East Ham’s restaurants are easily some of London’s most diverse, in terms of finding homestyle food from various parts of the globe. A short walk around some of the main thoroughfares, from High Street to Barking Road, will bring up plenty of unassuming cafes and storefronts which yield culinary delights that are rarely found elsewhere in the city.Read More
Where to Eat in East Ham
Incredible Kerala cuisine, Taiwanese bubble tea, Sri Lankan kothu, and more
Arguably the best Kerala restaurant in London, Thattukada serves a variety of dishes all spiced with homemade blends, sourced from India’s Garden State itself. The result is complex, fragrant curries and roasts, mopped up with breads like buttery parottas and spongey appam. The fries are renowned; crispy chicken and squidgy mussels are a highlight, prepared with tinsel-fine slivers of glistening shallot and curry leaves. The para pollichathu, a large white fish, generously rubbed with spiced tomato paste and steamed whole in banana leaves is worth the visit alone.
Somewhat of an unsung hero, churning out traditional North Indian classics for almost a decade. The dum Hyderabadi biryani is the star of the show; silky layers of aromatic rice and moist lamb arrive decorated with sweet strands of crispy onion. The mirchi ka salan, fat green chillies wallowing in a rich, nutty gravy and the achari gosht, an opulent lamb curry that hums with nuanced pickle are equally worth a try. Also delicious is the murgh malai kebab, tender cubes of gently blistered chicken, singing with citrus flavour, which fulfil the menu’s bold promise that they will, quote: “melt in ur mouth.”
Exposed brickwork in East Ham used to be synonymous with building sites, not cafés. Carpathia, with its cosy interior and lovely lattes, gives a truly wholesome offering: the star of this little place is its traditional Romanian menu. Friendly staff, a fully stocked Romanian deli and a roster of daily specials are a brilliant introduction to the cuisine. Try the beautifully seasoned grilled pork collar, served with homemade fries, or the ciroba de burta — a rich soup, speckled with tripe and peppers, galvanised by a side of pickled green tomatoes.
Royal Chef London
Despite the nondescript name, and the even more nondescript storefront, kothu, a pan-Sri Lankan staple is the specialty of this particular eatery. Leftover parotta and puttu, a cylinder of ground rice and coconut, are hacked into pieces mixed with egg, vegetables and curry sauce into a multi-textural jumble which is packed with flavour. The outstanding seafood puttu kothu comes studded with deep fried anchovies, adding waves of fishy saltiness which mingle with chilli and hits of prawns and squid. Idiyappam, strong hoppers and an unbeatable £3.50 breakfast deal are all supporting reasons to give Royal Chef a go.
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Red Lion E6
Red Lion E6 is a neighbourhood blessing. The huge, partially covered garden, complete with table games, provides a brilliant backdrop to idle away the time, while inside, a solid selection of craft beers on tap rivals many other East Ham options. The pizzas are the strong point; options like margherita and the diavola, with its spicy sausage and chilli, are a compelling addition for London’s purists. More unusual possibilities are not to be snubbed, however. ‘The Geezer,’ a pie with salt beef, gherkins and mustard is surprisingly good, flavours mingling like a gigantic reuben sandwich. With quizzes, Sunday roasts and live music events, Red Lion is slated to be a lasting part of the community — as well as a destination.
Central Park Cafe
Artisanal breads and local East End produce are a focus at this homely cafe, alongside a marvellous selection of homemade cakes and pastries: the strawberry and rose custard doughnuts, when available, are a must try. On the savoury side, a watermelon, feta and olive salad is the right balance of sweet and salty, while the broad bean, pea and mint option — mixed with baby potatoes — is quietly outstanding. With (slightly) longer opening hours on the weekend, a trip to the park would not be complete without a wander inside.
Sindu Mahal Restaurant
Fragrant fish curries, puttu kothu, and devilled meats are just some of the items to order on this restaurant’s expansive menu, yet another of East Ham’s outstanding institutions for south Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. It is excellent value, with most dishes under a fiver, meaning this is certainly a place to revisit time again. The king prawn curry is intricate and layered — a perfect foil to fluffy parotta; towering seafood puttu kothu, with pieces of squid and tiny prawns, is equally brilliant. Elsewhere, pieces of tender fried chicken dyed a vivid shade of red hum with heat, spice, and salt.
Kuramoh Lounge Pan African Restaurant
There is nothing quite like the sweet, clean taste of freshly caught fish. And now this particular luxury is available in east London. Nigerian restaurant Kuramoh Lounge offers a “choose your own” catfish special. The experience may not be for everyone but this huge stew, pulsing with simmered, spiced tomato and a whisper of chilli is one of the best dishes along this stretch of Barking Road. That is not to say the other dishes here are not excellent; ewedu, a vibrant green soup of jute leaf, with a rich umami tang galvanises pounded yam. And asun, tender cubes of lamb marinated in pepper is lip-smackingly hot and moreish, chased down with bottles of cool stout.
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Crispy dosa, pillowy idli and crunchy vada abound at this branch of the popular Tamil food chain. A favourite for its vast vegetarian menu, food here is always fresh and piping hot, making it a mecca for solo diners and families yearning for the comforting flavours of south India. The fresh juices and lassis are also delicious, with several options available according to seasonal variety.
It is quite easy to walk straight past this restaurant, as inconspicuous as it is on the traffic-strewn stretch of Barking Road that it sits on. A venture inside, however, doesn’t disappoint. The menu is a showcase of Nigerian classics, all made to order by the proprietor who goes out of her way to make the dining experience a memorable one. It is a serene pleasure to snack on beef suya, awash with black pepper, and tender cubes of smoked turkey while watching the Nigerian news on TVC. Fried croaker comes with some of the finest jollof rice in London, served with soft grilled plaintain and a layered pepper gravy which is a perfect balance to the fruit’s starchy sweetness. Okro, an okra soup, is thick and beefy - studded with hunks of meat and tripe, eaten with eba, or pounded cassava. Tall bottles of potent 7.5% Guinness add a robust kick, a perfect accompaniment to the feast.
Bubble Tea Bar
The usual breakfast items are available here, such as eggs, toast and pastries, although the reason to visit lies with the eponymous Taiwanese drink. An array of different flavoured teas mixed with ‘bubbles’ (cooked pearls of tapioca) are available in flavours including jasmine, matcha and papaya.
Mushtaqs Sweet Centre
This small confectioners specialises in traditional mithai that goes beyond the standard jalebi and gulab jamun. Barfi, a fudge-like sweet made of condensed milk ghee is made with traditional buffalo milk. This is the only shop in London that it is now possible to find buffalo milk used as the key ingredient, imbuing the sweets with a rich creaminess — perfect on their own, or as a pleasing dessert.