Friday, October 31, 2014

Zameer Ansari Kabab House, Alamgir Road

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In a recent article in DAWN, about desi food in Karachi, I read that a Zameer Ansari Kabab House on Alamgir Road offers some good meaty stuff. 

So off we went on a recent slow evening, and our search brought us to the ZA Kabab Place that is located right next to the "Quetta Hotel" that offers a very famous variety of lachchay daar paratha's with omelet style eggs as early morning breakfast, which we have tried once or twice.

A review of that is intended in future, insha'Allah. Taking photos and simultaneously balancing plates of food whilst seated in your car is not easy. And sitting on the rickety roadside plastic tables and chairs outside Quetta Hotel on Alamgir Road, among thronging crowds of mostly men, is also not easy for a family with small children.

Anyhow, hygiene and cleanliness in this neighborhood is clearly not a top priority. You'll need to skip and hop over strewn bits of trash on the road, and then climb some really steep metal stairs to get to this "family hall" on the first floor of Zameer Ansari Kabab House.

It is well aired and neat, to give due credit. There is a standby generator and a huge "desert cooler" (Lahore style) in a corner on this floor.
However, don't be surprised that there is no air conditioning.

For some reason, there were a few huge, honeybee-type winged insects flying around, which made us somewhat scared. Thankfully, they'd gravitate towards the naked light bulbs and scorch themselves to death.
My kids were more entertained by them than scared. Heh! :)
Never a dull moment when eating out in Karachi, eh?

The menu, and their phone numbers.

White and red, both kinds of meat are on offer.
However, not all items on the menu are always available. The waiter told us that only the items visible on the left side of the menu (in the above photo) were available.

Nothing on the so-called "VIP menu" (visible above right), was available either.
Prices of mutton dishes are surprisingly reasonable, aren't they?
That none of these mutton dishes were available, was rather disappointing though.

Apparently they also have kabab rolls and halwa.

Zameer Ansari also caters Delhi wala's food for parties. :) 

Beef Bihari Boti a.k.a Bihari Kababs - Rs 176

Chutney and onions, complimentary.

Chicken Reshmi Kababs - Rs 220
Soft and spicy, these were melt-in-your-mouth tender and served piping hot, straight off the coals. 

Chicken Gola Kababs - Rs 220
A bit more spicy but just as tender as the other chicken kababs.
The mince inside was so fine, that it stuck to the plate and to our finger tips.

Puri Paratha's

All the food at a glance, besides the chapati's that we also ordered.

This was the star of the evening. Even though I am not much of a beef eater, these were totally out of this world! Better than even the Bihari Boti that I've had at Al-Kabab.

All in all, a no-frills, delicious meat-eating tryst with utmost simplicity.

Every bite of the kababs chewed with the crunchy, flaky puri paratha's, dabbed in chutney and the raw onions, was pure desi delight! 

This whole meal cost no more than a single entree offered by the fancier, "burgher", fine-dining places in Karachi.

Verdict: The service was not up to the mark, and our order got to us quite late, as just one (clearly weary and overworked) waiter was catering to the whole floor, which had quickly filled up with families comprising of 4-5 people at each table.

Aside from that, and the few scary bees flying around, the food was awesome! This Kabab house obviously does great business, and has a loyal clientele that keeps coming back for their great food.

So if you don't mind compromising on ambiance and cleanliness to partake in some great-tasting, affordable local desi fare, you'd love eating here, insha'Allah.

Keep a small insect repellent spray with you, just in case.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pane & Amore, Zamzama 5th Lane

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

There was a time when gourmet cupcakes were a thing synonymous with The Cakery.

However, despite the efforts of many local eateries, home-based businesses, and international food chains such as Cinnabon, to take over the cupcake domain, I think that it currently remains conquered hook, line and sinker by Pane & Amore, a bakery and cafe that has recently relocated from it's previous location on Seher Commercial, to Zamzama's 5th commercial lane.

As you enter Pane & Amore, an indoor staircase takes you upstairs to the first floor, where the main dine-in area is located.

Indoor plants can never go wrong in my book!

The interior of the bakery cum cafe is dimly lit.

Blue-colored glass panes, a cobbled floor and more leafy indoor plants keep the atmosphere homely and cozy.

There are no sofas or couches, only white-colored tables and chairs.

We deliberately chose to sit on the balcony, which is what had attracted us to the bakery in the first place. Besides the famous cupcakes of course.

The potted-plant-skirted verandah of Pane & Amore is visible from main Zamzama boulevard.
Though there are pedestal fans kept on the sides to keep the verandah cool and airy, I think the best time to really enjoy sitting and dining here is during the (coming) winter and spring months, when an air-conditioner is not needed to keep the excessive heat at bay.

We chose to sit on this corner table. The sounds of the Zamzama traffic from below were more than clearly audible, though. It was definitely not quiet.

Stitches clothing store is right opposite Pane & Amore.

The view from the balcony when looking out over main Zamzama.

The menu was not even clear enough to read with the naked eye, let alone through a camera lens!

I hope you can still read some of the items, though.
Standard cafe fare is available: soups, salads, sandwiches, coffees, and the icing on the cake that we went for: cupcakes! Pun unintended. :)

The coffee menu is a bit more elaborate than that at most of the other other cafes.
E.g. I have no idea what a "shakerato" is. Heh!

All day breakfast - the new rage everywhere - is on offer here too. All prices in the menu are exclusive of taxes.
You can avail their deal and have a hot coffee with a cupcake for ~Rs 450.

The specials of the day were written on a blackboard in the balcony. We went on a Saturday evening, which I wouldn't recommend, as the traffic noise from down below was too deafening!

The indoor dessert counter had many sweet delights on display. I have no idea what these were. Your guess is as good as mine.

The specialty of Pane & Amore: Cupcakes!

Chocolate Ganache, Red Velvet, Vanilla, Coffee/Mocha, and Caramel flavors are on offer.
Priced at Rs 160 + tax each.

Does this French Toast with Banana Compote look delectable to you?

Well, looks are deceiving, because it wasn't.

The toasts were totally bland and dry inside i.e. they hadn't soaked the milk and egg mixture enough before being fried. And the banana compote topping them was bitter.

Next time we'll probably not be adventurous and stick to just the cupcakes, like the kids did.

Caramel cupcake upfront, and Double Chocolate cupcake in the background.

The winner, hands down: Chocolate Ganache.
Everyone thought this was the best one.
The Red Velvet was quite okay too. It's inside was chewy and rich, and the white cream cheese frosting on top of it was extremely light and fluffy.

Tea to go with the cupcake, for Rs 90

Verdict: Our little tea-and-cupcake family party ended up being a bit too noisy because of the time that we chose to visit Pane & Amore (Saturday evenings are peak business hours at Zamzama), but their cupcakes are surely not-to-be-missed as an occasional treat, especially if you have children.

The indoor dining area was too dimly lit for our taste, so I'd recommend visiting Pane & Amore just to have a cupcake with tea or coffee on their picturesque balcony. The staff at the bakery was nothing but polite and quick to serve.

Judging by the French Toast, though, I'd avoid the other dessert items on their menu. Let's hope they improve the quality of all the other items that they are offering on their menu over time, because they sure seem to have mastered the cupcake domain!