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Nov 19, 2012 01:47 PM

London - Whitechapel Pakistani Face-off: Tayyabs vs Needoo Grill

Despite the existence of other good Pakistani/Indian-Muslim dining options in Whitechapel, e.g. Maeda Grill, Lahore Kebab House, etc. - attention invariably turned to rival Pakistani duo: the older, more established Tayyabs, and its younger clone, Needoo Grill - rated by many as a serious contender and viable alternative to Tayyabs.

Anyhoo, I'd never had Pakistani in London before (my only acquaintance with the cuisine was over 10 years ago when I visited Karachi and Islamabad on business).

First stop this evening: Tayyabs (Est. 1972). Service was ultra-efficient, even if the waiters looked indifferent & unsmiling. What I tried:
- Mutton samosa: crisp-fried and quite tasty, though I’d tried much better-tasting ones elsewhere.
- Vegetable samosa: very tasty – the mashed curried potato & onion filling providing a pleasant textural contrast to the crisp shell of the samosa. Again, not exactly the best-tasting samosas I’d had.
- The day's special: Nihari, a slow-cooked spicy leg of lamb stew, with matchstick-sized strips of ginger and lots of golden-brown shallots to give the gravy a killer punch. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. The gravy went deliciously with my bread order:
- Peshwari naan. I’m not sure here – but aren’t Peshwari naans supposed to contain nuts & dried fruits? The one served here was sweetish in flavour but did *not* contain anything inside the ‘roti’.
- Sweet lassi was very well-made.

Second stop: Needoo Grill, only 3-years-old this year. It’s a rip-off of Tayyabs but, hey, if the concept ain’t broke, why fix it? It’s brighter, more cheerful, and the waiters were warm & friendly. Food-wise, what I had:
- Mutton samosa: it’s *microwaved*!! The samosa’s pastry skin was actually soggy, whilst the minced mutton filling was dry, so much so that the minced meat & pea filling simply scattered out once you cut the samosa open. Am shocked by such lackadaisical approach to cooking!
- Vegetable samosa: same treatment given here: microwaved. Worst, the pastry shell was greasy and soggy, with hard edges.
- Main course: Karahi lamb chops masala, which were 3 small chops cooked in spicy masala gravy. The lamb chops were tough and not that meaty. But the masala gravy was spicy and delicious.
- Peshwari naan – exactly the same as the one at Tayyabs, i.e. no fruit-and-nut filling. But the one here - pillowy-soft, sweetly delicious & with just the right amount of ghee on top - tasted better than Tayyabs'.
- Mango lassi here was simply superb. Pity about the food.

How do the two places compare? In my opinion, no contest really – Tayyabs by a mile!

Address details
83-89 Fieldgate Street
London E1 1JU
Tel: 020 7247 6400

Needoo Gril
87 New Road
London E1 1HH
Tel: 020 7247 0648

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  1. As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery - in Needoo Grill's case, it even extends to the after-dinner mint given with the bill!

    1. Well, that settles that. What really has me gobsmacked is how someone can eat one meal right after another.. dim sum, Pakistani.. what next?!?

      3 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        Well, I had fellow Hound, limster, to help me thru my dim sum ( & roast duck ( quests.

        On the China/SE-Asia board, I once delved into the (in)famous Singapore laksa wars:

        As well as my search for the best wanton noodles in Singapore:

        1. re: zuriga1

          me too - i'm very impressed by your stamina (gluttony?!?) klyeoh!

          1. re: abby d

            Of course, I didn't finish *everything* on the plate(s).

        2. Tayabs wins but it seems that he bar is set a a very low level. I ate a Tayabs a few years ago and it was OK but not somewhere I would rush back to. The famed lamb chops are tasty but the meat isn't great quality. Does its fame say more about the standard general of Indian/Pakistani in London or more about the overall level of expectations of diners in London?

          3 Replies
          1. re: PhilD

            "Does its fame say more about the standard general of Indian/Pakistani in London or more about the overall level of expectations of diners in London?"
            I'd say a bit of both actually.

            Anyhoo - Howler & Limster have organized a Parsi dinner for London-based CHs tomorrow, so I'm hoping for some fab Indian food!

            1. re: klyeoh

              I expect it will be good - it will be interesting to read the write up.

              1. re: klyeoh

                I would have definitely ordered other things at Needoo. I used to eat there quite often when I lived down the road and my go to dishes were more towards the karahi, the palak paneer and some other similar stuff. It was generally pretty solid, but I haven't bothered getting anything from there since I discovered Lahori Nihari (down the road from where I now live interestingly enough.) It's vastly superior to both. I always found Tayyabs to be distinctly mediocre with seriously restrained spice levels. I gave it quite a few tries before Needoo opened during my year in Whitechapel.

            2. Tayyabs might be the most fun east end option and I like it for visitors who like food but aren't serious hounds.

              In my view Lahore Kebab House is significantly superior to both Tayyabs and Needoo for food.

                1. re: howler

                  Weeelllll, I just wanted to taste them myself ;-)