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Nov 27, 2007 09:09 AM

Tayyabs. Why all the recs?

What's so special about this place that it gets so many mentions here?

When I looked at their website a few weeks ago ( they have a new one), the menu seemed pretty much "bog standard". Prices also seemed pretty much what I'd expect in my part of the world (therefore, perhaps, on the cheap side for London).

So what is its secret? Do they cook particularly well? Have missed I something on the menu that makes it stand out from so many other sub-continental places? Is it price? Or is it hype?

If it really is worth a visit, I'll add to my list for my next trip "down south".

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  1. Yes, they really know what they are doing and use superb ingredients.

    I was was there on Saturday evening and the place was packed.

    It is now four times bigger than what is was when it opened.

    For me, its a very close call between Tayyabs and The Lahore in Umberton Street another place that has done phenomenally well..

    1. I've only been once for a takeaway, and I loved it. I had the highly praised dry meat curry and it was gorgeous, and really different from the bog standard dishes from other "Indian" and Pakistani restaurants. As far as I remember, whilst there are what looks like the usual kebab and tandoori type starters, the rest of the menu is different from the usual stuff you get, and is much shorter. Apparently the tandoori dishes are much higher quality than elsewhere.

      I have also been to the Lahore Kebab House and wasn't particularly impressed - good chiken wings, but the lamb dish I had was just like any other place I've been to - no better, no worse.

      1. As I've posted elsewhere, I think Tayyabs is over-rated. It was good before the refit, but has been a victim of its success ever since. I normally cross the road for Turkish food at Maedah Grill or walk to Bethnal Green Road for Indian food at the similarly-sounding Mai'da.

        1. I just asked my Pakistani friend about this restaurant. He replied "It's almost legendary. Highly recommended", so I've added it to my wishlist. Will let you know (next year I guess!)

          Helen Yuet Ling Pang

          16 Replies
          1. re: foodie guide

            and of course being pakistani hes bound to know good food.

            i'm beginning to think this is our chow version of "some of my best friends are ..."

            1. re: howler

              Howler, what is your impression of Tayyabs ?

              1. re: osho

                it does a few things well. good seekh kebabs, roti and on occasion good shammi kebabs.

                but the main dishes - unless you don't mind feeling completely dehydrated and a little sick from all the oil - are over the top. and as for vegetables (never a north indian strong point, but on the other hand a good crisp roti and alu gobi is a thing of joy), the less said the better.

                1. re: howler

                  I thought they had fabulous kababs and the lamb was pretty good too. As you said, veggies are seldom the strong suit.

                  It reminded me of random places in bylanes off Mohammed Ali Road in Bombay or Lakshmi Chowk in Lahore. I quite liked it.

                  Also, I think you should give Raavi Kabab on Drummond Street a shot.

                  Do not (ever) order the Tandoori dishes, but the Haleem, Nihari and veggies are pretty darned good - none of that oil spill syndrome here.

                    1. re: osho

                      aah you are lucky - lakshmi chowk in lahore (i've never been, but i bet you changed that name in a hurry!)

                      but as for the by lanes of muhammad ali road - i grew up on that stuff (two horrific jousts with cholera and typhoid for my troubles) - and i dont think the comparison holds. firstly, the meat just tastes different - i suspect they are using lamb at tayyabs. of course its goat in the sub-continent. secondly, the spicing is that much subtler.

                      thank you for the raavi tip - but tell me this: have you ever seen anyones name spelled 'raavi' before? its always 'ravi', no? thats why i gave it the miss (must be for tourists, i thought howlerishly). i tried saying it aloud a few times and at best i could come up with 'raavi' as a creative dimunitive for 'rafiq'.

                      1. re: howler

                        As a matter of fact, the name Lakshmi Chowk in Lahore remains unchanged until today ! For the record, amhi Mumbaikar aahot ...

                        Agreed, they do use lamb at Tayyabs, as opposed to goat .... spicing is worlds apart.

                        Maybe it is the West Punjabi way of saying the word "Ravi". The word itself refers to the river Ravi - one of the five rivers in the word 'Punjab'. I am positive Oonth and others can educate us further.

                        1. re: osho

                          "amhi Mumbaikar aahot ..."

                          mi pan!

                          ok, i'll try out raavi.

                          1. re: howler

                            OK. So will I.

                            I had another thread running for lunch near Euston - Drummond Street had seemed favourite. Unless, of course, there's anywhere better along the road than Raavi.

                            1. re: Harters

                              A few words of caution. Raavi on Drummond St do not allow BYOB.

                              Avoid the tandoori chicken at all costs. It is beyond terrible.

                              I can vouch for Nihari, Saag Aloo, Daal and Haleem. The rotis are pretty darned good too.

                              1. re: osho

                                Thanks. No worries about the BYOB - I don't drink

                          2. re: osho

                            Wish that I could but off the top of my head, I have no revelations. I will check with the folks to see if they have any ideas. I actually used to know a Raavi growing up in Sheffield but he was the son of UP-ites so that doesn't seem like a very helpful lead.

                            I will also check out this eatery when I'm next in London, have to admit, it's never previously been on my radar.

                2. re: foodie guide

                  foodie guide

                  Yes, I appreciate that it "almost legendary" which is why I started the thread . Does you friend indicate why he thinks it is? I'm trying to see if it is, in fact, something actually out of the ordinary and, so far, nothing here has convinced me it is.

                  1. re: Brit on a Trip

                    Brit on a Trip

                    Let me try and find out more from him. He's a man of few words, but I think he knows his food.

                    Helen Yuet Ling Pang

                    1. re: Brit on a Trip

                      no, its not bog standard by any means - its light years away from any of the usual bangla run curry houses.

                      but before i address that, i'd like to point out that its unfair comparing london prices to northern prices: rents are ludicrous here in sin city and the poor punters got to pay more.

                      now. tayyabs is sorta kinda somewhat like 'dhaba' food in north india (truck stop restaurants). it aint typical 'go out to eat' restaurant food, but that doesn't mean you should think of tayyabs as bog standard. dhabhas have near legendary status, and the hip thing is to swear to the kaali daal or the chicken etc at your favourite dhabha as the best version ever.

                      a sub-continentals take on tayyabs will be in the context of a dhabha; criticized/appreciated within that frame. but make no mistake: i'd rather have new tayyabs worst dish over the best of what khans in westbourne grove offers.

                      1. re: howler

                        Thanks for the comments - of course, I don't know Khan's either, so can't make that comparision. In my OP, I was makng a favourable comment about their prices - as they are broadly similar to what I'd pay around Manchester in a "bog standard Indian", they are therefore seemingly good value for London.


                  2. FWIW I'm still a fan.

                    I wrote briefly (and positively) about my last sit down experience there in May:


                    Last night myself and a mate got some takeway - a chicken tikka roll each (with extra salad and spicy yoghurt sauce) and a katlama to share. Cost = £3.40 per roll and £1.50 for the katlama; very very filling and both items delicious.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: oonth


                      Did you ever ask your dad where the Rusholme katlama place was? Still interested if it still exists.


                      1. re: Brit on a Trip

                        John, I will ask him when I next speak to him. A bit of a long shot (that the place is still there or even that my old man remembers the name) though as this was all well over 10 years ago. We used to go to Rusholme a lot as the grocery options were superior to what we could find in Sheffield which has a much smaller Asian community. Next time I make it across the Pennines, I will scout around and see if I can sniff out any places of interest on Wilmslow Road, there may even be a couple of dhabha style places remaining.

                        1. re: Brit on a Trip

                          John, turns out that it was Sanam's after all. If you try one, please report back, I used to enjoy them but these days probably wouldn't attempt to eat a whole one on my own as they are very heavy.

                          1. re: oonth

                            I'll try and suss it out soon, although I've gone off Rusholme recently. It just seems to be going through a seedy phase. Sanam's still a pretty good place to eat though. I'll be interested to see your report back on the area next time you make it over this side.

                            1. re: Brit on a Trip

                              Hey, oonth.

                              I was along Wilmslow Road today (good sharwarma for lunch at Jaffa - which a newish kebab type caff. Nice looking salady stuff as well. Place was packed).

                              However, I'd forgotten there are two Sanams. I seem to recall there was a family falling-out some time back and neither relative would give up the name. I popped into the larger one and there's no sign of anything savoury being sold. But I did treat myself to a small box of mixed sweets which I'm nibbling while I type (greedy so-and-so that I am).


                              1. re: Harters

                                Glad to hear it, Wilmslow Rd holds fond memories of yesteryear for me. Wasn't aware of the 2 Sanams and the family split but that wouldn't be an unusual occurence in a sub-continental household :-)