|The cook sits by the charcoal pit at Mangal 1, a Turkish barbecue restaurant in London. (Joe Ray for The Boston Globe)|
LONDON — The scent of grilled meat floods the bus when the doors open. The Hackney district’s Stoke Newington Road is filled with Turkish barbecue restaurants that in-the-know Londoners flock to almost as much as to their beloved curry restaurants.
Inside the door of the Mangal I, a man seated before a charcoal pit has somewhere near two dozen skewers of lamb, chicken, quail, and vegetables going at once, his calm face appearing and disappearing behind a wall of smoke. The man at the grill seems to prepare every bite guests at the large restaurant will consume (there must be a prep cook in a kitchen somewhere), even chopping salad vegetables to order in that same peculiar seated position.
Everything — from a pepper and eggplant spread called patlican salata on homemade flatbread to our kebab and chops — is rendered hot and intoxicating by a deep-reaching smoke. While some food prices in London can be tough to stomach, that’s not as big a worry here. Dishes top out at about $13. The restaurant is BYO. 10 Arcola St., 011-44-020-7275-8981, www.mangal1.com JOE RAY