I noticed this place years ago when taking the rail replacement from Stratford to East Ham. It had the look of a Pakistani Thattukada with crowds of men drinking tea, but the menu was so stereotypical of other Pakistani places in East London that I always passed it up. I finally went here a couple of weeks ago and I only just finished eating my third dinner there.
This place is hands down the best "standard" Pakistani restaurant in London. Or at least it's much better than any I've been to. It puts Needoo and Tayyabs to shame and it outclasses six or more similar restaurants within the area. As noted, the menu is pretty standard. Nihari, haleem, dal fry, and so forth. The difference is that every version of each dish I've had here is the best I've ever had.
So far I've tried their aloo keema, dal fry (maasht dal I believe), chana dal, haleem, and nihari. I've been meaning to try their lamb karahi as it looks incredible, but I definitely need some help in tackling it. The larger portions of karahi are served in the cooking pot as they don't have any dishes that are large enough. They come out of the kitchen like steaming cauldrons of succulent on the bone lamb, but it would literally be impossible to finish one of them alone (think Man vs Food goes to Pakistan.)
Out of the above dishes I'd have to say that the haleem is by far the best. The best haleem I've ever had after years of trying to find good haleem (it was the first South Asian dish I ever had that I loved.) Rich, deeply flavored and studded with massive chunks of green chilies. Excellent.
Out of the two veg, the dal fry is definitely superior to the chana. I'm going to try to branch out of the dals to use the standard "put their veg to the test" method of judging South Asian places, but the meat keeps tempting me. The dal fry wasn't as buttery as versions I've had (Lahore Lahore Eh in East Ham) but it's stronger tasting with a deep red broth of oil.
Every dish I've had so far (including the dal) has been far spicier than similar dishes at Needoo, but the spicing is also more varied and complex. This restaurant specializes almost entirely in slow cooked dishes which is probably what allows them to send so many of their woks out as plates. I haven't seen the inside of the kitchen, but practically the whole menu is slow cooked deliciousness so I suspect they're keeping enormous pots of each and then heating it up in the "serving" pans (even though they're enormous Indian pots)
Not to keep harping on about the glory of this place, but the bread is also unparalleled in the area. They do a special naan which looks almost Pashtun. It's somewhat thicker than the standard naan here (which is crispy, air and seems to be done on a stove top rather than in a tandoori oven) but it has more bite and it's covered in patterns on the top. It's similar to the rogni naan at Lahore Lahore Eh, but thinner.
All in all this place is great. Absolutely no alcohol, but I would definitely say this place is worth the trip to Upton Park.
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