After hanging out in Whitechapel for four months, the author believes that he’s entitled to make this type of lists consisting, mostly, of chain restaurants.
Greggs is NOT on the list.
Your own kitchen should probably be No 1 if we’re being honest.
12. The Half Moon (Wetherspoons)
Ah yes. Spoons. Ask anyone on campus and surely they’ll have an opinion on it—just like how everyone had an opinion on Regina George in the beginning of Mean Girls. It’s a bar but they do serve food. Pretty basic: burgers, pies, breakfast food, fries. Though, if you’re here for the first time, you’ve probably come for the cocktail pitchers. It’s a love/hate relationship. On one hand, it alleviates the spending of your wallet, especially if you have your student card with you. On the other, everyone is always at Spoons; and if you’re here, chances are it’s because you have nowhere else to go (e.g.; none of you guys have tickets for Hail Mary and y’all don’t wanna go home before midnight). And sometimes that’s fine! Just don’t make it a habit. Do better. Think Different, Apple.
Every time we went to Nando’s in Mile End was because there was a four-hour gap between two classes, and none of us wanted to get ahead on our assignments. Great little grilled chicken place. The portions are okay—though, a little on the small side, if you ask me. For an extra kick when it’s the middle of the semester, everything is hectic and you feel your anxiety acting up, I recommend pouring that extra hot sauce all over your grilled chicken (you might still be falling behind but maybe at least, you will no longer feel empty inside). Oh, also if you order a soda, you can refill it as many times as you want.
10. Nanna Biryani
I live in Whitechapel, so it totally justifies putting this place on the list. A little Bangladeshi place on the main road, nothing fancy. If you live nearby and are tired of KFC or Burger King, just go in and order the Dhakai Morog Pulao; the OG chicken pilaf. It’s around £8, it fills you up nicely—even I sometimes think that their servings are too much—, but most importantly, it’s good. Plus, you seldom find tourists in there, so that, in my ultra-simplistic mind, is an indicator that this place is legit. They only accept cash under £20 but there are no less than five ATMs across the street. So, no excuse.
9. Sticky Wings
Let’s face it, only basic people go to Nando’s (duh). And we’re special; our mom told us so. We’re up here while all these peasants are down there. All jokes aside, Sticky Wings is a safe investment. For £11, you get a large plate of wings and a side of fries. It’s in Brick Lane, meaning that if you ever become faded with the idea of chicken wings, you can just take a walk around the block, all the way to Old Spitafields Market where you’ll find all kinds of foods from dorayaki to Taiwanese pork buns.
8. Duck & Waffle
It’s hard to tell what’s the most extra about this place. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a 24/7 restaurant perched high up on the fortieth floor of 110 Bishopsgate, giving you a stunning view on London. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the fact that there’s a dress code to eat, literally, a piece of duck thigh on top of a waffle covered in a maple mustard syrup (oops, forgot to tell you about the runny fried egg). I do concur that the duck meat is pretty tender, and that the skin is deliciously crispy; but we’re here for the experience, which costs £18 if you end up getting the eponymous dish. You too can do what I did: suit up with your friends, and walk all the way there, taking one of the many streets of the City while talking outrageously loud and feeling entitled to do so. And if you come here after 11pm, you’ll sit down and suddenly realize that this fancy place is like a late-night McDonalds for rich people. Recommend doing it once in the semester. Also, order the cheese/truffle pasta for the table and get the strawberry vodka cocktail; it’s a revelation.
7. Bari Bari
Finding Bari Bari reignited a primeval instinct in me: the need to actually look for food. Korean food. A friend introduced me to this little place, hidden on White Church Lane, a five-minute walk from my house (unbeknownst to me). A bit expansive but nonetheless worth it if you’ve been craving the taste of gochugaru in your mouth or curious of what actual Korean food tastes like (by God’s mercy, please avoid On the Bab). My go-to choice, if you’re interested: sundubu jjigae (spicy soft-tofu stew) and a nice bowl of Korean rice (surprisingly hard to find in supermarkets around Whitechapel) with a plate of haemul pajeon (seafood Korean pancake) on the side.
I wish I could describe this place in a humorous or obnoxious way. But I can’t. It simply is a great Punjabi restaurant. It’s famous enough that I don’t need to introduce it myself. Definitely make a reservation in advance and get there on time; you won’t be seated otherwise. You have 90 minutes for the meal—which is plenty, except maybe if you’re French (don’t @ me). The atmosphere is very lively, to say the least. No visit to Tayyabs is complete if there’s no mango lassi on your table (or worse, if there’s any left at the end of the meal).
This Peruvian restaurant located in Shoreditch is a tiny bit pricy; but only because it serves tapas and if you’re a big eater like me, you’ll be tempted to order three dishes at least. However, they are amazing tapas. Things that I enjoyed: the seabass ceviche, the braised pork, the corncake and the salmon. Make a reservation on busy nights. Otherwise, you can always share a giant table with a couple of other customers.
4. Beigel Bake
My last week in London, and my friends were all stunned when I told them I had no idea what Beigel Bake was. Turns out, it was the hugest miss of this semester abroad; to think all the bagels I would’ve had had I known. The best bagels in the world, I was told. And honestly, I was not disappointed. An iconic culinary moment, if I do say so myself. Salt beef bagel for £4.50. It’s not much but it’s all we need. Thick slices of beef. A wonderful bread that’s got a nice bite to it. Pickles and mustard to cut through all that richness (yes, the mustard is “spicy”; a friend from Canada told me that he was used to “regular non-spicy” mustard, and now I understand why some British people think it was a bad idea to let Canada and the US become independent). Open until 11pm on the weekends. Side note, it’s nice to see that amidst the gentrification of Tower Hamlets, some original businesses keep on thriving. 159 Brick Lane E1 6SB (NOT 155).
I’m going to be honest with you, especially if you’ve managed to bear with my utterance until now. There are many burger places around campus. This one just happens to be conveniently located between the Stepney Green tube station and Genesis, the movie theater. Zooming in on the food, TeaZe serves a combination of old favorites known to all like curly fries and original creations such as the burger pictured here which has a beef patty, a hashbrown and a sausage on top. It’s a treat. Stop by if you have the chance (which you probably will if you ever take the tube).
Here’s the thing; you just woke up, it’s Sunday morning—but you and I know it’s almost noon, (let’s not kid ourselves). You’ve been out until dawn (or better, you spent all Saturday evening and night, cramming that last essay you needed to hand in before the deadline). Give yourself some time to rest and to enjoy the simple things in life; meaning, eat. Walk out of the campus, take the 205 to Curtain Road and find your way to Dishoom, an Indian-British fusion place that serves weirdly comforting breakfast food; the Big Bombay breakfast is my favorite, although the bacon egg naan is a very interesting concept that delivers to your palate all its promises. Pro tip (because we’re student, but we still wanna live the fast life while being cheap): get the Home Chai; it’s £2.70, it’s delicious, and they top up your glass every time it’s empty. It’s a place that gives me enough confidence to say words like “lovely” or “aubergines”.
1. Green Pepper
Real talk; if there’s one food joint to be remembered from my semester in London, it’s Green Pepper. Fried chicken, basic menu from £2.80 to £4; you can even get a nice piece of chicken thigh for or the kid’s meal for £1 if you ever become broke like I did. It was here when I had to get to class but suddenly felt hungry. It was here after my training sessions which ended at 10pm. It was here when I was too lazy to buy groceries. It was here when I wanted late-night drunk food. It was here when I craved fried chicken. There are no great pictures that can be taken of what’s available inside (namely because it comes in a basic takeout container), so a meme will have to do, to show you my sentiment. I am not the only one. Seriously, almost shed a tear when the boss remembered my usual order. (By the way, if you like Dixie Chicken from across the street, you probably worship the devil, or indulge in anti-social behaviors such as putting your socks and shoes one foot at a time).