It’s taken me months to get to Needoo Grill, mostly because it’s located just around the corner from its famous sibling, New Tayyabs. In other words, if I’m in Whitechapel craving tandoor, I usually end up at tried-and-true Tayyabs despite its brutally-long queues.
Two Fridays ago, Jon and I finally willed ourselves to forgo Tayyabs and try out Needoo Grill, which is owned by the former manager of Tayyabs (Needoo is apparently his nickname).
Having apparently forgotten that we were merely a party of two, Jon and I ordered veg samosas, seek kebabs, grilled lamb chops, karahi lamb, a special of the day (haleem), aubergine dal, peshwari naan, regular naan and rice pilau. Frighteningly, we ate it all.
Needoo Grill’s seek kebabs were as juicy and spicy as they are at Tayyabs, but Needoo’s lamb chops varied from tough to top-notch. A few of the chops were covered in too much marinade, though I realize some people don’t believe you can ever have too much marinade.
Paneer was wonderfully smoky and spicy.
I’d hoped to eat a dal makhni, which is the dark, buttery lentil dish that takes ages to make at home. But Needoo had run out (really?), so Jon and I ordered the aubergine dal (dal baingun) on the strength of Food Stories calling it “one of the best I’ve ever eaten”. The smoky, silky aubergine added great texture and flavor to the yellow lentils, and it is indeed a delicious dish. But it’s no dal makhni. Sniff.
The special-of-the-day was haleem, a thick, meaty paste. Apparently you make haleem by braising meat (here, lamb) for hours with lentils, and then you puree the whole thing. For me, eating pureed meat brings to mind unpleasant visions of living in an old person’s home, so Jon and I mixed our haleem with the karahi lamb dish we’d ordered, and that worked out better for us. Haleem seems like it’d be an acquired taste.
I’m a sucker for the sweet nuttiness of peshwari naan, but ordering an entire portion for myself was too much. I liked that Needoo’s version was studded with fennel seeds to add a light fragrance to the sugary filling, but fennel seeds or no, the peshwari naan was too heavy for me to eat it solo.
Overall, eating at Needoo Grill was a pleasant experience. Our servers were a lot less harried than they are at Tayyabs, and they took the time to make recommendations and answer questions. The lamb chops might not be as consistently good as they are at Tayyabs, but everything else we tried was comparable. And you definitely can’t beat Needoo’s prices. Our tab for enough food to feed three was £35.
Needoo Grill, 87 New Road, E1 1HH; 020 7247 0648; closest tube station: Whitechapel