Gourmet Grub

The worlds over cities are categorized as living habitats on a scale of standard according to their culture, art, life style and food. This is because all of these things constitute together the standard of an ordinary citizens living. We on the other hand have knocked the ordinary out of the equation completely with our exorbitant habits, and deemed the judgment of an entire lifestyle on the focus of where and how to eat while going out.

Nowhere is this picture more obvious than in the concrete jungle of my birth, the cauldron of bubbling humanity by the sea,  Karachi where restaurants are the main areas of entertainment bar a cinema or two and are jammed to capacity every chance we Karachiites can get to empty our coffers to them.

Since the choice is so varied and both restaurants and their different menus are so extensive, I have decided to do a roundup of eateries based on the type of food one would like to have rather than a simple list of the top ten or in this cities case top 80 or so places.

As any gourmet muncher will tell you Karachi’s restaurants tend to be slightly more upscale in nature than in anywhere else in Pakistan. Perhaps it is because Karachiites are easier to fleece as they think they are more sophisticated or perhaps it is just that their tastes are more discerning, either way prepare for a major blow before going out on town here, at least to the tune of 1500 rs per head easily.

Now that the official warnings and disclosures have been seen to, let me take you to the best place to have appetizers in this town which would be none other than Roasters, available now in two different locations in town and catering to all our tastes with the best way to have appetizers in a greasy big quantity filled way. Whether it is just plain old French fries or something more filling like Buffalo wings or chicken strips Roasters old style charm and home made taste will never leave you wanting, in many cases you may not even have space for a meal after doing appetizers here, their soups come with bread in a bowl as well.

Look I do not know about you but where the main course is concerned I certainly prefer the oriental variety to desi food or burger type meals, of which I would certainly recommend Gun smokes burgers if that is your taste, but if you want to have a mean Kung pao chicken or the old Manchurian favorite you need to look no further than Avaris Dynasty restaurant where the Chinese food is just delicious and although it is more upscale than many other Chinese joints in Karachi the quality of the cuisine is just too good. I suggest you try the schezuan chicken or Peking style duck here or go with the tried and tested jumbo fried prawns and beef in oyster sauce. The best thing about this restaurant is the fact that even if a dish does not suit you the guy behind the white hat is a maestro and can whip up your own blend of whatever you choose from the menu.

For other oriental varieties like my favorite “Thai Food” I would go for the newest of the bunch namely Swasdee sitting in a quiet corner of the D.H.A area on Kahayabane Shahbaz where the last time I was there we started out with “Meing Kham” This do-it-yourself starter requires the diner to stuff salad leaves with a range of condiments including peanut, chilly, onion, dried shrimp and roasted coconut. Then we had some Chicken Satay and the chicken melts in your mouth I kid you not. For our main course we had Thai Red Snapper in a delicious signature sauce. If I was to describe the combination of a fish done to perfection and the herbs and sauces along with it as mind blowing I would be making the understatement of this year.  Since we are embroiled in the orient I should also tell you that if you choose to and have the pocket for it, a trip to this town would be wasted if you did not sink your teeth into the California  sushi rolls at Sakura the Japanese eatery on top of the pearl continental hotel here. If you are of the lighter eating variety try the hameed haroon salad there as well, something you will not get on the official menu.

Along with every perfect dinner and specially the hot kinds I like to devour whether it be Pakistani or oriental there has to be the perfect assortment of drinks to keep the volcano inside cool. Karachi has a number of cafes serving really fancy drinks but to the best of my knowledge the most soothing drinks are the fire &ice at the Cafe Koel, the Thai iced tea at swasdee which I pretend comes in three glass batches and the aromatic but cold frosted lemon that I tried at the “secret recipe” recently. Of all three I would definitely have to go with the frosted lemon drink of Secret recipe as it tasted not coconutish which most white mock tails seem to lean towards but a perfect and cold blend of the richness of cream frosting and the tang of lime iced.

If you dear reader are right now set on the fact that I have covered my specialty you have no clue where this scribes weakness lies and that is the last part of any meal or the dessert section of the menu. With again a plethora of choice available in all kinds of hot and cold gourmet desserts I have to still bow my head down to the chocolate Indulgence cake at “Secret Recipe” the chocolate layered cake of Nando’s and the different varieties of melt in your mouth cheesecakes available at Cafe Ciao. Look trust me I have had my share of chocolate mousse and wannabe tiramisus all over town, but the just feel right cold sweetness of a delicate sponge cake with the proper cream icing just gets me every single time. I would certainly and can spend many a meal at a restaurant just because it has the best desserts not only because I have a sweet tooth, and a little sugar in the family I might add but it is really hard for a Karachiite to find the best dessert place in this day and age, if you know what I am biting at.

Last but not the least would have to be the end of almost every dinner of mine, which is a nice cup of coffee, for which to me there is still only one place to go to in town and that is Expresso’s at either of its locations, I prefer the zamzama one myself which is a bit small on space but still makes up for it in atmosphere by the heaps, with wifi on standby and papers of the day strewn about. It’s like my living room with a gourmet coffee machine installed! Well perhaps a bit cleaner.

Although by now I have probably turned up a few noses and may see the backs of a few maitre D’s at posh eateries here when I try to make a booking in my name, I would certainly say that this would be the review closest to my heart, of the food I really like and the places I would recommend in this city to anyone. However you can do the old Italian/french/wine & cheese tour everyone does for 3 months and then choose to agree with me later.

Published in “The friday times” on 7th Aug 2009

  1. What a delightful roundup of the subject that is close to a Pakistani’s heart…food!! I am most definitely checking out a few of these places in my next Karachi trips! Thank you!!

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