70 Askew Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 9BJ
Price: £20 per person (excluding drinks)
This is an example of how London hides its little culinary gems in the most disparate places and how you can encounter special and authentic flavours behind every corner. Sufi is a gem of real Persian cuisine. And I say real because I found no difference from the amazing flavours I recall from Tehran and Esfahan.
The menu is pretty full, but I strongly suggest to always look at the specials on the table. For example, zereshk polo, which is my favourite dish in Persian cuisine is not part of the a la carte menu and is only served when among the specials. Persians have a great passion for grilled meat that is always shared during special occasions. For this reason the menu covers a great deal of different grill options. But I recommend to always try one or two of their amazing stews. These are the flavours that actually make Persian cuisine stand out and above all other Middle Eastern cuisines. They use local ingredients that are unique to Iran and have great creativity when it comes to association of flavours. Therefore in your stew and in your rice you can find a lot of different varianti: barberries, walnuts, pomegranate, sour black cherries, oranges and dried lemons. And of course a mix of all the herbs The Caspian and Mediterranean seas can offer.
Zereshk Polo and Ghormeh Sabzi
I had the pleasure to have zereshk polo here (chicken with barberries rice) and I can easily say it is one of the best I had in London. We also had a beautiful lamb shank with dill rice where the lamb was as tender as a flower. All their stew are absolutely amazing, especially their Khoresht Fesenjan (walnut and pomegranate stew). But if you are in a daring mood, I suggest you give Ghormeh Sabzi a go, I can assure you that the herb mix of this peculiar green stew will be an absolute novelty.
And of course the restaurant is not short of a clay oven for you to have fresh bread and a myriad of different starters and dips to entice the appetite. Suggestion: try Tah Digg, among the starters. This is a particular crispy rice that in Iranian households is the result of the cooking o rice on high heat. It is a special treat always served to special guests.
The place does not fall short of ambience either. The unique flavours of herbs and delicate spices, the colours of the berries, aubergines and dill and dim lights glued by the gentle warmth of the clay oven make for an almost inebriating experience. You could be having dinner there with Wordsworth or Eliot…or Omar Khayyam.