This Punjabi/Pakistani restaurant in the East End (Whitechapel, and built onto an old synagogue, apparently) has gotten tons of ink, so I can’t add much. Three of us last Friday evening went there after a couple of pints at possibly the worst time of the week to go there without a reservation, and had, well, an experience. The queue wrapped around the restaurant, but the person in our group who’d been before assured us it moved quickly. So we queued, mushed together but moving out of the way of waiters who were dashing and bobbing with hot dishes spewing acrid fumes (nothing wrong with them, I’m just sensitive) of grilled meat and onions. The queue itself did move quickly – that is, until we got to the front, where we waited over an hour, apparently because we had the audacity to be a group of three instead of two. Once we sat, though – around 10 pm! – we did get served pretty quickly, after making sure not to dither too much with the menus (which wasn’t too hard, as there are not an overwhelming number of choices). Unfortunately we had to remind them – twice, I think – to bring the second plate of pilau rice we’d ordered, and the naan. Even at that hour, the restaurant was really cramped, and we felt rushed.
The food itself was very tasty, quite hot, but with the flavors of individual spices standing tall; you could tell, for example, that the coriander seed was ground by hand. The naan was bubbly, fresh, and buttery, though Andrew found the peshwari naan (whih I didn’t try) a little too sweet. A mango lassi, creamy, bubbly, and delicate, was the perfect balm to counter the fiery spices (even the raita in the sauce dish was hot). I’m glad we didn’t over-order, because my appetite always starts to tank after 9 pm, but Andrew came through and make sure we didn’t leave too much behind. Reading other people’s reviews (thank you, Bellaphon), I’m sorry I didn’t order the signature lamb chops, because I do love to gnaw on bones (yellow card to the first person to post a rude comment). We vowed to come back to try more of the menu, but I’m not entirely sure when, because it seems the problems with long queues and rushed, indifferent service can happen at any time, and we have yet to see whether booking ahead indeed solves these issues.