Interview: Mangal 2's Twitter guy
By Laura Martin
Mangal 2 is not only one of Dalston's favourite eating spots, but is also home to one of Hackney's funniest and most prolific tweeters. The @Mangal2 account is manned by...well, we don't want to unmask him, but with more than 13,000 followers, you know he's doing something right, along with all their tasty Turkish fare. From taking the piss out of the resident hipsters and snarking at Mangal 2's rivals, to general life observations, clicking "follow" will bring all sorts of LOLs to anyone's timeline. So while the restaurant got stuck into grilling the meal, we grilled the dude behind the avatar to see if he's all just chat.
You must be chuffed to be one of the favourite Hackney Twitterers. I mean, you're second only to The Dolphin Pub. There always seems to be some beef between you guys, so what's the deal? Are you friends? Frenemies? Lovers? Fighters?
I've met the gentleman who runs The Dolphin Pub Twitter account and he's actually a lovely man. I'm pretty sure there's a mutual respect. I do enjoy the odd argument with The Dolphin on Twitter, as it's always intellectually challenging and fun to engage with. Plus, unfortunately, I've been to The Dolphin Pub many a night, but I'm still waiting for The Dolphin to come to Mangal 2 for a complimentary meal.
The restaurant is a real favourite with Hackneyites. Why do you think it's become such a legendary restaurant?
Well, three words could some that up: Gilbert and George. They are a major force behind our loyal customer base. Who needs to market a restaurant when you have two of the loveliest, most respected British artists dining in your establishment every evening? We are eternally grateful to these two men, but of course they don't just dine here out of courtesy (though, probably mostly out of habit and consistently good food.
Yeah, how long have Gilbert and George been eating at the restaurant for now? Do they eat the same meal every night? What do they have?
17 solid years, and yes, they'll consecutively have the same dish for three months and then change to something else. I can't reveal exactly what they eat every evening, I'd feel a bit weird revealing every detail of their evening meal.
What's the most popular dish? How many do you get through on a busy day?
Chicken shish and the Ali Nazik Kebab. The former is exactly what it says on the tin. The latter is minced lamb on a bedding of smoked aubergine and yogurt, topped with a tomato-based sauce and butter. On a busy weekend evening we could possibly sell 40 portions of this each.
You've been around for almost 20 years now. What's the one lesson you've learnt that's helped you succeed?
Always work on the small details, the small imperfections, as you consistently need to be on the front foot to survive.
You seem to be on a crusade against two things: hipsters and Nando's. Have you ever had to kick someone out for being too edgy?
No, it's all a gimmick. Deep down I don't judge any customer (unless they're incredibly rude). It's all tongue-in-cheek nonsense. But someone did once walk in in a pelican outfit.
What's been your proudest moment at Mangal 2?
My father (previous owner and founder of Mangal 1, and current owner of Mangal 2) winning Best Chef of the Year at The British Kebab Awards seemed like a cathartic moment after decades in this industry.
Dalston's seen a lot of changes over the past 10 years. If you look into your crystal ball, where do you see it going next? What do you predict will be the next big trend?
I can't predict anything. I didn't see the hipster/gentrification coming, and I sure as hell don't have a clue what the future holds for my beloved Dalston.
Can we talk rivalry with Mangal 1? What happened between you two?
There's no rivalry. My father created Mangal 1, and now he no longer owns it. That's all there is to it. We wish them the very best.
Why should we all eat in Mangal 2 instead of Mangal 1?
Generally, the impression and feedback we receive is that our service is friendlier.
Can you think of any other sequels that are better than the original?
Jackass 2, and then Jackass 3, and finally Jackass 3D.
Where do you eat when you're not tweeting?
If it were your last day on earth, what would be your last ever meal?
Easy: Mangal 2's Mixed Kebab with a side of chilli and garlic sauce, a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon, and a shot of heroin for dessert.
Tasty, if not slightly more-ish...