BRICK LANE FOOD TOUR

Food and Street Art are among the things I enjoy most, so when Eating London Tours asked me if I would like to join them their Brick Lane  food tour YES was the only possible answer. Poppadum’s and pickles are the time honoured way to start a meal of curry.  That’s the way the tour starts in the area’s oldest Bangladeshi restaurant.  Nazrul opened in 1979 as the civil war in Bangladesh caused many people to head for the safety of Brick Lane.

Brick Lane Food Tour

Cobra beer is one of the other things associated with a curry and we sipped some whilst we listened to history of Brick Lane.  I confess that I had always assumed that it was an Indian brand but turns out I’m wrong.  Karam Bilmoura came up with the idea for Cobra whilst living in Fulham.  He wanted a lager that was less gassy to enable him to eat more food.  Launching a new beer was not easy in the recession struck 1990’s and so he struck on the idea of trying to crack the niche market of curry houses.

Brick Lane Food Tour

As we walked along Brick Lane we learnt that the area has long been associated with migrant populations.  First of all the Huguenots came in flight from France, they were followed by the Jews in flight from Germany and most recently Bangladeshi people came fleeing civil war.  Brick Lane became the centre of what is now known as Bangla town and it is famous for its many food outlets.  Next stop on our journey was Taj Stores which opened for business in 1936.  Think of spice and you will be able to find it here, along with many exotic vegetables and unfamiliar river fish.  Fresh supplies are flown in every day from Bangladesh.

Brick Lane Food Tour

I have often walked down Brick Lane and seen the shops selling a wide array of savoury snacks but have felt intimidated by the choice.  We were led into Arzu, which confusingly promised to be a sweet shop outside.  On display were all manner of tempting morsels which we were told are known as Telebhaja.  These are traditionally sold to be eaten immediately, so that’s what we did.  My Lamb Samosa was among the best things I have ever eaten.

Brick Lane Food Tour

Chicken Tikka Masala, Prawn Bhuna and Lamb Saag are among the dishes that you expect to see on a curry house menu.  These are not what most Bengalis eat at home where river fish is the order of the day.  Next stop on tour was Gram Bangla which was started by Addul Shadid who missed his mother’s cooking and reckoned that he couldn’t be the only one.  Here the thing to do is to head to back of the restaurant, past the open kitchen to wash your hands for here the way to eat is with your hands (cutlery is available).  We ate a curry of Keski, which are teeny tiny fish and Chitol or fishballs, washed down by mago Lassi.  This was curry as I have never tasted before and I am plotting my return.

Brick Lane Food Tour

Now our guide led us away from Brick Lane and over the Whitechapel Road to Tayyabs.  In the evenings, especially at weekends, you are advised to book as long queues form outside.  Tayyabs opened in 1972 as a tiny café, over the years its reputation has grown and it has expanded into next door pub.  Here the menu was more familiar but the food was so good, especially the breads, I can see why folk will queue for at least an hour to get in.

Brick Lane Food Tour

© Eating London Food Tours

No meal is complete without pudding.  We had actually chosen ours earlier from Rajmahal Sweets on Brick Lane.  Sugar, milk (sometimes condensed milk) and flour are the main ingredients of Indian sweets.  We selected from a long counter filled with sweets in all colours and varying degrees of sweetness, from sweet to so sweet your teeth hurt.  My selection was at the very sweet end of the spectrum and was lovely.

Brick Lane Food Tour

I have been to Brick Lane many times in the years that I have lived in London and even on occasion eaten curry there.  Going on the Brick Lane food tour has opened my eyes to the sheer variety and quality of food on offer, next time I visit I will ensure that my visit coincides with a meal time.

Good to know:

  • Turn up hungry, you will eat lots on the Brick Lane Food tour.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you walk quite a way.
  • If you see something that you want to buy in Taj stores, do it and don’t wait until later as the tour finishes some way away.  I regret not buying a large box of mangoes.
  • Come equipped with a bottle of water and an umbrella, who know what London’s weather will deliver!
  • Allow two and half hours for the tour.
brick lane food tour – flavours of india and beyond

Cost £46  for an adult, concessions are available.  Book via London Food Tour website.  The tour runs Monday – Sunday at 2.30.

DISCLAIMER: I was given my place on the tour for free in return for an honest review.

Brick Lane Food tour

Wander Mum

Oregon Girl Around the World

 

19 Comments

  1. June 6, 2017 / 5:15 pm

    I was in London for AGES before I realised that “pudding” just meant dessert and not an actual pudding. I still don’t quite get it. Or the obsession with banoffee, BUT I do love a good sweet treat, and those Indian sweets look delicious! #CityTripping

    • June 6, 2017 / 5:58 pm

      How funny, I’m with you on banoffee!

  2. June 8, 2017 / 8:49 am

    This sounds such a fantastic tour – like most Londoners I’ve been to Brick Lane and the area before but never really explored in such detail. I had no idea they flew river fish in or that it was such a Bangladeshi staple either. Very tempted to sign myself up for this. #farawayfiles

    • June 8, 2017 / 8:52 am

      The teeny tiny fish curry was amazing

  3. June 8, 2017 / 11:17 am

    What a fantastic tour! It’s been ages since I’ve been out to eat at Brick Lane and I’ll make a note of these places you visited as they sound so great. Samosas are my favorite so would love to try the one at Arzu. Thanks for sharing! #CityTripping

  4. Jackie
    June 8, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    I love Brick Lane so I have pinned this!

  5. June 8, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    I should never have read this hungry – I now may need to go and raid the fridge (or perhaps get a homemade curry out of the freezer) I love Brick Lane area, if for nothing other than the food, but I learnt a lot here, I especially like the Cobra fact, my husband always orders Cobra with a curry! #citytripping

  6. jphowze
    June 9, 2017 / 8:15 am

    I’d love to spend a bit more time on Brick Lane — I’ve only ever had the most cursory of visits. Also, fascinating tidbit about Cobra beer! #farawayfiles

  7. June 9, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    I had no idea about Cobra beer either, that’s brilliant that it was specifically designed so you could eat more curry! #farawayfiles

  8. June 10, 2017 / 5:26 pm

    We love Brick Lane and try to visit whenever we are in London, but often feel like we’re blundering around. Definitely saving this for next time! #farawayfiles

  9. June 10, 2017 / 8:42 pm

    I would love this tour! I am newly addicted to curries, but have limited access here in Copenhagen beyond the standard butter chicken and tikka masala. Yum. Hungry now! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • June 10, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      You need a visit to London now!

  10. June 11, 2017 / 11:04 am

    The one food I’ll miss when we leave London is the Indian food as it’s generally excellent and there is a lot of variety across the different regions. Sounds like my kind of food tour! #FarawayFiles

  11. pigeonpairandme
    June 12, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Really interesting post, Catherine! Like you I’d always thought that Cobra was an Indian beer. It’s such a long time since I’ve been on Brick Lane. You’ve whetted my appetite for some flavoursome food there! #Farawayfiles

    • June 12, 2017 / 2:19 pm

      It’s lunchtime and I could just eat one of those samosas!

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