Ali Baba

Oh houmous. Or hummus. Or hommos. Or humus. I haven’t tried you a million times in every vaguely middle eastern restaurant and all the Quins hang-outs in West London (All-Bar-One, Pitcher & Piano, Slug & Lettuce). I don’t eat you at every opportunity already? Even though you nearly never have enough garlic in. I don’t serve you at my monthly mixers? (Where local community leaders are discreetly introduced to young college age girls who’ve lost their way and desperately need guidance for a very reasonable fee, first-come-first-served and no questions asked). Humus is like catnip to those guys. It’s basically the prawn cocktail of the 2000s.

And so it will come as no surprise that this is how it kicked off when myself, Mrs Del Monte, and her friend “The Hurricane”, or simply Hurricane, started off at Ali Baba, an Egyptian restaurant near Baker Street. We were starving, and hoovered the humous down. It’s tasty enough I suppose, but I must’ve had some amazing houmus at some point in the past so that I think all other hummus is going to be like that which is why I relentlessly order hommus at every opportunity. The tabbouleh was very nice though. With the help of Hurricane who is of Egyptian extraction, we failed to ingratiate ourselves with the elderly waitress who’d clearly just lost money on the horses, and went for the most Egyptian options on the menu: Bamia and Molokhia stews, with lamb and chicken respectively. Bamia is nice enough, but could have done with something extra to make it truly flavoursome. Maybe stock. I don’t eat enough Okra. The Molokhia was something else. A flavourless ectoplasm clinging to the chicken took a steely determination to try. Imagine being asked to imbibe a lot of camel snot, which I imagine might taste of something at least. The Molokhia let you appreciate the flavour of the chicken exclusively. Mrs Del Monte opted for the Kabsa which came with red rice and ate it until it hurt.

I then very bravely tried the Om Ali, a milky, nutty, dried fruity pudding. Imagine the bastard offspring of crème brûlée and bread and butter pudding, then imagine me gagging on it. Overall, I’d recommend the place. £60 for 3 people including service charge. They also do kebabs. No beer, even though it was invented in Egypt, but we enjoyed the lemon and mint juice which I can’t get enough of.

مصر‎!

Hoummouss

Hoummouss

Tabbouleh. There is nothing more to add.

Tabbouleh. There is nothing more to add.

Kubbeh, hatched.

Kubbeh, hatched.

Waiter, waiter, my rice appears to have a half-formed alien foetus gestating it. Shush madame, or they'll all want one.

Waiter, waiter, my rice appears to have a half-formed alien foetus gestating in it. Shush madame, or they’ll all want one.

Bamia. Okra looks somehow indecent, but I like it.

Bamia. Okra looks somehow indecent, but I like it.

The chicken emerging from the corchorus slime like Martin Sheen from the water at the end of Apocalypse Now!

The chicken emerging from the corchorus slime like Martin Sheen from the water at the end of Apocalypse Now!

Hurricane tackles the slime. Fun fact: Pat Sharp's Fun House was the number 1 consumer of Molokhia for it's repeated and always hilarious gungings until it was cancelled in 1999. Only 14 short years later Big Fun failed to reunite - coincidence?

Hurricane tackles the slime. Fun fact: Pat Sharp’s Fun House was the number 1 consumer of Molokhia for it’s repeated and always hilarious gungings until it was cancelled in 1999. Only 14 short years later Big Fun failed to reunite – coincidence?

Om Ali. All my school dinner nightmares rolled into one.

Om Ali. All my school dinner nightmares rolled into one.

Le menu.

Le menu.

Mrs Del Monte and The Hurricane. I'll let you decide who the bigger show off is.

Mrs Del Monte and The Hurricane. I’ll let you decide who the bigger show off is. It’s both of them.

The outside. The name on the awning means the restaurant is visible to police helicopters.

The outside. The name on the awning means the restaurant is visible to police helicopters.

Ali Baba
32 Ivor Place
London
NW1 6DA
Tel: 020 7723 7474

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8 comments

  1. Natalie Chalaby · · Reply

    And yes that was brilliantly written! We had a great time I just wish I could have converted you more to the Molokhia and Om Ali. Your blog truly rocks and is by far the most interesting thing any of our friends are doing well done Charlie!!
    I want to be your assistant but I can’t promise not to lie to you especially when food is concerned!!

    1. You hear that all other friends? You suck!

  2. Natalie Chalaby · · Reply

    In fact I’m pretty sure you are the most inspiring guy to have come along in a long time!!

    1. True. It’s basically just me and Lance Armstrong.

  3. Natalie Chalaby · · Reply

    Big guy have a look at the photo of us you are strangely in the mirror!

    1. I think people looking at that photo will rate me as a distant 3rd strangest

  4. Rachael Sigee · · Reply

    I heard a rumour that a downward dog was involved in this restaurant experience. I cannot believe this did not make the blog.

    1. I hesitate to use the word dog in a review, especially in a place that sells kebabs. People might get the wrong idea

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