Thursday, December 4, 2014

Biryani Centre, 26th Street, Defence phase 5


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Biryani Centre is a vintage fixture on main 26th Street in DHA phase 5, just behind the prominent petrol pump, a location that is also known as Tauheed commercial.


It now has reasonably clean and spacious dining halls for dine-in. 


Different types of fried fish have been recently added to the menu. 


Like I said, clean and spacious, with prominent menus on the walls. 


There is no air conditioning. 

And stray cats might stealthily graze your legs during the meal (which we don't really mind). 


The whole menu at a glance. Economical is the word!

Click here to get a closer look at the menu.


The recently added seafood menu items. 


Single chicken biryani - Rs 140


Fish finger, single plate - Rs 180


Puri paratha's and chapati's


Regular/single serving of chicken haleem, with accompanying garnishes- Rs 90


As you can see, the prices are easy on the wallet. The sum total of this bill equals the cost of a single-person meal at one of the foreign food franchises. 

Verdict: The food is really good, especially the fish! This is dhaba-style, no-frills desi-food dining at its traditional best.

The Pakistani culinary experience can never be complete without our quintessential, old-school, timeless favorites: biryani and haleem

All I can say is that I'm glad Biryani Centre (and it's lesser known fraternal twin, Haleem Centre) is still thriving after all these years, at the same location, without having been upgraded to a "classier" (and hence more expensive) eatery.

Contact numbers: +92-21-35838582, +92-21-35865137

Friday, November 28, 2014

Steak Escape, Badar Commercial Area, Defence phase 5

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Another foreign franchise has recently opened its doors in Karachi.
Ohio-originated Steak Escape recently launched its first outlet in Badar commercial area, DHA phase 5. 


The outlet is a stone's throw away from Bundoo Khan and Student Biryani


The well-lit eatery has two floors: a ground level and a basement. 


The signature logo and worldwide locations of Steak Escape are displayed boldly outside the outlet.


A burger or 6-inch Philly Cheesesteak sandwich will cost you ~Rs 450. If you want fries and (bottomless) drink along with it, the price will go up to Rs 600.

Click on the above photograph and enlarge it to see the menu. Else, click here to take a look at the whole menu on their international website, or visit their local Facebook page. A local website is also reportedly coming soon.


An added bonus: you can watch your meat being cooked and your sandwich being assembled in front of your eyes.


Two foot long sandwiches ready to be served.


A burger ready to be served, along with a foreground shot of relishes, sauces and other ingredients.


A better look at the ammo. Subway much? :)


The basement is spacious and well-lit.


There are booths and table-chair combos.


 A play area for the children.

Their logo in bold letters.

Don't appreciate photographs of people (and non-locals at that) on the walls, but the other pictures are good.


Mushroom Swiss burger with grilled chicken.


A closeup shot of the insides of a Triple Cheese beef sandwich, with egg (Rs 50 more).

Lemon chicken tenders and fries.

Frankly speaking, I didn't find the Swiss burger and the chicken tenders anything to write home about. My kids concur.
The Triple Cheese philly sandwich however, was delicious, albeit rather heavy due to its cheese and egg content.
I didn't like their bread as much, perhaps because I am used to the whole-wheat variety at Subway, after eating which white-flour bread (refined carbs) don't appeal so much any more.


The staff assembling food in front of your eyes. Note the gloves and shower cap like hair coverings? Appreciate the high hygiene standards.

The industrial kitchen is sparkling and spotless nowadays, since the eatery is still new.

Verdict: If you like all-American food, typically personified by big burgers and fries, you'll probably enjoy Steak Escape.

To me, dining here seemed to be a combination of Subway and Fatburger. I do try to educate my children about what food is healthy and what is not, however, whenever we have food like this.

As long as one is consciously aware that expensive junk food eating should be kept limited to the occasional occurrence and not developed into a frequently indulged habit, a philly cheesesteak or old school cheeseburger never killed anyone.

Try it out, even just to know that you can now easily have the burgers that are served across the Atlantic, right here in Karachi, but only via the better, halal route that employs the local workforce and supports the local economy.

Kolachi, Beach Avenue (Do Darya), DHA phase 8


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Who hasn't heard of Kolachi, the Spirit of Karachi, a seafront restaurant located at the Do Darya strip of eateries in Defence phase 8? Apparently no one, or so it seems. 


 Do Darya can be reached by going along Beach Avenue or Seaview Road, the main road in front of Clifton beach.

It can also be reached by going straight along Khayaban-e-Shaheen, passing by Creek Vista apartments.

Kolachi is the second restaurant in line when arriving at Do Darya via this route. The roads along this way are quite dark and desolate, mind you, but don't let that deter you. :)


Above is a shot of the main foyer area of Kolachi.



There is a prayer place (musalla) for men and a jumping castle for the little ones on site.


All restaurants on Do Darya are dimly lit and open-air: exclusively alfresco dining.

The lighting and decor is unique at every restaurant, with ample use of wood and cobblestones.


Kolachi has both wooden chairs and couches for dining.


Restaurants at Do Darya all look out over the sea, very close to the water. The above photograph just doesn't do justice to the actual experience of looking out over the water and clear skies at night from the wooden balconies.


Crabs, small shoals of fish, seagulls, trawlers, the moon and stars - all can be spotted easily from any restaurant at Do Darya, which can allow diners to relax by getting temporarily away from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan, traffic-smog-ridden city life and enjoy the scenic outdoors in peace - a rarity in this sprawling seaport city.


Once again, the photograph doesn't do the full moon justice.
But hey, I tried to capture a nice moment. :)

 

First off, Kolachi is not a cheap place to dine. The prices shown in the menu are exclusive of 17% tax. 

 Their main specialties are barbecue, kababs, karahi's and handi's.


The portion/serving size of handi's, kababs, and karahi's at Kolachi is more than enough for two hungry adults.


Pastas and seafood.

Almost every food item is cooked to perfection and served neatly/impeccably.

In fact, dining at Kolachi reminds me a lot of BBQ Tonite: the prices, food quality, focus on desi food/meaty BBQ fare, housekeeping/hygiene standards, and service excellence, all are at par at both restaurants,-- at least in my opinion. 

 

However, even though meat is clearly their specialty, they also have Chinese and Thai food on offer.


Steaks and Lebanese entrees as well.


Expect to easily pay Rs 1100 per head when you dine at Kolachi, especially if you intend to have their ice creams as well.


Their focus on serving only hot flatbreads is commendable. A waiter (or two, in case of larger groups) is always around to make sure your breads are replenished with hot ones.


Chicken White Karahi (half) - Rs 900

Well-marinated and tender chicken pieces sauteed in a creamy white sauce, accentuated by the aromatic dash of color and spices brought by the sliced large green chillies.

How was it? Well, let's just say the wok was wiped clean with the flatbreads and not a morsel was left over. :)



Kolachi House Pasta -Rs 600

The tagliatelle pasta strips were floating in a rich, creamy, and fresh Alfredo sauce.
The serving size was enough for one very hungry adult, or two moderately hungry ones.
Thumbs up!

Speaking as a major pasta aficionado, I loved this dish, especially the grilled chicken julienne on top.


Plain Kulfi - Rs 180


Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream -Rs 180



Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream -Rs 180


I know it's obvious that we all were in the mood for ice creams the night we went this month (in November, when it was still hot).

Once again, two adults can easily share one of these ice creams. The strawberry cheesecake flavor was especially good.

Verdict: At Kolachi, the high quality of service is their distinguishing quality, which keeps customers coming back again and again. The whole experience will make you feel cared for and respected, from the time you enter the premises, till you leave. They highly value your feedback about their service and food.

I can explain it better this way: after moving out from home, to attend college or to start married life, when you visit your parents' home for the first time and sit down for a meal, how are you treated? Can you relate? Well, that is how they treat you at Kolachi, especially if you visit on a weeknight, and arrive early, before the maddening crowds start thronging the place.

I always used to prefer going to the buffet restaurant that is located right next to Kolachi, called Mirage (dinner buffet there is Rs 1300+tax), because I value privacy, peace and quiet instead of crowdedness and noise.

Here are a couple of photos of Mirage restaurant below:


Main ground floor of Mirage Restaurant.


Mirage buffet serves over 50 unique dishes, including soups, salads, snacks, and desserts.

I would wonder each time why there were such incessant crowds and long waiting queues next door at Kolachi. Now I know. It's how customers are treated there, because at first visit, you will probably think that there is nothing different or out-of-this-world about the food they offer.

But when you leave, the way the managers will come to ask you how your experience was, if you have any complains, and the way they'll listen to your feedback, will make you feel valued as a customer more than at any other restaurant.

Kolachi is like BBQ Tonite all the way, in my opinion. Succulent and expertly-cooked meat served impeccably at its desi best!

Kolachi contact numbers: 021-32003628 , 03032766571 (reservations are highly recommended).
Note: Dining at Do Daryai is especially enjoyable during the winter months, since there is no air conditioning in all the open-air restaurants there, so alfresco dining next to the sea is amplified in experience due to the (fleeting) wind chill factor.