Pity the ‘proper’ Londoner who’s never been to Tayyabs. Apart from a recent-ish capitulation to table bookings, Whitechapel’s evergreen institution of a Punjabi curry house is one of the great stalwarts of the city’s food scene; its sizzling mounds of lamb chops one of its defining dishes.
That said, the food is good, rather than great. We hammered through a table-full of standards and house classics. Delicately flavoured cubes of paneer, cooked in the tandoor, had a light, marshmallowy bite; while a karahi tarka dhal, festooned with crisp onions, was soupy and comforting. Best of all was the house signature ‘dry meat’: a pan of hyper-fragrant slow-cooked lamb, humming with long-rendered fat and a harmonious heft of indeterminate spices. Glorious stuff, and best mopped up with papery paratha or chewy pillows of keema naan.
But other dishes were more underwhelming. Pakora were mealy and tepid; and the feted lamb chops, while still violently frizzling, felt a little anaemic and undersized. Still, it’s an atmospherically hectic spot, the staff are still reliably aloof and you’ll pay pennies for insurmountably gargantuan portions. Long may it live on.