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🍛 Table Talk #80: Venerable Institutions 🗝️


In a week where talk of age-old institutions seems inescapable, it feels only right that we dedicate a few inches to the most venerable of all - the East London curry house.

When we say curry house, we’re not talking about your run of the mill, local high street offering, we’re talking about the likes of Lahore Kebab House, Tayyabs and the bright-hued relative newcomer, Needoo Grill.


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Having once had the chance to sit down with a famous chef over an ale, conversation moved gingerly between a variety of different topics before we arrived at the restaurants that we return to over and over. We weren’t necessarily talking about the most lauded or the most decorated, instead the places that hold special affection in our hearts.

Almost instantly, we each offered up Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House, the Whitechapel staples that have built reputations over the last half century for their lamb chops and uncompromising approach to hospitality. It was at this point that conversation burst into life as we debated the relative merits of two establishments intrinsically linked and impossible to separate.

Needs no introduction 

For the uninitiated, both are vast palaces of Punjabi cuisine, churning out mixed grills and makhani daal in quantities that beggar belief. Lahore Kebab House, which began life in 1972 and was supposedly set up by the nephew of Mohammad Tayyab, the man who gave his name to the eponymous institution, once sat 14 people but now has capacity for over 600.

These numbers go some way to provide a sense of the scale on which these places are operating and the affection in which they’re held by everyone from local families to City slickers and the hordes of tourists that descend on them daily.

Probably not unlike a meet and greet with a member of the monarchy, walking into one of these establishments feels instantly familiar yet somehow distantThe purveyors greet so many people, see so many faces, that you simply become the latest person that day to fall under their spell, the only difference being that they replace fairytales and fame with pungent spices and dry rubs, and long may it continue.

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See you next week. 

Luke x

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