Hanam’s – friendly Kurdish in the heart of the city

We’re continuing our tour of middle-eastern restaurants. This time: Hanam’s. It was the first restaurant in the local empire that includes Souk, Leila’s and Pomegranate. Somehow I’ve managed to miss Hanam’s Johnston Terrace entrance but I have seen, and been intrigued by, the one on Victoria Terrace. That’s Hanam’s shisha terrace where people relax with a pipe and a snack of an evening, looking down at busy life as it passes by on Victoria Street.

Look at that naan! And the borek! We know how to start off a meal.

Look at that naan! And the borek! We know how to start off a meal.

Studying the menu

I always read the menu before I go somewhere, unless I just drop in. So this time I knew I was interested in several meze dishes as well as some of the mains. I enjoy having lots of different things so it’s always difficult for me to turn away from the meze menu. I was intrigued by the lamb shwarma on hummus, the borek, the whipped feta with dates, fattoush, the tomato and olive tapenade, the plain hummus… The list goes on. In the end, we decided to share two meze plates for starters and have mains.

My new favourite dip: muhammara. Nutty, fruity loveliness.

My new favourite dip: muhammara. Nutty, fruity loveliness.

The muhammara, a dip made with walnuts, breadcrumbs, pepper and date sauce, was served with Hanam’s thin and bubbly naan. It’s a must-try. I think Hanam’s is the only place in Edinburgh that makes it and it was really good: crunchy, rich, tart all at the same time. We also had borek – warm, crispy, delicious cheese and filo rolls. (Note to self: cheese is filling!)

Digging in to kebabs and wraps

For mains I had the Moroccan meatballs and whipped feta wrap. It wasn’t my original plan but it just sounded so good (and is recommended on the menu). I was tempted by shwarma and the tashreeb, a vegetable stew served over naan. I can just imagine the soft, flaky bread soaking up the vegetable juices. It sounded lush and I want to try it at some point. The gormi sabze – lamb, beans and veg – also spoke to me. In the end, the wrap won. I loved the combination of smokey lamb meatballs with tart, melty feta. It was very tasty and very filling.

Moroccan meatballs and whipped feta wrap. I'm getting hungry just looking at this.

Moroccan meatballs and whipped feta wrap. I’m getting hungry just looking at this.

Christopher, meanwhile, had the vegetarian kebab, Iranian style with rice, naan and vegetable sauce of your choice (his was okra). The vegetable sauce is great, a sort of gravy for the rice and vegetables. The Kurdish style of serving kebabs might be more familiar, that’s served with naan, salad and chilli and garlic dips. For meat eaters, the kebabs offer a number of yummy lamb and chicken options. The menu also has other meat and fish dishes.

Vegetarian kebab Iranian style. There would usually be aubergine in that mix too but Christopher can't eat them so he had extra everything else.

Vegetarian kebab Iranian style. There would usually be aubergine in that mix too but Christopher can’t eat them so he had extra everything else.

Almost too full to stand up

Servings are healthy so come dessert time we were both very full. Out of the greed I call the kindness of my heart I had baklava and chai tea. Christopher, more realistic about his capacity, stuck to arabic coffee. The baklava was buttery and crunchy and came served with the most delicate rose ice cream. It was beautiful: creamy, sweet but not too sweet and with a hint of rose soft enough to mend a broken heart. (It was a lyrical flavour.) The saffron ice cream sounded lush too and the baklava cheese cake can only be fab. Save space for pudding.

Baklava and rose ice cream. Gorgeous, gorgeous rose ice cream!

Baklava and rose ice cream. Gorgeous, gorgeous rose ice cream!

Hanam’s is a busy restaurant. We were in on a Thursday and the upstairs restaurant was full. There were two long tables of parties (we decided they were both work outings and had fun guessing who the organiser was, who the most recent recruit was, what the event was…) and the walk-in tables at the front saw brisk business. We were well looked after and service at our table – and the long ones – was prompt and very friendly. We had a great chat with the manager about what’s happening in the Edinburgh restaurant industry. There might be another post in that conversation. Watch this space!

Hanam’s is obviously a well-established and popular restaurant for parties. It’s easy to see why: it has a great menu that allows everyone to mix and match and eat what they want, it’s BYOB, it’s cozy, and informal with friendly service. We’ll be coming back for food and shisha as the summer nights grow warmer.

Hanam’s

3 Johnston Terrace
Edinburgh EH1 2PW

Telephone: 0131 225 1329

Twitter: @hanams | Facebook: hanamsEdin

Caroline dined at the invitation of Hanam’s and Citylicious.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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