Opening date announced for Berenjak

On 23 October, Berenjak, reinterpreting the classic hole-in-the-wall kabab houses lining the streets of Tehran, will open its doors on Soho’s Romilly Street.

Berenjak, named for the handfuls of crunchy toasted rice eaten as a snack at funfairs in Iran, will take inspiration from founder and chef Kian Samyani’s childhood spent gathering around the dining table with his Iranian family, as well as his experience cooking in the kitchens of Gymkhana and Brigadiers.

Samyani (pictured) will be supported by Karam, Jyo and Sunaina Sethi (JKS Restaurants) - the family behind some of London’s top restaurants including Trishna, bubbledogs, Kitchen Table, Bao, Xu, Gymkhana, Hoppers, Lyle’s, Sabor and Brigadiers.

Samyani will draw on his heritage to evoke the style of a rustic Persian kabab house, reinterpreting signature dishes using seasonal British produce. Guests ducking through a reimagined, typical Iranian shopfront will be greeted by an open kitchen, giving a full view of the chefs manning the flaming tanoor, mangal barbecue, and vertical rotisserie - all the traditional tools of the Irani chef.

Whether perched around the kitchen counter or breaking bread at one of the communal tables, guests can kick off with mazeh, an assortment of punchy small plates including Kashk E Bademjoon, blackened aubergine with whey, walnuts and dried mint, and a daily-changing Kuku, a fragrant omelette of seasonal herbs and Cacklebean eggs, served with whipped Westcombe ricotta.

To follow, diners can take their pick from traditional kababs on freshly baked breads hot from the tanoor, inspired by Tehrani street vendors. Each kabab is threaded onto a skewer before being thrown on the glowing embers of the charcoal mangal to grill: these include Jujeh, a whole poussin marinated in saffron, lemon and tomato, and a Cabrito kid goat Koobideh, a tender minced meat dish that’s a staple at every kabab house. During game season, guests can expect to see sour partridge and pheasant make an appearance on the grill.

Small bowls of traditional khoresht, a Persian-style stew, include Khoresht E Zereshk, whole quail with aromatic barberries, saffron and lemon, and Ghormeh Sabzi, slow-cooked lamb shank with fenugreek, dried lime and kidney beans.

Side dishes will include Bughali Gahtogh, fried eggs with broad beans, garlic and dill to mix with rice or wrap up inside a kabab; Khiar Ba Daraar, baby cucumbers with fermented mint; and Torshi, made to a family recipe of brined and pickled vegetables.

At the bar, traditional sharbats will be given an elegant makeover with house araks and sabzi. These lightly sparkling, yoghurt-based drinks, popular in Iran, can be spiked with distilled fruit nectars, charged with homemade sodas, and livened up with fresh herbs: the Doogh is a pour of curdled yoghurt and gin, flavoured with lemon, sumac and honey.

Samyani said, “Like many Iranian families in London, most of my childhood memories were made around the dinner table, where household dishes become life-long favourites - every Iranian will tell you that their mum’s cooking is the best!

“Spices, dips, pickles and handfuls of herbs are the flavours of my childhood, so it’s great to be reinterpreting them in Soho. For me, it wouldn’t be an Iranian dinner without sitting elbow-to-elbow with friends and family, sharing each dish until every scrap has gone - I’m looking forward to recreating that at Berenjak.”