The Kyrgyz Kazakh restaurant at Hotel Pasha is, perhaps, the strangest establishment I have ever eaten at.
Nestled amongst an unusually high concentration of pawnshops, barbers and nail bars – which have an odd habit of staying open all night in South East London – this souk-themed boutique eatery is one of the city’s hidden gems.
To enter you walk down a (very) long and garishly lit corridor, which leads to a peculiar room with a crimson pool table and an eerily lifelike painted statue of a Kazakh woman, before you finally reach the dining area, where this restaurant reveals to you what a gloriously relaxed environment it really is.
The walls are kitted out with exotic patterned fabrics, the floors are covered with rich Persian rugs and there is even a bridge over an indoor pond filled with carp and a lonely turtle.
Whilst there are conventional tables and chairs available, I prefer to get comfortable on the wonderfully embroidered cushions and dine at the low tables. The house red wine costs about £ 11 and is very agreeable. The starters range from £ 3.50 to £ 6 and most of the mains will set you back less than a tenner.
I absolutely adore the Yogurtlu Kizartma starter, which is a selection of Mediterranean vegetables fried in a spiced tomato and yoghurt sauce, and I usually match this dish with a collection of other starters to form a mezze platter.