China Town Islamabad Review by Shafia Agha
Founded in 1988 by Mr. Ma Yo Lin, China Town was the first Chinese restaurant to introduce Szechuan cuisine in Pakistan. It paved the way for the famous coal based Fire Pot, Szechuan Lemon Chicken, Szechuan Dry Beef with Chilies and Kung Pao Chicken.
Withover 24 years in service, Chinatown is still attracting an imperturbable clientele. The restaurant claims to serve the same mouth-watering dishes, pleasant ambiance and service at par with the best.
Located in F8/4, Islamabad, the building now houses three floors. The ‘Forbidden City‘ is located on the ground floor offering modern Chinese setting with two private lounges. The ‘Fire Pot Lounge‘ is the first floor dining hall and the top most ‘Lijiang‘ – which is basically the rooftop facing Margalla Hills. With a wooden decked floor, it is the perfect to relax and enjoy piping hot food.
We walked in and a got a table for three without any wait. The ambiance was lively and intimate at the same time. Our meal got off to a good start with the complimentary pickled vegetables and peanuts. The cucumbers and carrots were mouthwatering. My only gripe at this stage was that we repeatedly asked for a second serving of the same and were conveniently ignored. I wish they would just tell us that they don’t entertain such hankering rather being obtuse about it.
The menu is pretty extensive with house specialties like the Beijing duck/chicken, Kun Ming beef, Szechuan lemon chicken and Chinatown special HO KO – fire pot made live with coal on your table. Our party of three ordered Hot & Sour soup with prawn crackers (charged separately!), Chinatown special fried rice, Beef chili dry and Chicken sizzling with garlic sauce (was supposed to come on a sizzler plate but didn’t).
The food was delectable and served piping hot. Everything was spot on – food wise. The service, sadly, was mediocre at best. A very nice evening was marred by such insipid details – Our server did not look comprehensible regarding the menu and dropped the tray of drinks in my colleagues lap and all the leftover we got packed, was mistakenly given to someone else. Chinatown really need to pull up their socks, train their staff and fulfill their promise of ‘service at par with the best’.
All embracing, it was good value for money – about Rs. 800 per head with drinks and tip.