Monday, January 13, 2014

Lal Qila Restaurant, main Shahrah-e-Faisal

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Lal Qila is a famous buffet restaurant located on main Shahrah-e-Faisal.
The whole structure has been designed as a fort and constructed with red bricks, hence the name.
We visited it over a year ago, so this review is very late. But better late than never, as they say.

For the current rates of buffet lunch, hi-tea and dinner, please visit the Lal Qila website.

The massive wooden entrance doors lead into the main reception area.

The compact seating area at the reception has been designed traditionally.

Once they get the go-ahead, the customers enter the main restaurant area, which is open-air.

There is an indoor dining room and a play area for little children (both not pictured above) as well. 

An artificial fountain and waterfall on one side provide the pleasant sound of running water - a real bonus for the outdoor diners.

This red-brick building next to the entrance/exit houses the children's play area and office (not pictured).
The play area is designed completely in wood as a small fort! Very nice idea. Children were delighted.

For lunch, cloth awnings are temporarily erected to provide shade to the diners who choose to dine outside.

Since we decided to have lunch here on a weekday during winter, we chose to dine alfresco.

The washroom (where we go to wash our hands) was very clean, but in dire need of some maintenance and repair.
Notice how the mirrors and tissue-box are done up to match the decor of the restaurant?

There is a sitting area on an upstairs terrace as well, which these stairs lead to.
It was not open for lunch.

The drapes/awnings don't look all that elegant for a high-end restaurant, yeah, and they hide the grandeur of the red-brick architecture of the 'fort' juxtaposed against the blue sky during the day, but one must admit that they are direly needed to shield diners from the intense midday heat of the sun (even during winters!).

The view of the "fort" above the awnings.

There is a central 'square' that houses the food area, where customers can help themselves to the food from large bronze/copper-colored pots.

Prawn Tempura
Fried fresh for diners.

Fried Potatoes
I really have no idea what these were or why they were there?!

The BBQ station is off to one side.
 It serves tikka and kababs in chicken and beef, barbecued live.

Live BBQ: Chicken seekh kababs, Chicken Tikka, and Beef seekh kababs, in that order.

The salad, sauce/chutney and dessert bar.
It looks messy in the picture above, but that is the customers' fault. Everything in the salad bar was very fresh.

My child's plate (from top right): prawn tempura, pasta salad, and a piece of fish

Clockwise from top right:
Fried Fish, Prawn Tempura, Chinese Egg Fried Rice, Chicken in Sweet and Sour Sauce, Beef in Black Pepper Sauce, and Vegetable Thin Mien

Samandri Heera - boneless fried fish

There were handi's with Haleem and Nihari, along with their accompanying garnishes.
There were Chapli Kababs being fried live as well. 

Fried fish and prawn tempura again, with sauces (such as tartar sauce) from the salad bar.

From left: Chicken Biryani, Aaloo BhujiaCholay (partitioned in the same container) and a tray for fresh Puri's

At this station, the chefs also knead, roll out, and deep-fry fresh puri's and kachori's

The dough balls for the puri's, and a very orange-colored Suji ka Halwa

Khubani ka Meetha, Jelly Mousse, and Chickpea salad

Potato salad, Arabic Labban, Oriental salad and Pasta salad

No traditional buffet at a Pakistani restaurant would be complete without this popular dessert: hot and tender Gulab Jamans floating in their oozy sweet syrup.

BBQ Kababs, Fried Rice and Black Pepper Beef.

Doesn't the barbecued mince look delectable?

Hot n Sour Soup with chicken and shrimps

Soft drinks are provided in cans

A tall glass of sweet lassi for Rs 70
Titled as "Dil ki Thandak" on the menu, this was the best lassi I have ever had! And I am not even a big fan of the drink. 
We all shared this huge glass of fresh wholesomeness. 

Ice cream, khubani ka meetha, and jelly

Lab-e-Shireen, Khubani ka meetha, and gulab jaman

Verdict: I think the above photographs speak amply in favor of the quality and freshness of the food. Sorry if they made you drool on an empty stomach!

The floor of the restaurant was not very clean (I suppose because it is open-air?) but everything else was more than satisfactory, especially the quality of the food.

I would recommend going to Lal Qila for lunch instead of dinner, because at the latter time, the entire restaurant is extremely crowded, especially on weekends, and the platters empty very quickly (taking time to be replenished), especially the salad bar. There are long queues in front of the fried items.

We should try to support our local restaurants in addition to, if not more than, foreign food franchises, because they are making a mark for themselves by consistently providing a quality dining experience and catering services in the face of stiff international competition, rising inflation, and a struggling economy faced with political chaos.

Kudos to Lal Qila for not just surviving, but thriving, in the local food-scape of Karachi.