Review: Tayyabs (London)

We recently spent a long weekend in London. Now I quite like London & have been quite a few times & on this trip, my plan was to go to a lot of the foodie places I’ve heard of but never been to. Needless to say, it didn’t quite happen that way! However, I did get to go to a few amazing restaurants that naturally I want to share with you all. This was meant to be a post summarising those places but I have too much to say so I’m splitting it into 3 posts – enjoy!

My previous trip to London last year, I was introduced to the indian restaurant Tayyabs in Whitechapel. Tayyabs is a bit of an institution when it comes to Indian restaurants & I’ve seen Gizzi Erskine rave about their takeaway on instagram. When you enter the restaurant, there’s people everywhere. Literally, there’s queues of people – one queue for people who have a reservation & another for people who have turned up trying to get a table. We had a reservation as I remembered my previous visit at 8pm on a Friday night & the place was rammed full despite having 3 floors!

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The menu itself isn’t fancy or containing numerous dishes, just a select number of starters & mains. No matter where you sit, you will always be passed by waiters carrying dishes of sizzling grills or curry that smell amazing. As soon as you are seated, a selection of dips, salad & poppadoms are placed for you to munch on whilst picking from the menu. One point I should also mention is that it’s BYOB here, with no corkage charge. Yes that’s right, no extra £5 a bottle for the priviledge of drinking what you want. Bet you don’t find that in many places in London!

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We opted for 2 starters to share: masala fish & chicken tikka. Both dishes are shown on the menu as 2 pieces but are 2 pieces for a reason as they are quite large! The chicken tikka was on the bone thigh & leg which meant getting your hands dirty! The meat itself was so tender as it seemed like it had just been cooked & no more. The masala fish was just as soft, flaking away as we tried to take a piece each from the griddle. The masala fish went really well with the mango chutney that was on the table, the sweetness mixing well with the masala spices.

As Tayyabs is such a busy restaurant, the dishes arrive as soon as they are ready. This meant that whilst we were still eating our starters, our mains arrived. I don’t have an issue with this but it does mean that towards the end of the meal, the mains can be a bit cold.

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We again shared our mains: keema curry (spicy lamb mince) & dry meat. The only way to describe dry meat is tandoori beef with light marinade/sauce covering it with peppers & onions. It doesn’t sound like much I know but it is so moreish! The beef is lean, fragrant & not heavy like regular indian dishes. I also prefered the keema here to other places I have had it as it was not overpowered with any additions like lemon juice. It was just straight up spicy lamb mince. Although I was edging on full, I was determined to finish my meal as the dry meat was that tasty!

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Despite how busy Tayyabs is, we didn’t feel rushed at all during our meal, even when the mains were brought out whilst still munching our starters. I should probably mention the price – for our meal, along with a roti & a portion of pilau rice, it came to just over £30 for the lot!! If you love Indian food & are paying London a visit, not popping into Tayyabs for some food would just be wrong!

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Scotch Lamb

Lamb has never been a meat I’ve ever been particularly fond of. When growing up, our roast dinners would generally be beef or chicken as they went down well with everyone. Anytime I’ve tried lamb I’ve found it to be tough & chewy, often full of fat as well. We won’t discuss the odd kebab here & there… When Scotch Lamb asked if I wanted to attend an exclusive event showcasing Scotch Lamb, I figured I had nothing to lose & may as well see if they could convert me into a lamb lover!

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The event was held in SWG3, which if you’ve ever been to a Scoop pop-up event, you’ll know it’s basically an open warehouse space that can be used in any manner. As the event was aimed at getting people more familiar with lamb & its uses, there were demos from Chef  Jacqueline O’Donnell (of The Sisters & The Great British Menu fame), butchery lessons & different dishes on offer from the Scoop Cartel.

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The one good point about the cartel being involved was the variety of dishes on offer:

  • Lamb tacos from Antojito Cantina
  • Roast lamb on fresh baked (in an amazing stone pizza oven) from So La Ti Dough
  • Lamb Massaman Curry from Pad BKK
  • Braised neck fillet of lamb with jewelled cous cous from Scoop

The shared the first 3 dishes between us since the portions were giant! I first tried the curry & was genuinely surprised at how soft the meat was, it was literally melt in the mouth. The tacos also had a similar style of meat with them but it was a bit lost in the masses of guacamole, salsa & sour cream provided. The roast lamb was probably my least favourite as it was quite fatty – pretty much what I was dreading! However, the bits of lamb I managed to tear off were sweet & succulent.

Lamb Massaman Curry

Lamb Taco

We also watched a couple of demos by Chef Jacqueline since I would not know where to start with cooking lamb. The first demo involved a fillet of lamb with a fruity, morrocan style cous cous. I was honestly surprised at the speed of cooking, since it took around 10 minutes to make the dish! I sample a bit after & the lamb was as soft as a good beef steak. The fruitiness of the cous cous also worked really well with the lamb’s sweetness. I wish I could send a smellogram for the second dish which was Asian influenced & the smell coming from it instantly transported me back to Thailand.

I spoke briefly to Jacqueline after the first demo to ask for some advice on buying lamb & cooking it. The two tips she gave me was to always buy lamb from the butcher, especially if I don’t like fat as the butcher can trim the meat easily & to invest in a good, solid pan, with a wide & flat base as those pans evenly distribute to heat to cook meat evenly.

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In the goodie bag we were given contained an amazing Red Meat cookbook, giving advice on cuts, cooking styles & lots of recipes! Definitely something I’ll be using again. You can get some of the recipes from the Scotch Beef and Lamb website.

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I’m so glad I went along to the event as it’s totally changed my opinion on lamb. Seeing how versatile it is & also how easy to cook, it will definitely be something I will try in the near future. The week after it, in fact, I happily sat down to some Isle of Lewis lamb made by my mother in law which I would never have done before this event!

Thank you lamb!