A well-established restaurant in Whitechapel off the beaten path of the high street, Tayyabs is a delicious Punjabi joint where the Tandoori lamb chops are hot and spicy, the waiters weird and the service fast and frenzied.
The first time I went to Tayyabs was in 2008 when I was just a wee little one studying abroad in London. The food wasn’t entirely memorable so I decided to go back now in 2013 and see if it was all still happenin’ at Tayyabs and the queues still out the door. Well, the queue wasn’t out the door but there were certainly plenty of people dining. I have read some people’s reviews that despite a reservation, they had to wait a significant amount of time before being seated. This was not the case in this instance – it was a Thursday night at 7pm, which is prime dinner time, so they did have their act together.
We were seated downstairs which was very poorly lit and all I can think to describe it is Sofa King Cool bar in Soho meets Chinese restaurant. I half expected to see some mammoth koi fish swimming around me while I was eating my Peshwari naan. Nevertheless, the restaurant was very lively so all was not lost on the lackluster decorations and weird printed signs everywhere saying ‘debit card machine not working!!!’
Important to note, this place is BYOB so definitely show up with your own booze. This actually drives down the cost on your bill significantly so it is a welcome aspect of the restaurant if you’re broke like a joke like me.
We started with two orders of the Tandoori lamb chops. Tayyabs is justly famous for its grilled lamb chops – they are fiery, smoky, bursting with flavor, and once again (to re-iterate what I said in my Rib Man post) they fulfill every carnivore’s fantasy – tearing delicious hunks of meat off a bone in a fiendish fashion.
For mains, we ordered chicken tikka masala (couldn’t help myself), basmati rice, garlic and plain naan, and karahi tarka dhal
The chicken tikka masala here is interesting because it doesn’t come with a ton of sauce which irritates me a bit (what am I supposed to dunk the naan in?!) and it contains large chunks of tomato which contrasts many curry houses blended, smooth sauce. That being said, the sauce is extremely tasty – I just wish there had been more of it. Rice and naan were amazing – both perfect levels of fluffiness.
The waitstaff is quite strange – cracking jokes that are not really funny and telling us they don’t serve tap water normally but they will make an exception if we promise not to tell the other tables.
They will rush you out of the restaurant quite quickly; they have no shame in coming over and picking up the bill multiple times to see if you’ve paid yet. They are quite keen to get people fed and then up and out the door. As I was with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, we were lingering and our waiter actually asked us to leave as another group was waiting for our table. Luckily we were in a pretty laidback mood and didn’t mind the abruptness of the request but it is definitely not the sort of restaurant you should frequent if like long lazy meals.
All in all, this restaurant did a very good job of gratifying my carnivorous tendencies and has all the classics on the menu but it’s not anything worth queuing out the door for if you don’t have a reservation.
83-89 Fieldgate St London E1 1JU