Currently TripAdvisor’s number two recommendation for places to eat in London, as highlighted by the Evening Standard, Gokyuzu restaurant in Harringay is now building a reputation to match its popularity. Ramis Cizer popped down to taste the food and interview one of the owners.
Formed in 1999 by Hassan Yavuz, Gokyuzu now takes its place in Harringay as one of the more prominent eateries on the high street. The two shop-front Turkish Ocakbasi restaurant is full to the rafters on weekends and for good reasons. Excellently priced often-healthy meat dishes are offered fresh off the grill served with delicious sides.
Prior to his arrival from the Maras area of central Turkey, Hassan worked as a farmer. Upon arriving in the UK in 1992, he started plying his trade in the textiles industry before moving into the restaurant business.
The success of Gokyuzu was far from guaranteed, explains Veysel Yavuz, son of Hassan and now responsible for the day-to-day running of the restaurant. According to Veysel, his father burrowed a lot of money as start-up capital – a big risk, especially in a foreign country and trade. All the family put plenty of work in during the restaurant’s fledgling years.
Soon however, the then single shop-front’s main issue was keeping up with demand. There would often be queues which stretched outside. Wanting to please all their clients, Veysel suggested to his father that they purchase the next-door shop which was lying dormant at the time. After some persuasion Hassan agreed and this, for Veysel, was the turning point in the business. Renovations were complete in 2010. The menu stayed the same but new presentation and standards of service ensued.
The décor also changed slightly to give a more traditional feel made up of wood and open brick. The ambiance formed by the clatter of dishes, cutlery and idle chat fills the space perfectly. In his interview for this magazine, Veysel looked proudly across his full restaurant and said: “The new dishes, presentation of food, and décor; this too was my idea.” He smiles conscious that he’s built suitably on his father’s early years of graft with some hospitality foresight.
Veysel likes Harringay and the UK in general. He can’t say that he really misses Turkey much because London provides the right atmosphere for life and business. Indicative of this, he welcomes news of the improvements announced by the GLA to shop fronts, pavements and roads. He believes the face-lift to be in keeping with the Gokyuzu concept of traditional authenticity.
He’s also noted a trendy, professional in the area. Something he believes will continue, he said: “Everyone knows Harringay for its Turkish cuisine and people come from all over. I’ve noticed an increase in what you might call “middle-class clientele”, there’s a nice atmosphere about Harringay – good quality people visit and live here.”