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

klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 01:47 PM

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. k
    klyeoh RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 01:58 PM

    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. zuriga1 RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 02:16 PM

      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
        klyeoh RE: zuriga1 Nov 19, 2012 02:31 PM

        Well, I had fellow Hound, limster, to help me thru my dim sum (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878337) & roast duck (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/828315) 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
          abby d RE: zuriga1 Nov 20, 2012 03:04 AM

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

          1. re: abby d
            klyeoh RE: abby d Nov 20, 2012 03:57 AM

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

        2. PhilD RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 02:44 PM

          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
            klyeoh RE: PhilD Nov 19, 2012 02:46 PM

            "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
              PhilD RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 02:49 PM

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

              1. re: klyeoh
                JFores RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 03:40 PM

                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. m
              ManInTransit RE: klyeoh Nov 19, 2012 02:59 PM

              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. howler RE: klyeoh Nov 20, 2012 01:52 AM

                peter - you really should trust me


                1 Reply
                1. re: howler
                  klyeoh RE: howler Nov 20, 2012 03:56 AM

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

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