Brick Lane may be famous across the world for curry, but there’s a Punjabi restaurant around the corner that Londoners smugly pride themselves in knowing as the best. A well-kept secret Tayyabs is not, as the no-booking three-floor restaurant normally has a queue extending out the door. Don’t come here if you expect reverential service or an elegant dining room, what the repeat customers crave here is the incredibly tasty simple food, delivered by an army of waiters that whack plates on tables as quickly as the grill can go. While not in the Michelin Guide, Tayyabs certainly deserves a bib before pricer, below average options like Koya.
Tayyabs is fun meal out and is made all the more attractive by being BYO with no fee. Expect the waiter to deposit a bottle opener on your table so that you can look after yourselves. Also expect to come out of the restaurant smelling like you were sitting in the grill’s chimney, so wear something that can go in the washing machine the minute you get home.
Food wise, the menu isn’t huge, but it doesn’t need to be. While you’re sorting out your drinks, snack on the selection of poppadoms, sauces and salad and order one mixed grill per two people for your starter. This comes with tender, juicy lamb chops, zingy chicken from the tandoor oven and we’d wager the best seekh kebab that you have ever tasted in your life; with fragrant coriander, succulent meat and a gentle spicing.
Onto the curries where the karahi is king, referring to the traditional wok-style pan Punjabis use to cook. If you love your lamb, minced karahi gosht is for you, cooked with dry coriander and cumin, which enhance the flavour of the meat. The shredded chicken karahi is more gutsy, with a tomato base, ginger, garlic and fresh coriander. Both curries need naan to soak-up their rich sauces – almond filled peshwari if you want a sweet addition and their pretty stonking garlic naan with serious flavour goes with practically anything. A baby aubergine channa, made with deep, buttery chickpeas is an outstanding accompaniment.
Spicy dish-phobes have nothing to worry about either. Rather than the typical range of mild through to knock-your-head-off, Tayyabs spicing is delicate and certainly not hot. The selection of homemade lassis are always on hand as are the frozen versions on a stick for dessert if required.