The third of my four posts for Modest Meals: London is now live on Lauren Olivia and Co.’s Passport blog! For those who enjoy ethnic food, you can’t miss Tayyabs!
Posts Tagged ‘Indian’
This is the first of my eating entries from London, where I spent 1o days in May as the tour guide/co-teacher/all-around problem-solver on a study tour with another colleague and 12 of my students. During the day, we visited all the requisite sites such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and The British Museum. But at night, we had a few hours of free time, which I promptly planned within an inch of their lives with – what else – food. Fortunately for me, my students were as receptive to good eats as I’d hoped, and I always had some adventurous eating buddies for all of my desired destinations, including Tayyabs, a Pakistani favorite in Whitechapel.
The place is known for their Punjabi Pakistani cuisine, an area in eastern Pakistan that borders with northern India. Admittedly, my knowledge of the food culture there is limited, though I have heard the food is especially tailored to replace calories lost by the agriculturally-working local people. Good thing we did plenty of walking on our trip!
We made a booking for 6:30 but actually showed up around 6:15. The place was relatively empty at the time, and we were promptly seated; we took to scouring the menu. They asked if we would like poppadums, which I thought was a strange question (the answer is obviously “Yes!”), until I looked at the menu and realized they charge 60p per poppadum. Not outrageous, but a bit of a “hidden charge.” Anyways, they were delicious, as were the yogurt sauce, red chili, and green chili that came with.
We ordered the lamb gosht, which had ample gamey flavor. It was also the least spicy of all the dishes. Normally, I don’t pay too much attention to the least spicy dish, but as we had one in our party who didn’t eat too much heat, this was perfect. Therefore, if you’ve got a semi-spice-averse friend, there’s at least one dish for them!
Of course, we also had to order a chicken tikka masala, England’s national dish! It was a classic. The curry itself had an after-kick and lovely sautéed/slightly burnt onions on top, adding a smoky flavor to all that heat! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
The saag aloo was a bit skimpy on the potatoes, but the curry on this dish was perfect for soaking up the deliciously buttery and soft tandoori roti; they looked like beautiful pillows of bread when they brought them out piping hot. I also ordered a mango lassi which was smooth and creamy, the perfect antidote for a mouthful of spicy food!
Service was perfunctory, with waiters asking once or twice how the food was, but we got the idea that once we finished, we should vacate the table. Though pushy wait staff anxious to turn tables is a small pet peeve of mine, I suppose they were justified, as a line had grown shortly after we sat down around 6:30. Here’s what it looked like around 7:15:
I’ve read about people lining up even for booked tables, so I think the key is, book for an earlier seating to minimize wait time. Don’t worry, though, with food this good – and did I mention the reasonable prices?! – it’s totally worth it.
83-89 Fieldgate St.
Nearest Tube: Whitechapel
020 7247 9543
Cost: ~ £12/person (or approximately $150 HKD)
Note: Tayyabs is BYO
P always makes fun of me for my inability to make decisions. Often before we go out to eat, I research multiple websites to find one great restaurant. My indecisive tendencies have probably cumulatively delayed our meals somewhere around 12.3 hours over the course of a year. Thus, he made me promise that one day I’d just go with the flow and walk into any old restaurant without any prior research whatsoever.
I guess that day was yesterday…and I kind of did it. Basically, P and I tried out a new restaurant with A and P (not the grocery) that they had discovered in TST. A and P said they were walking in TST one night when they were approached by one of the many South Asian salespeople in the area; he led them into the Mughal Club, a wonderful Halal Indian restaurant you might otherwise never find by yourself. Giving directions to the restaurant sounds like something from a scavenger hunt: It’s located in Haiphong Mansion, which has an address on Nathan Road. Forget that – enter through Haiphong Road (I believe the exact number is 53-55 Haiphong Road). Then take the elevators to the second floor. When you get off the elevator, turn right immediately. It’s the first door you encounter.
Anyways, when we walked in, it looked like any run-of-the-mill Indian place you might find in Chungking Mansions – kind of a hole in the wall. But man, the food was good! We ordered four dishes: Butter chicken, palak paneer, chicken tikka masala, and baingan bharta, an eggplant dish I’d never had before. My favorites were the chicken tikka masala (sorry for the fuzzy pic!) and the palak paneer. I loved that the chicken definitely had a kick to it! There was no holding back on the heat, as is so often done when Indian restaurants try to cater to HK palates. This was full-on, authentic spice! I also loved how I’d get a hit of cilantro every so often.
The palak paneer was also awesome because, as you can see, the spinach really was the star. In a lot of restaurants where I’ve had this, the spinach is darker and seems to lose some of its spinach-y flavor. This palak paneer was green and lovely. I could taste the vegetable with every bite.
I was really surprised at how undiscovered Mughal Club is. We went on a Saturday night and besides us, there were only two tables, both occupied by South Asian families (we all took this as a good sign). I’d definitely urge all Indian food aficionados to try this place out – the food is worth the challenge of finding it! Also, if you get a Mughal Club card, it’s 10% off your total bill (which was already amazingly cheap for us – we ordered the four dishes, drinks, three types of naan and two rotis for under $100 each).
Spread the word, friends, spread the word.
2/F, Haiphong Mansion, 53-55 Haiphong Road
Cost: ~ $70/person