Looking to spice up your life when you’re visiting London? It’s no secret that Londoners love their curries and if you’re a fan of Indian and Asian cuisine then you’ll want to hotfoot it over to Brick Lane, the curry capital of the UK. This bustling street in East London is a firm favorite with locals and just a ten to fifteen minute walk from Liverpool St tube station. It’s a true slice of London life, featuring a plethora of ethnic restaurants and takeaways, bakeries, markets and street stalls.
In recent years Brick Lane has become somewhat a mecca for art and fashion students to display their creations. Famous graffiti artists such as Banksy have also left their mark here. Londoners tend to typically visit Brick Lane in the weekend for the full ‘art and eat’ experience, so it’s always very busy and the curry houses do a roaring trade. Many of them are family-owned businesses, and some of the older traditional curry houses hark back to the 1970s.
So if it’s a curry you’re after, Brick Lane has plenty of choice to suit every palate; from mild biryanis and tikkas to flavorful butter chicken and delicious kormas. However, it’s fair to say that not all curries are created equal here, so it’s good idea to do your research before you dive head first into the first restaurant you’re invited into. Getting it right can mean the difference between a memorable curry vs. a curry you’d rather forget in a hurry.
So pop these six recommendations in your BUCKiTDREAM trip planner for safe keeping. For those who aren’t good with hot spicy food, don’t let that stop you from enjoying Brick Lane’s fare. Just remember to always order the mild version of your chosen dish and always arrive hungry!
City Spice is located at the heart of Brick Lane at no.138. Owner Abdul took over the restaurant in September 2015, gave the decor a spruce up, hired an award-winning chef with 27 years experience and took on a new management team. Since then the accolades to date include: winning Masterchef 2015, being listed on the 2016 Cobra Good Curry Guide and winning TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016.
The word has been spread about their delicious curries and the restaurant receives a steady stream of celebrities from footballers and fashion designers to TV personalities. Whether or not you’re interested in celebrity-spotting, most importantly, the food is consistently good here. On offer is a typical curry menu with lots of Bengali specialties, interesting fish and veggie dishes, with subtle flavors and tender-cooked meat. Regulars often remark that they always feel welcome at City Spice and that the manager and staff are very attentive. Expect to get value for money here and enjoy a lively busy atmosphere. They can handle a large group of people with ease.
Muhib Indian Cuisine is in the middle of Brick Lane at no.73, and walking distance from Spitalfields and Liverpool Street. Expect to be touted in off the street with a 20% discount and free drinks, but not in a pushy way. Once inside you’ll be seated quickly and the extensive menu explained in detail by friendly and helpful staff. Choose from contemporary Indian dishes freshly cooked to order and placed on the center of the table to be shared.
The heat of the dishes varies, so someone not au fait with spices could choose a very mild chicken tikka masala or, if you can handle a bit more, the medium hot madras prawns. Good portion sizes means a filling meal, with the tandoori, korma and the lemon rice top picks by customers. You can expect a better than average curry here and prices are also pretty reasonable so you won’t come away with an empty wallet.
Brick Lane Brasserie is at 67 Brick Lane a few doors down from Muhib. Head here for a quick and easy meal during the week, or a three-course dinner with friends at the weekend. They can also cater for larger groups. This restaurant is family owned and run, and has a relaxed, fun atmosphere. The ambience is impeccable, with friendly greetings all round and prompt service. The waiters will also recommend their favorites – just be sure to tell them about how much heat you can handle!
The fare is traditional Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, consisting of fish, chicken, lamb and vegetarian dishes. The food is well-spiced, freshly prepared and not floating in oil, as you get with many sub-par places on Brick Road (beware the guys on the street, ushering you into their dodgy-looking venues with promises of a free naan…). Prices are reasonable for (London), and you can get drinks, a main, poppadoms and chutney without going too much over £20 per person. The prawn puri starter, lamb tikka and butter chicken are must-trys.
Kinkao is located at the top of Brick Lane at No. 176. It’s one of the few Thai curry houses in the street but a popular one. Make sure you book on weekends, as the waiting time to be seated may be quite long if you don’t. In terms of the menu, expect a well-priced, comprehensive menu with a wide variety of choices; the staff are friendly and attentive, and happy to recommend any dishes that you might like.
Dishes are beautifully presented and generous portion sizes are a given here. There are lots of vegetarian options and all their food is Halal. The Panang curry and the Pad Thai are standouts. All in all, this restaurant is great value for money and you’ll be surprised when the modest bill is set down with a flourish at the end of your ambrosial feast.
Bengal Cuisine Restaurant is a cozy Indian/Bengali establishment located at no.12 at the beginning of Brick Lane. It prides itself on being an intimate and elegant fusion of traditional and modern. A family-owned restaurant, the dishes tend to be a cut above the rest in terms of subtlety of the flavorings and the quality of the meat. They serve tasty dishes such as curries, tandoori plates, seafood dishes and vegetarian specialties.
This is a great place to try traditional curries such as madras, rogon, korma and vindaloo. Waiters will ask you what level of spiciness you can handle and are generally polite and friendly. The prices here are very reasonable for the quality of the food. You won’t be kept waiting too long for it either, unlike some of the other curry houses in Brick Lane (we told ya, watch out for the hucksters!).
The Eastern Eye Balti House is located at 65A Brick Lane and focuses on traditional and contemporary Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine. The restaurant has elegant decor and offers a proper dining experience, with table cloths, nice cutlery and the like. Air conditioning in summer is a bonus. The waiting staff are fairly quick with their service and polite and attentive.
There are a good number of dishes to choose from including madras, masalas, baltis, biriyanis and around 27 choices for the Eastern Eye Specialities. Expect good quality, great tasting food, large portions and reasonable prices. The Head Chef has 35 years experience, so you’re in good hands if you want a tasty and satisfying meal.
If you’re a curry aficionado then you’ll want to try all these Brick Lane curry houses and tick off a quite a few dishes on your culinary bucket list. There’s nothing quite like posting pictures of a really good curry, complete with #foodporn hashtags, to make other BUCKiTDREAMER’s (and us) really hungry. So don’t forget to share your saliva-inducing snaps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!