AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon - Restaurant Review

By Laura Thornberry - 09:00

"From a Gourmet Chicken takeaway restaurant in 1994 to the Gourmet Express charcoal grill in 2000. Husband and wife team Ali and Amira invite you to their latest food adventure in South Wimbledon." 

Last week, I dined out at the extraordinary AYA Lebanese restaurant in South Wimbledon. I had been to this restaurant before once, but this time I wanted to share my experience, my thoughts and photos. I am yet to do restaurant reviews, but they are definitely something that I would love to start doing more as I am always reading reviews to find places to go and new cuisines to try. For me, Lebanese food is one of the freshest, most flavoursome and most delicious cuisines on the planet and AYA definitely ticks all of those. The restaurant have a BYOB system in place that allows you to bring your own alcohol into the restaurant, so you can bring your favourite drinks that will complement your meal. Otherwise they have a selection of soft drinks and fruit juices available if you prefer.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
My recent trip to AYA was on a Friday night with my Dad and 2 of my brothers. From the minute you walked into the restaurant, you are greeted by such warm and welcoming staff. Small things like this make a restaurant experience 10 times better and really gets the evening off to a good start.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
Within a couple of minutes of being shown to your table and seated, one of the lovely waiters brings over some delicious and fresh warm Lebanese bread, alongside a duo of delicious dips. The dips consist of a delicious garlic sauce and a spicy tomato based sauce. Both of which are so delicious and addictive. We managed to munch our way through numerous servings of these, as the staff regularly top these up for you when they see them empty. Isn't this great?!!

After we had some time to look through the extensive menu, we all decided on a few starter dishes to begin the meal. AYA has a good range of starter dishes ranging from cold starters or warm starters which gives you the chance to sample many difference dishes and flavours. Between us, we opted to choose four starters to get our taste buds tingling.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
 Starter number one was the Soujouk. This is a warm dish of spicy pan fried sausages stuffed with lamb, garlic and chilli, served with some tomatoes and a wedge of fresh lemon. The sausages have such a spicy, warming taste, you can really taste the fresh garlic coming through.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
Starter number two was the Calamari. Pan fried squid with garlic, chilli, peppers, coriander and lemon. The Calamari is hands down one of my favourite starters I've tried from AYA. The squid is cooked to perfection. No rubbery, chewy texture. It simply melts in the mouth. The accompanying flavours really enhance this dish and bring it to life.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
Something new to try on this visit to AYA was the Lamb Sambousek. These are deep fried pastries filled with minced lamb, spices and onion. These were incredible, especially dipped into that delicious garlic sauce! The pastry was so crispy and golden, and the filling was so juicy and soft. It was a match made in heaven. I would definitely have these again!
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
Finally we opted for the Kraidis. Another of my favourites from AYA. These are pan fried prawns with garlic, chilli, pepper, coriander and lemon - the perfect flavour combination. The prawns were so fresh and meaty and juicy. I could eat a whole plate of these pretty easily!

After the starters had been devoured, we were given some more bread and dips to nibble on whilst we waited for the main courses to be brought out. Three of us opted for the AYA Mix Grill and my brother picked out the Kharouf Mehsheh.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
The Kharouf Mehsheh is one of AYA's speciality dishes. You receive a deliciously juicy and soft lamb shank served with carrots and minced lamb rice. The lamb shank is to die for. So tender and juicy, it literally falls off the bone. On a bed of fragrant spiced rice, the flavours just merge effortless together to give you a real taste of Lebanon.

The AYA Mix Grill is not for the faint hearted. You are served up skewers of lamb and chicken shish, minced lamb kebab and slices of lamb and chicken shawarma. It's every meat lovers dream. Cooked to perfection, the meats are so juicy and tender, they just melt in the mouth.
AYA Lebanese, South Wimbledon
We then chose to order some traditional Baklava. A sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and honey. These were absolutely beautiful. So light yet sweet and crunchy. The perfect way to end out meal!

If you're looking for a new Lebanese restaurant to try in London, you need to visit AYA. AYA offers sophisticated dining with a trendy atmosphere, warming hospitality and a delicious, creative menu. There is a great choice of fantastic dishes, each one fresh and tasty. The hardest part will be going through the amazing menu and deciding what to order next! 

Have you tried Lebanese cuisine before?  What are your favourite Lebanese restaurants?

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