original lahore restaurant, london

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good pakistani food near edgeware road. we were brought to this restaurant by a pakistani friend for a group meet-up, so I think it might have some authenticity-cred. short story before a long exposition: I think tayyabs is better. if you don’t know about tayyabs, then read this first, and also make your way there (but wear clothes you want to laundry soon after as you’ll go home smelling of the food).

anyway, that doesn’t mean the food here wasn’t bad, because it was good. service here was very friendly as well – sitting us very quickly and being very prompt with the food – I actually think service here is better. the ambience is more restaurant-like and the ventilation much better. actually, scratch my earlier sentence. this place is better than tayyabs for everything but the food (which comes quite a close second). this place is better for talking with friends as well, and for having a more sort of restaurant experience.

we started off with a large jug of mango lassi – very thick and flavoursome, though I had to dilute mine with a bit of water for my tastes. have to mention that we were given bottled water – and I can’t remember if we had to pay for them.

two dips, a sweet chili and a green yogurt thing, were laid out alongside a crunchy salad that had basically absorbed the pungency of the onions and we were served poppadums. so thin and crisp and really quite tasty. the first proper dish was a meat kebab thing – I think it was lamb but we weren’t sure – and I was told it was ‘alright’. I’m not sure (non-foodie) men are the most discerning of diners.

the next dish of chicken curry was very oily and greasy, the chicken a bit dry though generally tasty enough. but it’s very difficult to not have a tasty curry seeing as it is basically an amalgamation of spices. the biryani (also lamb) was apparently good (mind you I don’t eat lamb so I can’t tell you).

I had asked for a dish of paneer – here with some spinach – and it wasn’t great. I love halloumi and paneer and all those bland rubbery cheese, but this was just very bland pieces of rubber in a tasty sauce. good sauce though. the dish that you see next to that which is half-eaten was the best dish we had that night. it was a fish curry and I can’t tell you what was in the curry but it had a sweet savouriness going for it, and it was the first thing to disappear off the table.

our naan (roti for me) were good and fluffy and did a good job of sopping up the sauces. we finished off with dessert. rasmalai was a floury disk of something in a milky sauce which I just could not eat but the rest of the table could manage a swallow (boys though, so I’m not sure if you can trust that). that leaf parcel contained in a piece of paper you see above is paan, ordered by our host. I’ve never had it, so I can’t tell you what it tastes like but it’s essentially a pakistani/indian version of betel nut, which is also popular among old asians.

original lahore is a good restaurant on its own, and I recommend the fish curry heartily. if you’ve been to tayyabs this might seem a bit of a letdown, but this place is more convenient and a little less dodgy than whitechapel.

edit: I’ve just read that rasmalai is a piece of paneer soaked in cardamom-flavoured clotted cream. I’ve no idea what gives it that floury and strange taste, but I couldn’t finish it.

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