alounak – an absolute old time favourite of mine! The restaurant reigned as the “King of all Persian restaurants in London” for all my years growing up until Valentines day, of all days, when the food and service was so poor that it caused Alounak to get crossed off my list! I tried different Persian restaurants ,but none of them impressed me like Alounak had once before.

Months later, BW, a regular at Alounak, hinted that we pay a visit to the restaurant just so I wouldn’t lose complete hope in the place. I reluctantly agreed and one evening, before the food rush hour, we grabbed a table. I was anxious to see if Alounak still had it and we proceeded with our order.

Paneer Sabzi
Paneer SabziFeta cheese, turnips, walnuts, mint & tarragon; what on earth was this dish?  Is it a salad or an ‘actual’ appetiser, which I still do not know.  BW insisted I try this leafy dish.  I had no clue what he wanted me to do or how to go about eating this until he showed me his version, which probably isn’t correct, but made sense and tasted good to me.  First of all, you grab your bread and smoosh the cheese, walnut and green leaves in together.  Then last of all take a bite and let the nutty, cheesy and creamy flavours envelope you into perfect serenity.

Mast-o-Khiyar
Mast O Khiyar
For those that are unaware, this is yoghurt mixed in with cucumbers and mint. Its best eaten with the hot and crispy house bread or, even better, with the main meal that you order.

Chelo-Kabab Chenjeh & Koobideh
Lamb Kofte & Shish
The first thing I did when my plate arrived was to grab a slab of butter and smother my rice in it – how can you not!  I then proceeded to take a bite – Oh yes, Alounak definitely still had it. My lamb kofte was soft and juicy with a slight garlicky kick to it.  My shish was easy to cut through when hot, but still managed to remain juicy and have the same effect once cold. There was no chewiness in any of the mouthfuls I had taken, which only shows that the meat was perfectly cooked – not under or over done.

Chicken Special
Lamb & Chicken
The chicken shish chunks were soft and so well cooked that when you took a bite, you could feel the chicken juices oozing out. BW did the traditional butter practice and then did something different; he sprinkled some sort of red powder all over his rice. I never understood why one would use red chilli powder on rice when you can always ask for chilli sauce to add on the side.  I looked on in awe and confusion, plus jealousy, until he noticed and allowed me to have a (small) bite of this magical powder and rice combination. This mysterious red dust was amazing and consisted of different spices to help add even more flavour rather than spice to the meat and rice. After much research, BW informed me that this red dust was pomegranate powder and is known as somouk.

I left feeling warm and fuzzy inside. This was my sort of comfort food – hot melted butter on soft fluffy saffron rice with meaty chunks of heaven. Alounak’s name was swiftly put back on the list after that day.  The service was amicable and the food delicious, which only taught me that I have to always be willing to give restaurants a second chance.  Sadly, I don’t think my hips will allow me to consume rice drowned in butter five times a month, but it’s the sort of place I would have to visit at least once a month to get my Persian fix!

Address: 44 Westbourne Grove, London, Greater London W2 5SH
Telephone: 0207 229 0416
Website: http://alounakrestaurant.com/
Closest Station: Bayswater or Queensway station
Parking: Pay and display parking on surrounding streets

Address: 10 Russell Gardens, London, W14 8EZ
Telephone: 0207 603 1130
Website: http://alounakrestaurant.com
Closest Station: Kensington Station
Parking: Pay and display on surrounding streets

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  1. I love your blog! So glad I found it. You have such a great way with words and thank you for bringing my attention to new restaurants I didn’t know about.

      • Halal Socrates
      • 08/09/2013
      Reply

      Did you not try any other dishes? What are the chicken options or even other meat options? Expected a little more to be honest….

      1. Reply

        There’s only so much that two people can eat so I like to make people aware of the place and arouse interest so that they try out new dishes and let me know 🙂

    • Mr F
    • 03/10/2013
    Reply

    Excuse me if I’ve missed it but where is this place? Might be worth putting the addresses on each of the posts you make, so we can all enjoy your adventures 🙂

    1. Reply

      I just updated the post!

      Will take note and start adding in locations! 🙂

    • Anonymous
    • 17/10/2013
    Reply

    One of my favorite London restaurants, despite service not being one of their main concerns 🙂

    But the food sure makes up for it and this is vindicated by the frequent long queues every evening.

    Btw, have you tried Kandoo in edgware road (the quite side)? I think it comes pretty close to Alounak in terms of food quality.

    • Muttee Ahmad
    • 16/01/2014
    Reply

    I have been there and also Sadaf but I never went back to alounak and whenever I want to eat Persian, I always go to sadaf. There fresh from oven Nan bread is just simply amazing and it is made in front of your eyes and brought to your table. their lamb is absolutely the best. I suggest you try that too and do a comparison.

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    • Amina
    • 09/09/2014
    Reply

    An inferior choice compared to Behesht in Willesden Junction… I would really recommend that you try and review that one 🙂 let us know how you get on xx

    • Anon
    • 22/11/2014
    Reply

    Good review of Alounak.

    I would have to agree with one of the previous contributors about Sadaf having a far far superior offering (with admittedly somewhat modest decor).

    Sumac (or sumak/sumaq/sumach) is not a pomegranate powder, but rather the powder of a fruit of the sumac plant. Although in appearance it is quite similar to pomegranate powder. I use them interchangeably in cooking and on salads, although nothing beats sumac on a kebab:)

    Happy exploring!

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    • shad
    • 13/04/2015
    Reply

    Do you know if they serve hmc meats

    • Cassie
    • 14/03/2017
    Reply

    Love your blog thank you. Wondering though which Persian places are not halal in london.

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