Saturday, January 25, 2014

Burger King, main Seaview Road

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The silence after the storm - oh how peaecful it is. :)
I am so happy that the hype around the launch of Burger King Pakistan is finally over!

There are no long queues and crowds outside the Burger King outlets any more, as you can see.
Pictured above is the BK outlet located on main Sea View Road or Beach Avenue, right next to McDonald's.

Few eateries have managed to thrive previously in this very building (such as the Dip Shop, KFC and Ponderosa); let's see if this outlet of BK has a better fate.

Once again, I found myself at this outlet of Burger King a couple of months ago only because someone else in the family wanted to have the famous Whopper. Yawn.
Actually, truth be told, I too wanted to try out their onion rings. :)

Thankfully, we were able to place our order immediately. Cue: no queues. :)
You can see that the Angus SteakHouse Combo is priced at Rs 650, the Whopper Combo at Rs 495, and the Chicken Royale at Rs 540.

Too bad I couldn't take a better shot to capture the complete menu of Burger King (by the way, isn't it about time they launched their own website? They are still operating on social media via a Facebook page).

 Here is a closeup shot of the above photo, to help you see the prices.

Basically, every burger combo at Burger King will cut you back Rs 400-600.
Lone, single-patty burgers cost ~Rs 295 each (without fries and drink).

The Burger King outlet on main Sea View Road has two upper floors where customers can dine. I think there is a basement too, but I'm not sure.

The view from the first floor ↑.

The booth style seating arrangement on the top floor.

Spacious and well-lit.
Unlike Hardees, which is still conspicuously missing an outlet on this side of the Clifton Bridge, Burger King has done well to not compromise on space for it's dine-in customers.

We ordered two combo meals.

Single patty Fish n Crisp (fish burger).

A small and crispy fish fillet sitting on mayo and topped with lettuce occupies the inside of the burger.
A nice and light burger, especially a good option for those who do not like beef.

The soft and piping hot BK Fries are always a hit.
Even when I had Burger King for the first time in my life, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia (back in 2002), I loved their light French Fries the most.

The Whopper! Enough said. :P
You can see how fresh the sesame-seed-topped bun is.

Tomato, lettuce and sliced onions top a beef patty.

A combo meal at Burger King (burger, fries and drink) costs Rs 450 per head, if you skip additional sides and desserts.

Verdict: I think Burger King should launch it's own website, for starters. It has done well with it's hype-creating, media-frenzy-driven launch in Pakistan with the simultaneous opening up of multiple, spacious outlets. It got the initial market share, now let's see if it goes the distance with quality that garners long-term customer satisfaction. 

Will we be finding stale lettuce and flat, crumbling buns in the burgers at Burger King after, say, 4 years,- just like we now often do at KFC and McDonald's? Time will tell.

For now, Burger King sure seems to be enjoying it's fifteen minutes of fame in Karachi.

Khausa, main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, Defence phase 6

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

 Ah, the quick entry and exit of high-end restaurants from the diverse food spectrum of Karachi! Restaurants open up and close down in the blinking of an eye, or so it seems. 

I once visited Khausa Restaurant on main Tariq Road, and really liked it.
Well, there is some good news and bad news about it.
The bad news first: it has closed down.

The good news: it has now opened up on main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, a stone's throw away from Desi and Gon Pacci

The establishment is spread out on more than one level, with a half-floor (sort of like a verandah) constructed above this downstairs portion within the premises.
The decor is more plush and elegant than the one that this basement restaurant had on Tariq Road.

There are 3 tables on the above floor, where we chose to dine. 

Actually, there is some more, somewhat-bad news. 

One of the better things I liked about the Khausa on main Tariq Road, was it's economical prices. Check out the old prices here (before they remove this jpeg, heh).

 The money on fuel that you'll save on the jaunt to Tariq Road will now be spent on the food at this new outlet, because the prices at Khausa have been conveniently doubled.

Yes, doubled. Ouch. :-|

I love Khau Suey, so I ordered the Burmese version (the one with yellow curry) with prawns.  

Khausa offers five types of curry that you can choose for the Khau Suey that you want to have: Classic Creamy, Coco Curry, Stir Fried, Yellow Curry, and the more expensive Mohinga Soup (whatever that is).

The base of curry and Khau Suey noodles will cost you Rs 345, but if you want a topping of meat curry on it (and who doesn't? :P), such as chicken, beef or prawns, there will be extra charges of Rs 145 - Rs 245.

So you'll be shelling out approximately Rs 500 or more per serving of Khau Suey at this restaurant, which is clearly above the going rate of Rs 350-Rs 450 that you can get per serving of Khau Suey at Simple Dimple or PepperLime

The consolation? The ample quantity, high quality, and freshness of the food. I had no complains about it. The service and ambiance has improved a big notch as well.

Every order of Khau Suey comes with this tray of crunchy, tasty and spicy accompaniments. 

Once you start eating the Khau Suey mixed with these lovely garnishes, this is what your plate will look like. Yum!

Chicken Chow Mien - Rs 325

Awesome flavors and freshness. You can see for yourself, eh?

The menu has a comprehensive Thai cuisine section, a few Chinese dishes, and some other additions as well (check out the whole menu on the restaurant's EatOye page), although the sandwiches/burgers have been removed.  

Verdict: if you like Khau Suey, you will probably enjoy the offerings at Khausa. 

While the economical prices and long car ride have been bid adieu with the restaurant's relocation to main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz (the head waiter told us that the lack of parking space in front of Khausa on main Tariq Road was the main reason for the restaurant's shut down there), the diners have gained in terms of ambiance, variety and freshness/quality of the food/ingredients. 

The customers that could previously not drive out all the way to Tariq Road and meander through it's heavy traffic, now have a nice place to sit down and eat Khau Suey.

Oh how I wish that everyone on this earth could afford to eat good, clean, and delicious food like this! :-(

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.