Mazi [Croydon, London]

I think I may have mentioned this on Chowhound at some point, but it’s worth mentioning here too. Mazi is a small, unassuming Turkish restaurant just coming up to its 15th year on London Road in Croydon. This is just around the corner from my house, so I may be biased, but I would happily travel a fair distance for its lamb shish.

A hot counter at the front dispenses stews such as chicken meatballs with butter beans, or lamb with potatoes and aubergine, along with rice and couscous. Further back is a proper charcoal grill. The decor is basic but not scruffy (and there’s an amazing trompe l’oeil of a waterfall in the back seating area).

My usual order is yogurtlu shish, with perfectly-judged cubes of lamb and pieces of fluffy Turkish bread all soaked in a savoury, tomatoey, yoghurty sauce (photo). The stews hit the spot too, when I don’t have time to cook, though I’m not sure they’re worth travelling for.

The other night, though, I took three friends there to try out their “special grill” for four people. This gets you lamb shish, chicken shish, lamb chops, lamb ribs, lamb kofte, lamb doner, chicken doner, and chicken wings, served over two mounds of rice and couscous (photo). The lamb chops were great, with the crispy fat I always look for. The chicken wings were very good, with meat slipping gently off the bone but not at all overcooked. The kofte had a great texture, studded with plenty of chopped chillies for a good flavour too. (The ribs and doner meat were merely OK, and the lamb shish wasn’t as good as usual for some reason; possibly due to the constraint of getting all the different meats ready at the same time.)

Oh! And I nearly forgot to mention their house-made chilli sauce (photo). I have no idea how they do it, but it includes fresh chillies, carrots, possibly celery, and maybe tomato puree, and I’ve never had anything like it elsewhere.

I’d love to hear what others think of this place — nobody else seems to have written about it anywhere (aside from the rather light-on-content comments on TripAdvisor).