Tayyabs – the best curry in London?

Sizzling Mixed Meat Starter from TayyabsI was first introduced to Tayyabs by a Bengali friend and it seemed to me, that if a curry house was so enthusiastically recommended by someone of Bengali origin, it had to be great. Last night me and some colleagues went for what is becoming a regular curry night in Whitechapel, which was last night followed by some highly amusing Karaoke at a local bar.

In the Whitechapel area there are tens of curry houses, probably 50 or more, but walking down Brick Lane (the traditional curry power-house of London) you’ll not find another curry house with a queue of 50 people around the restaurant and down the road to get a seat…

First the food – no mucking about – it’s a great curry and the menu leaves little room for faffing about – no endless lists of different curries and strengths and specials and ten thousand different sundries. You get a simple menu that you can’t go wrong with and the waiters are happy and willing to help you get the right amount of food for the group. That brings us to the second great thing, the service, which is first rate. The waiters are unobtrusive, helpful, don’t push to up-sell, are fast and efficient and above all, you’re rarely stuck for a waiter because there are at least ten or more running around sorting things out.

The third great thing about Tayyabs is two things that all restaurateurs should seek: personality and atmosphere. The place has a wonderful atmosphere – is so busy and yet this doesn’t exactly make you feel rushed and uncomfortable. At the same time the place is complemented by great smells and an overall noise of chatter that gives it a very metropolitan feel; I wouldn’t say you feel like you’re in another country (that would be a terrible cliché), but you do feel like you’re welcome inside this East-London subculture. Because the restaurant doesn’t have an alcohol license, bringing your own beers gives the whole experience a kind of fun, rudimentary feel like you’re on a group outing. Its personality is provided through the consistently great experience you receive and this is borne out by the amazing reviews the place has received from Bob Granleese at The Guardian, Jay Rayner at The Observer and many others, while numerous reviewers in TimeOut champion the place. As you’re waiting in the queue (if you haven’t booked ahead), you can spend time reading the numerous reviews from the Evening Standard and TimeOut on the walls; they’re almost reassuring if you’ve been waiting a while on your first visit!

Lastly, Tayyabs is fantastic value for money. You can get a great meal for less than £15 a head and be absolutely stuffed afterward. For the quality and experience, it’s nothing and because the price hasn’t inflated (as it would if it were some newly-popular eaterie in the West End) it only makes me more willing to champion the place.

Just one other thing to add: make absolutely sure you try the sizzling mixed meat starter; its genuinely top notch.

Happy eating!

New Tayyab on Urbanspoon

Picture courtesy of ‘Ono Kine Grindz


8 thoughts on “Tayyabs – the best curry in London?

  1. Hi Lizzie – I keep getting told about the dry meat – I will definitly give it a go this time. Apparently the fish masala is a winner to 🙂

    By the way – great blog, I’ve been reading it for a while but have only just got around to linking you!

  2. I keep hearing this curry house listed as the best my quite a few people. I shall now go and sample what they have to offer.

    Cheers for jogging my memory…

  3. We went last Saturday and, despite having a booking, half an hour later we still had no table. The staff never apoplogised for the wait; in fact they blantly ignored us. It was a ‘my restaurant is full anyway, why bother with you?’ kind of attitude. People without bookings were actually given a table while we were waiting! The manager was just trying to get an impossible number of people to eat on a single night. He never turned anyone away saying they were fully booked although they clearly were! I’ve never been treated in such a rude way in a restaurant before. Of course, we left without eating and are never planning to return.

    • Hi Nio – I can definitely empathise with this, the staff are often short with you, mostly because they’re very busy; it’s not somewhere I associate with good service (apart from their willingness to help you order the right amount and not let you over-order).

      I’ve been to places recommended by others before too and wondered what all the fuss was about. With all things, the overall result is a mixed bag – you might not tick all the boxes of taste, service, atmosphere and so on, but you’ll usually excuse a dip in one of the areas.

      With Tayyabs, you need to get past the infuriating and growing problem of actually being able to get into the place. Once you’re there, the food is great and the loud and busy environment becomes quite charming.

      I might be oversimplifying but invariably most dining (and other shopping) experiences are about time and place and the combination of how you’re feeling and how you feel you’re being served. Sometimes you’ll put up with some deficiencies and other times you won’t have to!

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