Where To Eat Yemeni Food In London

Six spots where you’ll find tender slow-cooked lamb, flaky motabag, and the kind of desserts worth going out of your way for.
A spread of dishes on a table at Bab al-Yemen.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

A cuisine that’s rich in spices and slow-cooked meats, Yemeni food is the kind that you'll want to come back to again and again. Historically influenced by its neighbours, many traditional Yemeni dishes have similarities to things found in India, East Africa, the Mediterranean, and even East Asia. Think huge portions of slow-cooked lamb shank, crispy-skinned chicken, and the kind of flatbread that you’ll get flashbacks of as you’re going about your day. While there are only a handful of Yemeni restaurants in London, we’ve tried them all so you know which to prioritise. 

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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:Catching Up With MatesHalalWalk-InsBig GroupsCasual Weeknight Dinner
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This spacious Yemeni spot, on a quiet corner in Paddington, is usually skirted by people smoking shisha at all times of the day and feels like a proper neighbourhood staple. Inside, it's old-school and simple, with stone interiors that pay homage to the Old City of Sana’a. But you're not here for interiors inspiration, it’s for excellent food. You can’t leave without trying the laham madfoon. Forget cutlery and pull apart the lamb shank with your hands or even better, eat it with the buttery ratab bread. The layers of thin flatbread are generously lathered with ghee, and we’d come back for this bread alone.

This Yemeni cafe in Fitzrovia is a chic, minimalist spot that makes you feel automatically cool just for being there. It’s a great place to go when you’re hoping to get a fun snack with your coffee. Or in Qima’s case, your matcha fizz or fruity ruby latte. In the morning, it’s often filled with people typing away on their laptops, and friends catching up over a yuzu iced coffee come afternoon. If it’s on the menu, it's crucial you get the mushroom truffle croissant at lunchtime. The béchamel-filled pastry has a perfect balance between the creamy, peppery sauce and earthy mushrooms.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Bab Al-Yemen has a corner where shoes are left by the door and groups gather cross-legged over a pre-ordered £300 lamb. But the well-seasoned meats—like the slow-cooked, tender lamb haneeth, or the golden chicken mandi that you’ll want to eat with flaky ratab bread and colourful, softly spiced rice—are excellent choices whether you’re rolling in a group or alone. No matter how full you get, a meal should always end with the masoob with cream and honey (a dessert of mashed bananas, shredded flatbread, cream, and honey). And if eating cross-legged on the floor isn’t your thing, there are usually plenty of walk-in tables available if you're around West Brompton.

Everyone who eats at Yamany Corner, a warm and inviting restaurant in Paddington, will be given a complimentary bowl of hot maraq to start. It’s a clear, yellowish, brothy lamb soup with a deep, meaty flavour that starts the meal as it should go on: with meat as the focus. The tender chicken mandi arrives golden and glistening, with a lemon that you should absolutely squeeze over it. And the lamb mandi is nicely browned and perfectly pink inside when you pull it apart. The dining room is often filled with families having a casual weekend dinner, or friends who strolled in randomly after seeing the warm orange glow from outside.

Hijazi Corner, a popular spot off Edgware Road, has a mix of Yemeni and Saudi dishes, and seems deceptively like a takeaway shop with a few sit-down tables from the outside. But once you pass the till and go down the stairs, you’ll find a lively, packed-out dining room. On any given Tuesday there’ll be a pile of shoes by the entrance of the floor seating as rowdy groups sit cross-legged on the traditional Yemeni-style floor set-up, scooping mandi with their hands and splitting a whole lamb 15 ways. Pay attention to the big bakery section of the menu. Motabag is a a folded pastry filled with things like minced meat (which sounds good but can be a little bland), so we prefer the cheddar one, filled with leeks, tomatoes, and sharp, melted cheese.

The first thing we noticed as we stepped into this narrow spot is the chef rolling out mulawah—a layered, Yemeni flatbread—in the long kitchen that takes up the length of the tight restaurant. Warm, welcoming smiles come from over the counter, as regulars stroll in asking if the motabak is ready (chances are if you come early, it’s not). Although there are tables for two lined up against the wall, Taste Of Yemen feels more like a waiting room. If you’re looking for more of a sit-down situation, you’re better off walking through to their garden at the back where groups tuck into the limited menu of lamb and chicken mandi. The chicken is tender and the raisin-topped, fried onion-filled mandi rice is packed with flavour, so it’ll do for a casual weeknight dinner if you’re in the area.

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