Assalamualaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatu. One of the things I love about London is the diversity in the restaurants available whether you want something very specific to a country or perhaps intercontinental. It is also the best place to find your hard to find ingredients. I strongly believe you can find any ingredient on your list regardless of how exotic they may be as long as you know where to go. So you could imagine my excitement when I was told of this amazing Somali restaurant tucked away in the hearts of Shepherds Bush.
The restaurant itself is located at 288 Uxbridge Road just down the road from Shepherds Bush Market and about 10-15 minutes walk from Westfield Shopping centre depending on where you exit from. The road is obviously teeming with several takeaways and restaurants but Idman actually does stand out so there is no missing it. It has also boasts of a separate Cafe which is what is visible from Uxbridge road, the restaurant is just behind the cafe.
My first impression was wow! It was very well decorated and really clean. You could tell that someone had made an effort with the decorations. There was an obvious African theme with the waiters & waitresses all being Somali ( I loved that by the way) and what I presume was Somali music in the background. There was an area that was separated from the rest of the restaurant that can accommodate a group of about 20. The main letdown was that although this area was separated, those sitting in the main area could still see inside. When asked whether a screen could be provided if a group of “hijabis” wanted to come there and be able to take off their hijabs or at least eat without being stared at, I was told no but that lights could be dimmed. Even though I didn’t ask specifically, I didn’t see any signs of prayer areas but this isn’t really important as Shepherd’s Bush mosque is only a stone’s throw away.
It was very good until it got busy ( which is totally understandable). The waitresses were quite professional and really patient. The starter arrived quick enough and the main dish not too long afterwards. The only delay was with the bill and I was actually beginning to think the food may have been free since we kept asking for the bill and were repeatedly ignored. It eventually came with some toothpicks which were gratefully received.
So after coming all this way to check what Somali food tastes like, you can imagine my shock when the menu came and it didn’t look like there was a lot of traditional food on it although everything on the main menu & starter was translated into Somali. For starter, I ordered King Prawn Salad served with hot chilli sauce (Shirimbis salad oo lagudaray basbaas) and although not as spicy as it sounds, it tasted absolutely amazing. Much so that I forgave the fact that I was not eating what I would have considered a Somali dish. For main meal I tried the Steamed tender lamb shoulder with tomato showered in Herb Sauce (Garab ari oo la huuriyey ama Xaniid). This was actually everything it said it was. I actually got a big chunk of the shoulder which was so tender that if it any tenderer, the lamb might actually melt in your mouth. There is a choice between Rice, Pasta or Pancake with every main meal. The portion was truly African – very generous which meant I had no room for desert although they had a very good selection. Smoothie enthusiast should also know that there is a fair selection of smoothies available. I still had space though for my version of real Somali tea (without milk).
The price was very reasonable, customer service good and the food was amazing. Will definitely recommend it so if you’re ever out shopping in Westfield, provided you can find your way out of the shopping mall (it took me a while), then it is worth nipping down to have your lunch or dinner and you may even find a good scarf deal at the market nearby. Just so you know, I checked afterwards and the food was meant to be intercontinental not ‘Somali' so if you know of any “real” Somali restaurant, please let me know.