Alan Yau is best known for defining the London Chinese restaurant scene, from Wagamama to Yauatcha to Hakkasan to Duck + Rice. But with this restaurant, he’s certainly gone off on a tangent – thanks in part to his Turkish wife (and occasional business partner), and possibly also influenced by his trips to Istanbul where the first non-UK branch of Hakkasan is located. This is Babaji Pide Salonu, a “Turkish pizza joint”, on the corner of Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.
Peer in through the windows to see the bright blue tiled interior, a huge domed pizza oven and traditionally dressed servers. I highly recommend stepping inside.
Pide (pronounced ‘pee-day’) are elliptical, pizza-like dishes (our favourite was a goat’s cheese, pepper and walnut combination, ~£8), pre-sliced into handy bite-sized chunks, and delicious with a couple of traditional Turkish mezzes or salads on the side (think smoky aubergine, calamari, houmous or tomato and pomegranate salad).
The downstairs may look small, but there’s an upstairs dining room as well, accessed via the blue tiled stairway. Be sure to check out the loos too – the blue hue continues, and I think they’re the most beautiful bathrooms I’ve been in for a while!
Babaji is a world away from the other tourist traps in the Shaftesbury Avenue/Chinatown vicinity. Thanks to its stylish décor, traditional menu (everything that’s listed sounds totally delicious) and reasonable pricing (lunch for two [no alcohol] was around £35), I’m eager to get back again soon.
53 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6LB