Posted By Stephen


On a Thursday night a few weeks ago now, Kerri and I had a wonderful dinner at Tayyab’s with a lot of other London food bloggers.  Tayyab’s, which is situated on a random side street in Whitechapel in London’s East End, has become legendary for its excellent yet ridiculously cheap Pakistani food.  I have been lucky enough to eat there a number of times either with a few friends or with various interesting groups of people over the past several years.  It has been re-invented a few times along the way:  Initially, there was Tayyab’s, which was only open during the day, then New Tayyab opened next door as an evening restaurant.  Now these two have been joined together to create a bigger restaurant, which is good news for everyone as more people can squeeze in to enjoy the delights of Tayyab’s, although there is still usually a sizeable queue!

The restaurant does not sell alcoholic drinks but you can bring your own along, which makes these sorts of evenings particularly entertaining as well as particularly challenging for anyone determined to bring wine rather than beer to go with the food.  The first time I ate at Tayyab’s a number of years ago was also the first time that I remember drinking Alsace wine.  Someone had recommended it as a good accompaniment to spicy food (they were completely correct!) and so I had bought a bottle each of Riesling and Gewurztramminer without knowing a lot about either.  Into the fridge at work they went to keep them cold, then of course there was an hour on the tube to get there and then an hour of standing outside the pub chatting before dinner.  Suffice to say, by the time we got to the restaurant neither bottle was the least bit chilled.  I still really enjoyed them both though and it’s a memory that has always stuck with me, which is surprising given that I suspect I drank most of both bottles myself.

Anyway, back to the present.  We met up at The Good Samaritan pub, which is just a few minutes walk from the restaurant.  This seems to be a ritual.  On arriving at Tayyab’s, we were ushered into the VIP room, past the rather long queue of hungry-looking people.  The VIP room used to be at the side of the New restaurant, but now that they have been joined together, it is situated in the middle of the larger, joined-together restaurant.  There are several large tables in the VIP room and we had two of them for our group:  one round table and one larger, long one.  I was in the middle of one side of the long one, which made it convenient for shouting at people and asking them what they wanted to eat and then passing on the orders to the waiter.


We had brought along an Alsace riesling for old time’s sake, as well as an experiment – a Californian zinfandel in the hope that the spicy, not-too-tannic fruitiness would go well with the food, particularly the legendary lamb chops.  The riesling did go well with chicken and fish dishes, and the zinfandel did go with lamb in various forms, but the bottle that I’d brought was more tannic that I’d planned.  Dan, who was sitting next to me (and knows a lot about wine…) also had a bottle of Zinfandel, but his was less tannic which worked better.

The restaurant had been very kind and put on three delicious roast marinated lamb legs for a main course, so we set about ordering starters.  Of course, we ordered a fair few of the legendary lamb chops, along with various other grilled starters – seekh kebabs, tandoori chicken, masala fish and probably one or two others that I’ve forgotten.  I enjoyed the lamb chops, but they had a heavy dose of chilli that I felt drowned out the other flavours.  Everything was really good; generously spiced with great depth of flavour and succulent too – nothing I ate was overcooked.


Then we tucked into the lamb legs, which had been marinated overnight and roasted for three hours (if my memory serves me correctly) and served on top of a bed of delicous rice, the texture of which reminded me of a baked “Hyderabadi” biryani that I’d cooked once and haven’t encountered much since.


We probably didn’t need to order any more based on the amount of food that we already had, but of course we had to in order to taste things.  So we ordered some “dry meat” curry, which doesn’t sound that appetising from its name but it is really lovely – marined pieces of lamb cooked in a coriander-heavy spice mix.  It isn’t actually dry in the exact sense of the word, but it is just drier than other curries.


We also ordered various other side dishes, amongst them bhindi (okra) and some sublime tinda masala (baby pumpkins).

A deliciously fun evening all round, which ended with us going back to the Good Samaritan and things got a little fuzzy from then on.  So thanks to everyone who came along for making it such an excellent event and thanks to Helen for organising.

Typing this has made me hungry even though we had our dinner an hour or so ago!

Apr 5th, 2009

6 Comments to 'Tayyab’s'

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  1. Mrs Ergül said,

    Look at all that food! It sure looks very very appetizing!

    Mrs Ergül’s last blog post..Homemade Turkish-Style Yogurt

  2. Kerri said,

    I don’t think the pictures really do the food justice, it was really good and it all looks a bit dark sadly.

  3. Helen said,

    And thanks to you and kerri for coming along! It was a great night, I’m really pleased you both had a good time. I must say, my tinda masala was a bit like warm that night but at those prices, who cares! That lamb, mmmm, thinking about it is making me hungry again.

    Helen’s last blog post..One-O-One

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