Six of One: Searching for Tahdig in Little Venice
Kateh, plus five other London restaurant recommendations for this weekend
Welcome back to Vittles Restaurants and to the first instalment of Six of One for 2024. A map with all 97 of the Six of One recommendations published in 2023 can be found, used, and enjoyed here.
A Vittles subscription costs £5/month or £45/year. If you’ve been enjoying the writing then please consider subscribing to keep it running — it will give you access to the whole Vittles back catalogue — including Normal Country, London restaurant guides, recipes, and all new columns.
Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each issue, six writers will share a restaurant, bakery, cafe or takeaway spot that they believe deserves to be better known.
You can find the full Six of One back catalogue below:
Polentina and five other recommendations; Inihaw plus five; Kulcha Express plus five; Triple One Café plus five; Samak Seafood plus five; Lakehouse Hungarian; Restaurant plus five; Salteñas Martin plus five; Best Foods Supermarket plus five; Thenga Cafe plus five; Charcoal Champ plus five; Chai Kadai plus five, Fine Cut Butchers and Steakhouse plus five; Souvlakiland plus five, Bali Satay House plus five, Yasmina plus five, Orchid House plus five, and Dalchini plus five.
Today’s recommendations are from Aryan Anbari, Shwan Ziad, Shekha Vyas, Gavin Cleaver, George Hancock, and William Burcher.
Little Venice is an oddly named place. Sure, there are a couple of canals and some quaint bridges over them, but whoever named it couldn’t have accounted for the majestic concrete hunk that is the A40 flyover being added to this tidy vista. Other than that, there’s very little hustle and bustle here and hardly an abundance of places to eat. Since the 1960s, however, this small corner of West London – and neighbouring Maida Vale – has been home to one of the UK’s first migrant communities from Iran. In that regard, Kateh’s location makes perfect sense.
Kateh is atypical in the context of London’s Iranian restaurants. It is not a pastiche of the kababis found in Iran’s bazaars. It also spotlights the still very underrepresented regional cooking of a country that stretches from Armenia to Pakistan. The inclusion of stews and polows also brings the repertoire of Persian home cooking (arguably its pinnacle) into the fold, breaking the hegemonic grilled-lamb-or-chicken axis that has come to dominate representations of Iranian food in the West. Though it’s gradually been joined by similar spaces, like Choobin in Earl’s Court and Kish in Kilburn, Kateh remains, by some distance, the best Iranian restaurant in London.
So what’s the play here? Start with small dishes: classics like kashke bademjan are done supremely well, with the aubergines charred and garnished with plenty of fried onion, their sweetness offset by tangy kashk (dried whey, rehydrated). Salad dezfouli is a simple mix of cucumbers and pomegranate seeds, dressed in lemon juice and seasoned with angelica, a herbal powder. The latter adds a musky, earthy flavour to the otherwise fresh salad that is completely perplexing and utterly delicious.
The main event takes shape around either stewed or grilled dishes. If it's your first time, the koobideh is a must. This is adana’s Persian cousin without the herbs and spices, made here using delicate, fatty veal that’s double-minced – along with onion and white pepper – and chargrilled. Chewing is rarely necessary. Of the stews, the menu staples are impressive, but the real gems are likely to be found in the specials. Often on rotation is khoresht-e-aloo-esfenaj, a stew of lamb shoulder, dried yellow plums and spinach that is one of the finest examples of fruit-based savoury food found in Northern Iran. Ask politely for tahdig, the crispy byproduct of Persian rice cooking. Kateh’s is near-perfect: half-inch thick, tooth-shatteringly crisp on its outer layer and pleasingly chewy underneath. Pro tip: best eaten with stew poured on top. Aryan Anbari
5 Warwick Place, W9 2PX