Lamb Chops at Tayyabs

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Like many people, I have issues with lamb chops. The main thing is that I’m one of those people who thinks that lamb chops have as much meat along the bone as in the small, obvious triangle that the other faction believes to be the only edible part of the cut. Yes, that means that I’m one of those people who picks up a chop in their fingers and chews the tasty, fatty, juicy tidbits straight from the skeleton. This makes me a) disgusting to that half of the world’s diners who are overly obsessed with table manners and b) among those who find lamb chops super-fiddly and thus tend to steer away from them.

“In a universe divided into lamb chop factions, these just may be the ones to make me switch sides”

But, in a universe divided into lamb chop factions, I think these just may be the ones to make me switch sides!

They are encrusted with cracked spices on the outside, giving them a crunch before you reach tender, luscious meat. The aforementioned triangle is lamby, but without the gamey, over-obvious flavour that sheep sometimes has which can set it apart from other meats, demanding it takes the centre of attention and making, to my mind, one lamb dish often taste like any other. It has taken on a rich, hot, south-Asian spiciness which, I admit, I couldn’t imagine when hearing one should head to an Indian cafe/restaurant for chops.

And across the bone was the melting, oozing, fatty bonus, that no doubt half the world misses, and boy are they missing out. It has practically the consistency of St John’s’ bone marrow, and the same rich dripping flavour.

I can’t give a review of a dish at Tayyabs without mentioning the unique setting. Absolutely bustling, even on a Wednesday night, there is a queue of maybe a hundred, for a vast restaurant on two floors that must feed a thousand covers a night. We are lucky enough to have a booking, which I’d advise. But even with such a huge domain, the food was still brought within a handful of minutes. It must be a really well-oiled machine, both front of house and in the kitchen.

The rest of the dishes were spot on, with (very) spicy curries, excellent breads and the standard rice offer. But I definitely wouldn’t miss out on a starter of chops next time I’m here.

Chilli lamb skewers at Manchurian Legends

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Manchurian Legend’s menu (I’m informed) is Dongbei-style, and features a lot of unusual dishes (and a whole section of tripe, organs, and other things I’d rather avoid) – while your standard Chinese-restaurant dishes are relegated to the if-you’re-going-to-be-boring set menus. Their lamb skewers are an absolute snip at £1.50 each, and no doubt would come lonely on their own plate if you ordered a single one alone.

“The lamb has taken on a rich, aromatic flavour”

These look like mini-kofte kebabs, on thin sticks you could certainly imagine picking up from a night-market stall-holder. The outside is encrusted with chilli and cumin, and I found myself gulping down water to stave off the spicy heat. This wasn’t especially because I’m generally a lightweight when it comes to chilli, but is likely to be more down to the fact I was guzzling the meat down, so delicious and moreish was it. The lamb, presumably beaten violently till tender, before being char-grilled, has taken on a rich, aromatic flavour, while the spices coating it add crunch, as well as a potency to the aroma that comes from the dry, sauce-free outside.

We ate these with a ‘big bowl chicken’, which I love at Silk Road in Camberwell (who, frankly, do it better), but this wasn’t absolutely necessary. I’d order a few of these skewers, pair them with a simple vegetable, fried in garlic, and write off the rest of the evening to slumber in a warm, meaty stupor.

There’s not much else to say: a simple dish, with strong, vibrant flavours, that works absolutely brilliantly, and with an expertise that comes from getting a particular thing right through practice. I’ll definitely be back.