With inflation on the rise, eating out is becoming increasingly difficult. Restaurants have severely hiked up their prices and most of us already have too little to spare for entertainment to be able to meet these exorbitant price demands. This coupled with Karachi’s insane political and social condition has led to a decline in the restaurant business this Ramadan.
The times that I did venture out to grab a bite, I was met with empty restaurants or sparsely populated ones. When it came to portion size I was offered barely enough to fill my stomach, whereas the bill usually emptied my wallet. It was during the course of this hounding misery that I stumbled upon a relatively new restaurant that paid due respect to my stomach size as well as wallet.
“Food Centre” located in Schon Circle – next to UBL – was initially opened in the famous Burns Road, as one of the more classier restaurants in the locality. Its glass building stood out on the street that is usually plagued with hawkers and beaten down shops. While I have not eaten properly at its Burns Road branch, I decided to try it out at this new location. Mostly, because I had tried it at a friend’s place and knew it to be good value for money.
The place is designed very well, by a renowned architect (Saleem Rangoonwala) and not the kind you would expect a medium-budget Pakistani restaurant to be. So to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The dining halls were open, making the seating arrangement comfortable and spacious. The walls were done up with paintings and the false ceilings sported intricate wooden patterns. The entire restaurant exuded a contemporary aura but the smell of Pakistani food made sure that it was right on “Traditional” track.
Being a big biryani fan, I ordered “double chicken biryani” from the menu – along with zarda, Chicken Qorma and naan. The chicken biryani was fabulous, and I am saying this despite being a major biryani critic. It was spicy, warm and served with big pieces of chicken – a rare commodity in other biryani places. Moreover, for those who are not as inclined towards spice there is always the option of adding plain rice to make the biryani less of a torture for the tastebuds.The zarda – to be honest – was not that great. I initially ordered the special Zarda but it was unavailable so what I got instead was plain, sweetened orange rice – without the customary red and green sweets and gulab jamun.
As for the Qorma – it was bordering perfection – and would have been a winner had it not been for the naan that turned cold while waiting for the azaan to sound. Moreover, the waiters were quite inexperienced and did not quite know how to deal with the crowds that were thronging as time for iftar arrived.
On the whole, considering the amount I had to spend, the meal was worthwhile and delicious. Their serving sizes were decent and I really enjoyed the food that I ate. Moreover, I hardly find traditional food restaurants in Karachi and those that do exist do not have good enough ambiances for one to go with their family. But this one is definitely a place where going with family should not be an issue. Conclusively, Food Centre was an 8/10 experience – working wonders for my pocket, taste buds and stomach but lacking only when it came to service and the cold naan.