Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Needoo Grill, 87 New Road, Whitechapel, E1 1HH, London
Where did we usually go for curry? Easy peasy. It if it was Southern Indian, then we went to Suvai or Chennai Dosa in East Ham. Otherwise, we'd usually go to Lahore Kebab House, Mirch Masala or New Tayyabs, all located in the Whitechapel area. So, when a family friend suggested we go try out Needo, I was fairly sceptical.
How glad I am now though that we went to try it out. It is my new favourite, and I'll make it my objective to try everything here at least once.
Apparently, the former manager of Tayyab's is now running this place. I'm not sure how that affects the cooking here, unless the manager's also the chef, but I can tell you for a fact that the food here is definitely pleasing. We ordered numerous items from the menu, and all of them delivered. Not only was the service fast and efficient, but the waiting staff managed to put up with our very loud group, and also excessive photo-taking from my part.
Also, this is perhaps the first curry restaurant I've been to where they offered to change my plates in between courses.
Because we were there at the invitation of our family friend, Uncle T, I'm not sure what was ordered - only that plate after plate of food kept coming to the table all through the meal. Every time I finished photographing one plate, another one would turn up (husband was kept very happy at the thought of all this continuous flow of food, can't blame him). So, if descriptions and names are kept vague, it's because I'm not sure what it was.
(UPDATE: They have a website, so now I have dish names, hooray)
Pakoras / Onion bhaji £1.20 per portion
I'm not sure if I had this ... I might have. Either way, everything else was good so I'm sure this would have been to. Must make a point of trying this next time I go there.
Shami kebab £0.80 each
These patties are made from a mixture of minced meat and chickpeas. There is something very similar to it in Malaysia, and you can find it at the 'nasi campur' (economy rice) stalls. Usually made with mashed potatoes and minced meat, the little patties are coated in a batter and then deep fried. Eating this is similar to eating a hash brown, but with minced meat in it, and also slightly thicker and fluffier. This one was nice, though I only had half of one (I didn't know when the plates would stop coming, so thought I'd better slow it down a little).
Grilled meats (Seekh kebab £0.80 each, lamb chops £4 for 6 pieces, chicken tikka £3 for 5 pieces) or you could get Needo's Mixed Grill for £10 (combination of the meats)
The usual suspects - seekh kebab (minced lamb), chicken kebab, and some other form of grilled lamb (come on, don't pretend you've never had this before). As it was brought to the table, with the little sizzling spits and fanfare, there were lots of ooohs and aaahs from the diners at the table. As more and more plates of this came out, slight worry started to set in (for me, anyway).
My mom though, ate on happily, thinking that those items were the main course.
How does this compare to Lahore's grilled meats? Well, and this is my opinion alone, I thought that in terms of the lamb chops, both places had similar standards - both textures and tastes were good. I probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart in a taste test.
In terms of the other stuff, the grilled chicken and seekh kebab at Needo's was more juicy and tender compared to the ones at Lahore. I'm not sure why this is so, but the ones we've had at Lahore have been quite dry and almost hard to chew on. A quick check around the table confirmed my opinion, so I guess we'll be coming back here for grilled meats next time.
Chilli paneer £3 for 5 pieces
This was the first time I'd had grilled paneer, and while there was nothing particularly surprising about the texture of it (unless you've never had paneer before, then, SURPRISE!) but as you can see, there's some sort of chilli marinade around the cheese, which brought out a nice, slightly tangy, smoky flavour to it.
Texture-wise, it was similar to that of grilled halloumi, in that it squeaked a little when chewed on. I love how halloumi squeaks. Makes me feel as though my molars are nice and clean. I'm sure that's not the case.
The naan bread here (couldn't find the plain naan price on the menu, but I reckon it's about £2) is one of the nicest I've had. Not only is it soft and fluffy, but they use something here to make it one of the most fragrant naans I've had. Tasted like butter, perhaps it was ghee? Each soft and chewy mouthful was absolutely wonderful, I didn't need any curry sauces to spice it up, the naan bread alone was tasty enough.
OK now we get to the REALLY vague bits - the curries. When we were ordering, there was something about 'What do you wanna have?' going around the table. We suggested bhindi gosht (because we're boring like that and order the same thing everywhere we go) and also fish curry of some sort, but there were 5 curries brought to the table.
Somewhere along the table, I'm sure I heard the words 'chickpea curry' being mentioned, so I'm sure this balti above is that. I mean, it certainly looks like it, doesn't it? I remember what it tastes like though, so don't you go jumping off to another more reputable, interesting blog just yet ... It tasted nice. There. OK OK, the chickpeas were cooked perfectly - al dante - and the spices were just right to bring out the best of the chickpeas.
After this, I can't even pretend to know what was what, so let's just say - I enjoyed every one of those curries very much. Not only were they tasty, and the meat tender without being stringy, but there was a pleasant lack of grease in the curries so for that alone, it scores extra points.
We really enjoyed ourselves here. The waiting staff were more than happy to accommodate our strange requests (to take lots of pics in a curry restaurant), they didn't mind the fact that we were making lots of noise, the service was quick and efficient, and for you footie fans out there, they have a flat screen TV (which was showing Man U and some other team at the time) so if the conversation runs dry, there's always the telly to cheer you up.
On the way out, we then discovered the whole array of grilled items by the counter which we completely missed on the way in, in our haste to meet our friends.
The chef dude standing at the counter actually asked me to keep him in the photo while I was busy snapping away, and since there's nothing better than the backdrop of a guy waving behind samosas, here is the picture.
We're definitely making another visit to this place. Lots of other stuff we haven't tried.