83-89 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1JU
020 7247 6400
As a birthday treat to moi I dragged Josh around the East End last Sunday – where we sloped down Columbia Road, a riot of colours and activity as the flower market was in full swing, snooped around Spitalfields market looking at Royal wedding tat, had a nose around Whitechapel Gallery, before drinking rum in a pub which played Michael Jackson exclusively – it was sunny, and we had had an amazing Portuguese brunch. Josh had bought me a sodastream for my birthday. I had selected some gorgeous flowers. Things could not be topped, right? Wrong. We were yet to step into Tayyabs.
I had heard much about the place. About the prices (super cheap), the queues (humongous), the lamb chops (to die for). I had been to Needoos Grill and gobbled up the mouthwatering Punjabi kebabs and told that if I liked it then I *had* to go to Tayyabs. We strolled along at around half three and walked in, without a queue, and were seated straight away. Time Out and Qype reviews talk of lines that stretch down the road and take an hour of patience, so if you go one Friday or Saturday evening I suggest you wear comfortable shoes.
The dining hall was simple, large and chaotic. Nearly every table was full and mostly with Asian families. The din was lovely – laugher, gossip and coughing fits that erupted every time a spicy plate of food was bought out into the restaurant- the air inside smoky and heavy with chilli.
We were still full of chorizo from brunch but ordered lamb chops, chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, keema nan and enough popadoms to get our bellies rumbling. I ordered a mango lassi and goodness me, it was incredible. Thick, sweet and smooth. I never wanted it to end.
Service was snappy and the food was bought, sizzling and spluttering, to the table minutes after it was ordered. The lamb chops were everything I had heard they would be. Tender, smoky and popping with flavour. We gnawed at the bones as if we were in the middle of a medieval banquet. Sighing and catching our breath now and then. The chicken was hot and I doused mine with mint yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice as the soft meat fell apart with each bite. Then came the nan. Easily the best nan I have ever eaten – soft and chewy with the most fragrant, rich lamb mince sealed inside. Slurping away on my lassi, as I felt my jeans tighten around my expanding waist, I realised that I was experiencing a perfect London meal – frantic but friendly, rustic and real. Josh grinned over his sizzling meat fest and between greedy bites affirmed that this was good, good eating.
After we could eat no more, the plates vanished in seconds. Annoyingly we had no room left for a dessert and I pledged to squeeze in a curry next time. When the bill came to £20 for two, this just sweetened the deal. The waiters were all efficient and friendly, the atmosphere so warm and happy. I wish only that it hadn’t taken so long to go and cannot wait to return.