Despite the existence of other good Pakistani/Indian-Muslim dining options in Whitechapel, e.g. Maeda Grill, Lahore Kebab House, etc. - attention invariably turned to rival Pakistani duo: the older, more established Tayyabs, and its younger clone, Needoo Grill - rated by many as a serious contender and viable alternative to Tayyabs.
Anyhoo, I'd never had Pakistani in London before (my only acquaintance with the cuisine was over 10 years ago when I visited Karachi and Islamabad on business).
First stop this evening: Tayyabs (Est. 1972). Service was ultra-efficient, even if the waiters looked indifferent & unsmiling. What I tried:
- Mutton samosa: crisp-fried and quite tasty, though I’d tried much better-tasting ones elsewhere.
- Vegetable samosa: very tasty – the mashed curried potato & onion filling providing a pleasant textural contrast to the crisp shell of the samosa. Again, not exactly the best-tasting samosas I’d had.
- The day's special: Nihari, a slow-cooked spicy leg of lamb stew, with matchstick-sized strips of ginger and lots of golden-brown shallots to give the gravy a killer punch. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. The gravy went deliciously with my bread order:
- Peshwari naan. I’m not sure here – but aren’t Peshwari naans supposed to contain nuts & dried fruits? The one served here was sweetish in flavour but did *not* contain anything inside the ‘roti’.
- Sweet lassi was very well-made.
Second stop: Needoo Grill, only 3-years-old this year. It’s a rip-off of Tayyabs but, hey, if the concept ain’t broke, why fix it? It’s brighter, more cheerful, and the waiters were warm & friendly. Food-wise, what I had:
- Mutton samosa: it’s *microwaved*!! The samosa’s pastry skin was actually soggy, whilst the minced mutton filling was dry, so much so that the minced meat & pea filling simply scattered out once you cut the samosa open. Am shocked by such lackadaisical approach to cooking!
- Vegetable samosa: same treatment given here: microwaved. Worst, the pastry shell was greasy and soggy, with hard edges.
- Main course: Karahi lamb chops masala, which were 3 small chops cooked in spicy masala gravy. The lamb chops were tough and not that meaty. But the masala gravy was spicy and delicious.
- Peshwari naan – exactly the same as the one at Tayyabs, i.e. no fruit-and-nut filling. But the one here - pillowy-soft, sweetly delicious & with just the right amount of ghee on top - tasted better than Tayyabs'.
- Mango lassi here was simply superb. Pity about the food.
How do the two places compare? In my opinion, no contest really – Tayyabs by a mile!
83-89 Fieldgate Street
London E1 1JU
Tel: 020 7247 6400
87 New Road
London E1 1HH
Tel: 020 7247 0648