The midfielder, who spent four years with the Royals before his summer move to Portman Road, put Blues ahead with a crisp finish on 16 minutes.
Town shaded the first-half and had chances to extend the lead but the home side went in level at the break after the ball appeared to go in the net via Tyrone Mings’ back as Adam Le Fondre challenged.
Danny Guthrie won it for the home side with a 25 yarder that took a deflection 15 minutes from time.
A thigh injury meant Aaron Cresswell had to sit out the first game of the season after appearing in every Town match last term, Mings given the left-back berth.
Cole Skuse was handed his debut alongside Luke Hyam, who was declared fit after an injury scare in midweek, the duo soon in the action to combat the threat from Le Fondre outside the Town box.
Former Blues’ loanee, Alex McCarthy, had to deal with a tricky backpass as David McGoldrick chased him down in an opening 10 minutes where both teams were finding each other out.
Tabb almost got in at the nearpost as Town matched the recently relegated from the Premier League Royals at every turn but the midfielder wouldn’t be denied. McCarthy did brilliantly to save from the former Coventry player but when the ball broke to him again, he smashed it low into the net to give Blues the lead just past the quarter hour.
Town threatened a second soon after, McGoldrick robbed Guthrie outside the Reading box and fed Daryl Murphy but McCarthy ended the danger at his nearpost.
Jeff Karacan was yellow carded for a foul on Carlos Edwards on the half hour, with Mings joining him a minute later after catching Chris Gunter.
A terrific ball from Guthrie put Gunter in behind the Town defence but Luke Chambers cleared the threat as Reading looked to get back on level terms but it was Blues who continued to carry the greater threat and Murphy had a chance to lob McCarthy on the edge of the box but didn’t get enough on the ball.
Just before the break though Reading were level, Garath McCleary’s cross from the left was met by a group of players at the far post, with the ball appearing to go in off the back of Mings and it needed Scott Loach to be in the right place to keep out Royston Drenthe’s strike a minute later to send the teams into the break level.
Tabb had the travelling 2600 strong Blue Army on their feet again as the second-half got underway, firing just inches wide, while at the other end a mazy dribble by Guthrie almost saw the midfielder release Le Fondre inside the Blues’ box.
A sweet flowing move between McCleary and Drenthe set up Robson-Kanu, whose back heel went just wide of Loach’s left hand post, while at the other end McGoldrick just failed to get on the end of Murphy’s cross.
McGoldrick was then denied by McCarthy at full length after Tabb had set him up, then Loach was quick off his line to deny Drenthe from close range in a flurry of chances at either end.
It was Reading who got the breakthrough on 75 minutes, the influential Guthrie beating Loach with a 25 yarder that looked to have taken a deflection.
Town responded, Skuse was crowded out in the box, then Carlos Edwards got away from Wayne Bridge but his cross was cleared for a corner, McCarthy claiming the resultant corner.
Town made three changes for the last 10 minutes, with Paul Taylor making his first League appearance in 11 months, Paul Anderson on for his debut and Frank Nouble also joining the action.
Both Anderson and Taylor tested McCarthy in the home goal during six minutes of added on time but couldn’t find a way to rescue a point that perhaps the performance deserved.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Bridge, Robson-Kanu (Williams 67, McCleary, Karacan, Guthrie, Le Fondre (Pogrebnyak 82), Drenthe (McAnuff 79). Subs not used: Federeci, Kelly, Gorkss, Obita.