Karachi’s veteran restaurants – where old is gold!
The metropolis is not only as popular amongst foodies as Lahore claims to be but boasts of some of the best places in the country that have no equal at all.
These old restaurants are not just gold but also the best places to visit if you value ambiance and taste over fast food and burgers. Read on:
Chullu Kabab, Saddar
Some restaurants seem to have been there since forever and Chullu Kabab Sistani/Subhani is one of them. Situated in the heart of Karachi, this Irani restaurant is one of the last such eateries in the city where you can take your friends and family and come out as a satisfied customer because of the variety, the quality and best of all, the quantity that will make you return.
Positive – In the era of fast food, Chullu Kabab Sistani/Subhani has kept its standard high and that’s why even in the presence of Atrium Mall in the vicinity besides a few eateries, those loyal to the Irani Restaurant prefer to visit it, then go elsewhere. Since it’s accessible from all over the city, there is no issue of escaping it citing distance issues; in fact, people prefer to visit Chullu Kabab due to this very factor.
The menu is laced with Bar B Q dishes and you can order anything your heart desires but their specialty remains Chullu Kabab the Irani dish that is to die for if you are a foodie like me. With multiple seekhs of different kinds of Kababs (you can choose as per your mood), served with Saffron Butter Rice, French Fries, and Grilled Tomato, you get a combo that has no match.
Negative – Chullu Kabab might be too pricey for some because some of the dishes cost more than Rs. 500 which is not what an average student or a professional can afford. They need to come up with interesting deals that shouldn’t be a problem for both the owners and the customers. Yes, there seating arrangement has improved recently but keeping it for family only might stop groups of friends from visiting the restaurant completely.
Verdict – If you are willing to get your money’s worth and come out as a satisfied customer, this is the place to be; the service is A one be it day or night and you can be assured of the high quality of food since that’s the reason Chullu Kabab has managed to remain in demand for so long. It might have changed its name or the owners might have changed hands but the taste remains unbeatable even after so many decades.
Just as Lucknow has Tunday Kabab, Karachi has Kaiser Restaurant that is as old as Pakistan itself. Founded in the early 1950’s, the place is currently run by the founder’s sons and they have done their best to keep the high standard high. The place is situated in the crowded area of Old Light House but once you are there, you are bound to remember them through your nose for the dishes they serve capture your imagination.
Positive – Kaiser is said to serve the best mutton leg in all over Karachi but I disagree as their Kulfi is at par with any served throughout the metropolis. Add to that their brilliant kababs and karhais and you can get lost in time while eating their food. Be it chicken, mutton and/or Brain Masala, the taste that was there in the hand of the original chef at Kaiser survives with his family and those who go their once, go back again.
Negative – The décor of the place hasn’t changed and while it may seem elegant to some, the new generation would term it old fashioned. You have to have the patience of an elderly if you want to visit this place because the service is slow, very slow.
That’s because the cook takes pride in his food and treats it as his ‘work of art’ than just dishes. You must skip the place if you are a fan of beef as this place doesn’t serve that since Chicken and Mutton bring them enough customers even to this day.
Verdict – Kaiser is a hard-to-find restaurant where you don’t have the luxury of a Valet or parking your car in a safe spot; park there at your own risk. Kaiser has started to deliver food to your office or home and that can be termed as a step in the right direction for the owners. They need to upgrade their décor and add air conditioning to the restaurant so that in coming days, even youngsters can hang out at the place and find out what they had been missing in their own city.
Stars Club (Cafe Grand)
Have you ever entered a restaurant that has taken you back in time due to its old-fashioned dishes, its aura and the presence of legendary actors in the form of posters? Stars Club does exactly that since it has been revamped from Café Grand to something that has become a must-visit in Karachi.
Positive – The food isn’t pricey for a change and the menu reminds you of Lollywood’s Golden era. Just as the Bollywood people celebrate their film industry, we do the same here and that too in Shaan-daar style. All of the dishes are named after actors and actress or film titles and songs such as Shabnami Chawal, Babu Halka Food, Akmal Fish & Chips, Des Pardes Salad, Zarqa Hummus, Sawan’s Karhai, Makhni Hero, Armaan Paneer, Kamal Ka Chicken Burger, Babbu Bral Steak and Alfredo Bravo Charlie.
You can also order the Alizeb Lemonade or Mumtaaz Latte whereas there is Ghosh Ghutala Coffee, Neeli Bar, and Nisho Ka Nasha Smoothie to curb your thirst. And don’t be surprised to find Javed Shake in the menu alongside Babra Brownie that are true to their names.
Negative – The biggest negative for Stars Club is that it has one of the worst Valet Parking in the world – the valets keep your car in motion until your return and that sometimes results in loss of petrol/CNG. Since it is situated in the busiest intersection – one that leads to I Chundrigar Road on one side and to Shahrah-e-Faisal on the other – there is no parking space which makes it ideal for Taxi users but not for those who have their own transport. Nothing to do with the food!
Verdict – Stars Club is fast becoming one of the most popular restaurants in the city and needs to overcome its parking problem if it wants to become even more popular. Youngsters find it cool while elders love it for its ambiance and hat kay menu. The quantity of food is also one of the reasons foodies will find it irresistible and a place to get their money’s worth.