Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Usmania Restaurant, Block 2, Clifton

The term "Usmania Restaurant" brings back many childhood memories for me.

This restaurant has been around since the 1980's, when its only branch operated from Gulshan-e-Iqbal. We used to go out to eat there with extended family once every few years.
Now it has a prominent branch in Clifton, in the area opposite Bilawal House, en route to the Aga Khan Clifton Medical Services Center. 

Steamed Roast is a much-touted speciality.
They claim to be the largest Pakistani restaurant chain. For that, credit is surely due, because they have certainly not gone out of business, despite the increasingly stiff international competition.

As the menu shows, the dominant items Usmania offers are Pakistani and Barbecue dishes.

They have added a sprinkling of continental cuisines as well, such as burgers, sandwiches, steaks and a few other "gora" (English) food items .

Another aerial shot of the Pakistani main course menu.
The prices are not economical, but so what else is new? You can expect to spend the same here as other restaurants of the city, albeit less than the overpriced ones offering gourmet fare. 
The prices shown in the menu are inclusive of all taxes.

There are 2 floors, the upper one for families. Flanking the main eating areas on both, are huge air conditioners. The restaurant sports full glass walls on three sides, and a very clean washroom (always a plus point for our family!).
High chairs are available for the infants. 
All in all, a favorable ambience.

The restaurant decor is old-school Pakistani, well-lit and spacious. 

Every time we have eaten at Usmania, we happened to order barbecue items. 
So this time we decided to try their Chinese menu. 
Chicken Chilli Vegetable - Rs 475 (price inclusive of tax).
The quantity was abundant and the chicken chunks were huge, but the taste was definitely the typical Pakistani-Chinese that you find in every other local Chinese restaurant operated by Pakistani's employing local chefs.

Egg Fried Rice - Rs 250
Ample quantity and very satisfactory. The rice grains were not sticking together, indicating a perfect stir-fry, and tasted awesome (viz. authentic Chinese flavor). 

Brain Masala (a family favorite) - Rs 470
Dense, rich and super-soft -- need I say more? I have had brain masala in many local eateries, and have been disappointed when most serve it floating in limpid, tomato-based, watery curries. 
This kind of perfectly-fried brain masala is getting rarer at restaurants, which is why, in addition to barbecue items and steam roast, brain is what I like ordering most at Usmania

Puri Paratha - Rs 30 (each)
This was huge in size (one was enough, as we were having rice as well) and perfectly done - piping hot and crisp, yet light and fluffy; easy to break off from, yet not flaky and brittle.

Now for the desserts. :) 
Kheer - Rs 150
Don't know if the photograph does justice to it, but this single bowl was quite large for one person to polish off after dinner. We usually share desserts together. 
The kheer was great! Rich, dense and traditionally made to the core. The kind your Ammi makes at home when special guests are coming over. :) 

Tutti Fruiti ice cream cup- Rs 150
Once again, the quantity was more than enough to be desired. In most dessert eateries and bakeries nowadays, you get just one cupcake at this price.
The ice cream flavor and texture was decidedly vintage -- you could tell that it was made from pure, "desi" organic milk, and not the pasteurized, packaged kind (think Baloch ice cream of Boat Basin).

Strawberry and Vanilla 'mix' ice cream cup - Rs 130
The vanilla tasted like the popular desi version - called "Peshawari" ice cream - which is so quintessentially Pakistani, yet getting rarer by the decade. I loved it! The quantity was once again difficult to polish off, even with the children tucking in. 

By the way, we made this restaurant visit over a year ago. I just found time to fish out the draft of this old post to finally finish it off and publish it, so the prices might be higher by now, although I hope not.

Verdict: The authentic barbecue and Pakistani menu at Usmania still retains its taste and quality, which is why this vintage restaurant is still in business. I would highly recommend the tikka, kababs, brain, steam roast (we've had it before) and other local cuisine items at Usmania. The quantities of all items are more than enough for two people (i.e. the dishes at the prices quoted in the menu comprise of double-servings à la carte). 

However, you can find better Chinese at Yuan Tung, so you can easily give that a miss here. 


  1. belated eid mubarak to you too!
    but seriously a post after dhai months? thank kiwiavocado for the push. yeah i know its karachi.
    and whats up with the blurred images? too much editing will definately slow down the blog.
    love the menu shots. or bhaija fry..... ufff bus had kar di....
    waisay aapis ki baat hay, clifton or defense ke ilawa bhi karachi hay. matlab aap ne bu.ns rd, guru mandir, numaish, dastagir (aslam rd? food street?) ko bilkul nazar andaz kiya hua hay...

  2. welcome back, we know u have 3 kids now mashaAllah..must b busy.

    hmmm, brain masala looks good.

    also, for people who live around north. nazimabad, ice n spice behind dilpasand (sweet shop)in block A.near the shell gas-station, has the best Chinese in the area. price is great and the amount of the food (which matters a lot to me) and the quality, is great as well....

    also, at 5 star chowrangi, they sell gr8 brain masala prepared in front of you.

  3. Thank you for your comments.

    I agree that the sprawling Karachi metropolis has such a lovely variety of food on offer, and I'd love to sample the delights available in the more far-off areas, but sadly the insecurity of the city combined with my husband's work hours do not support more distant trysts for our family, especially with the increase in point-blank muggings and shootings. May Allah keep us all safe and in His amaan.

    That being said, we did make a "field trip" (on my husband's insistence) to Hardees last year. I have also reviewed Waheed Kabab House of Burns Road and Cafe Mubarak that is located near IBA, on this blog. We also like the food at Balochistan Sajji, which is located in Gulistan-e-Johar near Johar Mor.

    As for the blurred images, I edited out the faces of the people dining around me in the photos above, out of respect for their privacy. :)

  4. is dafa bhot arsey baad update kiya hai blog?busy thi ya koi aur waja thi?

  5. hear ya loud n clear sis.
    God bless!

  6. i understand. umm, i was wondering, where can i ask you some helpful questions regarding good hospitals n docs in karachi ?

  7. Your effort is really amazing, I've made it a habit of trying out the places you review on here. Every time I want to try some place new, I get on here, see what you review and go there. Keep up the -good- great work.