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PF Chang’s meets Lahore

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PF Chang’s is a Pan Asian restaurant chain that many Pakistanis are fond of because of the chain having multiple branches in UAE, a place where so much of the population is Pakistani. So naturally, when the restaurant finally opened in Lahore, we went crazy for it. I being one of the Pakistani’s who has been to the Dubai branch countless times decided to go and check it out and see whether it meets my expectations and the international standards in comparison to the Dubai branch.

My first attempt at finding a table was unsuccessful thanks to the long line that spread out to MM Alam Road. My second attempt a few days later was successful. For a day (November 1st) when everyone was scared to leave their houses and most of the roads were blocked, I did not expect such a big turnout. Nonetheless, I got a table in a few seconds, something that takes about 20 minutes in Dubai or any restaurant in Lahore for that matter. The huge building and seating capacity can be thanked for that.

The décor was perfect but the lighting was a lot brighter than a typical PF Chang’s which has a dark vibe to the environment and the atmosphere of the restaurant was excellent apart from the typical aunties screaming , “Ye PF Chang kya cheez hai,” “ye halal hai ke nai?,” The service was remarkably good and when I say this, I’m comparing it to Dubai, where you can’t get your food in under 30 minutes at least. Despite the place being busy, I was served my order in under 10 minutes.

PF Chang’s is famous for two things: the horses installed in the main entrance and the divine Dynamite Shrimp. For starters, I ordered the Chang’s Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup Bowl and Dynamite Shrimp. The soup was delicious and fulfilling and exactly like the one I have been having in Dubai for years now. A mishap occurred when the soup was spilled by one of my companions. The staff was super nice and friendly about it and offered us a replacement.

The Shrimp although nearly as good as the one in Dubai, did not have the same quality of shrimp. The quantity was less than what I was expecting which resulted in me ordering two more servings for us. In some PF Chang’s in other places in the world they offer larger servings. What seemed a bit weird to me was that the next two servings were larger in quantity than the first one and had the exact same taste and quality as the Dubai ones.

For my main course, I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken with white rice which again was excellent apart from the quality of the meat which in my opinion was the only downside.

I also ordered 8 pieces of California Rolls as a sushi main course which I have no complaints against. The taste was great and the fish was of amazing quality.

For dessert, I ordered something I had never had before: The Great Wall of Chocolate or in another word ‘heaven’.
Six rich layers of frosted chocolate cake with semi-sweet chocolate chips is just what everyone needs in life.

Overall the food was great, the atmosphere, the décor, the staff everything is up to standard. But on a side note, there was a certain hygiene issue involving one of the drinking glasses smelling of egg and one of my knives being dirty.

On a scale of 1-5, I give it a 4 star rating.

Entertainment Food

Tao: A Pan Asian Restaurant in Karachi – Review

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Pan Asian cuisine has always been known for its blend of complex flavors, and at Tao, you can experience it all as there is something for everyone.

However, it falls into neither the ‘mind-blowing’ nor ‘terrible’ categories, and is a space where different people with different tastes can find something they like. Unlikely to be anyone’s favorite restaurant, it is equally unlikely to a hated spot. Tao is pleasant, inoffensive and safely middle of the road. While many restaurants are polarizing, Tao’s perfect averageness actually makes it universally acceptable.

Combining elegance and a refined ambiance, Tao achieves a rare zen-like balance evoking a sophisticated vibe. The soft lighting and unique cool interiors are both comforting and calming.

The space has been utilized very well with a variety of seating options, accommodating a cozy dinner for two, a meal with a large group of friends or perhaps a live sushi bar where you can sit on stools as your sushi is prepared right in front of you. But it is the splash of a fountain that you notice almost immediately as you enter Tao which allows for a soothing and relaxed atmosphere.

The menu has an extensive array of modern Asian cuisine with a variety that comprises the full spectrum of flavors ensuring that there is something for everyone. With wide ranging choices from soups, starters, salads, and sushi the main courses start on the sixth page of the menu. By keeping a Pan Asian theme, the restaurant is able to serve an assortment of dishes ranging from Japanese to Thai to Chinese. Most of this is traditional fare injected with subtle continental influences.

It would have been nice to be served a bread basket or some kind of amuse-bouche before the meal. Anything to nibble on while customers wait, even something as simple as green tea would be appreciated. It is subtle little touches like that make dining out special, and the absence of this detail is felt strongly.

Covered in a rich, sweet glaze, the ‘Salmon Teriyaki’ might have been interesting if it was not overcooked. Salmon should have a silken texture and melt in your mouth, this was dry and rough to the extent that the excellent teriyaki sauce could not save it.

Recommended by the server, the ‘Crispy Beef’ was very good. Richly flavored and juicy despite being thin cut it had a serious kick and was satisfying.

‘Spicy Crispy Vegetables’ was a personal favorite with its play on textures and unique tangy sauce. Deliciously crisp on the outside and soft and tender inside, it was deceptively simple definitely a dish one worth returning.

‘Pad Thai’ is an iconic and popular Thai dish and mandatory to fully experience the cuisine. Chewy rice noodles with bean sprouts tofu create an interesting blend of flavors without one note overpowering the others. The earthiness of the noodles was lovely, but it could have used a touch of lime.

The drinks may have been the best part of the meal. Instead of leaving it as an afterthought, the drinks seem to be specifically designed to complement all the dishes well. The ‘mint ginger lemonade’ was refreshing (because of the mint) and exciting (because of the ginger). If you are in the mood for something fruitier, the strawberry lemonade is also excellent.

The overall food at Tao is not that mind-blowing neither a disaster, you get everything sitting under a single roof.

Rating: 4/5

Food: 3 | Ambiance: 4.5 | Service: 5 | Value for money: 3.5

Entertainment Food

The Monal- Delicious food in the romance of the hills

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Located among the majestic Margalla Hills at Pir Sohawa, The Monal is a fine option which no one should miss when in Islamabad – the city of colours!

Over the past few years, people have experienced many changes in the food quality at some leading restaurants of the twin cities; but The Monal Restaurant in Islamabad never disappoints anyone.

Starting from the variety in their menu to the quick service of the staff, everything is consistent from day one. It appears that they have not only maintained their services but also achieved a name among the top restaurants of the twin cities.

Over the weekends it is always jam-packed with people. What amazes us most is that even on the busiest days, the restaurant manages to pull their services well.

Let’s talk about food now. Just like most restaurants the menu is very lengthy, including breakfast, lunch and dinner items, fast food, traditional dishes and drinks, sweet dishes etc.

All-Time Favourite

Mostly people’s all-time favourite is their quite popular Cheese Naan. It tastes great, you’ll never find such naan anywhere; the tender bread with the soft melted cheese excites your taste-buds leaving a creamy and salty effect which lasts for a while.

Services

The waiters always present everything in an organized and professional manner, from placing the cutlery on the table to clearing out dishes. During the three-course meal we had, they kept on asking everyone if they needed anything.

Three Course Meal

The three-course meal starts with a soup usually and there a variety of soups available in the menu.  Chicken Corn Soup specially is very delicious accompanied with fish crackers and garlic bread; the rich flavour of the soup is simply tantalizing. On a scale of ten we would give it a 9.

In the second course of the meal you can have anything like Chicken Boneless Handi, Chicken Seekh Kababs, Chicken Chops served with crispy hot French fries, Karhai etc. Theres handiis accompanied with Roghni Naan and Salad, the aroma of the handi is always tempting, the food is always well-cooked and the flavours are exciting. The Seekh Kababs are tender and delicious with the proper balance of spices. The scrumptious Chicken Chops, the chicken breast always perfectly cooked with a delicious and crispy coating. Overall their meal is beautifully prepared.

In the third course you can have any desert. The most ordered desert here is “Chocolate Cheese Brownie Cake”- a delicious combination of cheese and chocolate which makes this dessert irresistible. They serve it on a plate with a slice of brownie cake drizzled with chocolate syrup with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, which makes this dessert heavenly. On our scale we would have rated it more than 10- it is a definite must to try.

Ambience and Interior

How can we forget to mention the beautiful interior and exterior of the restaurant? While having a meal, our surroundings matters the most. People always prefer to sit outside at the Monal and enjoy the beautiful view of Islamabad from the top of the Margalla Hills. The Monal offers a spectacular view of the entire city. The restaurant has seven terraces which provide an amazing view. These terraces have their own themes- there is a terrace for families, a general terrace, a balcony for those who want to find peace and privacy. The dining hall is paneled with a huge glass window so that the people who are sitting inside can also have a good view of the majestic hills.

Entertainment Events

The Lahore edition of Food Music Festival CokeFest successfully concludes

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Lahore edition of Pakistan’s biggest Food and Music Festival concluded successfully on Sunday. The three-day Festival held at Royal Palm Golf & Country Club, Lahore, on Nov 17th, 18th and 19th attracted a huge number of visitors from all corners of the city and provided families with an opportunity to plan a perfect day out. The festival attracted over 30,000 visitors to sample the city’s culinary delights. Attendees witnessed chefs working their magic through cooking demonstrations and enjoyed live music. 
After the successful completion of #CokeFest in Lahore, the festival will now travel to Islamabad (3 days: 8th, 9th and 10th Dec 2017)

Entertainment Events

The New Season of The Coca-Cola Food and Music Festival Kicks off in Lahore

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The second season of Pakistan’s biggest Food Festival #CokeFest opened on Friday 17th November 2017 at Royal Palm Golf and Country Club in Lahore where attendees witnessed chefs working their magic through cooking demonstrations and enjoyed live music featuring performances by Sahara UK, Quadrum [The Percussionists], Sahir Ali Bhagga, Malaika Faisal and Horya Asmat long with various other fun-filled activities for the entire family.

Entertainment Food

Sakura – for Japanese food cravings

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Past the security checkpoints, the long hallways, and the crowded lobby of Pearl Continental Hotel sits one of the very few consistently good restaurants of Lahore and even Pakistan. While the meal surely won’t be economically priced, the brilliance of every dish plated, along with the accommodating and attending service, will all certify that the effort and cost are worth it.

Since its arrival on the Lahore restaurant, Sakura has added new dishes to the menu gradually but regularly. As a result, many great dishes are often missed out on when one is indulging in old favourites. With any luck, this review will throw a light on food goes unnoticed.

Salmon Sashimi

Sakura’s menu is not one that any diner should rush through. Relax and order a little bit at a time, savor each item. Start with a bowl of edamame, steamed and salted for a lighter start, or the garlic and chili prettified variety for a bolder introduction. The little known Sushi Canapés make for a fine taste as well; fresh crab or salmon sashimi atop a crispy base, with caviar garnish, an enticing preview of the smorgasbord of seafood that should assuredly follow. The Salmon Tetaki’s fresh flavours are a delicate mixture of soya sauce, ginger and spring onions and will further sharpens one’s appetite, while also gratifying the palate.

Crispy California Rolls

The Crispy California Roll is the most amicable and popular dish on the menu, a roll that is mainly good for those who are new to the cuisine. Simulated crab enclosed in rice, topped with crispy fried and crumbled tempura for a pleasing crunch, topped with a sweet and spicy dressing. For those braver, but also in the mood for somewhat with an almost dessert-like after taste, there’s the Dragon Roll; unagi (eel) with a sweet glaze, rolled in seaweed and rice, topped with fresh avocado, the feel of which pairs brilliantly with the succulence of the unagi.

Rainbow Roll

The rainbow roll is a dish that has a compound of flavours in a subtle way, while also viewing the varied array of seafood offered at Sakura; each single piece in the roll is topped with a different fish, salmon, tuna, red snapper, atop a roll filled with imitation crab and crunchy cucumber with a small blob of spicy Japanese mayonnaise. Each slice is different; take a moment to truly engross yourself into its components, before moving on.

Banana Tempura with Ice Cream

From the dessert menu, Sakura’s Extravagance Belgian Chocolate Fondant may well be the best in town, else known by names such as puddle cake, or lava cake. While definitely not Japanese fare, it’s a treat that should not be missed. If something tamer is more to your liking, the Banana Tempura with Ice Cream is light and satisfying.

While it is surely possible to eat a costlier meal, dinner at Sakura will run the not inconsiderable price of Rs. 2,000-2,500 per person and maybe even more. A lighter lunch is possible within the range of Rs. 1,500-1,800, which includes Sushi Bento; lunch sized platters of sushi, sashimi, or even rolls, served with Miso Soup, Steamed Edamame, Seasonal Salad, Sushi Canapé, and Chef’s Dessert.

Sakura can handle large parties, regardless of how jam-packed it is. It owns all of the seals of a great restaurant, and your dining experience will be further improved if you were to take the time out to discuss favourites and menu options with the servers and sushi chefs. It is a costly indulgence, but one of the rare few in this country where the price totally worth it.

Entertainment Food

Dessert Directory

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Located in Y Block commercial market of DHA, Dessert Directory is a bakery cum patisserie which offers rich and delicious desserts. Taking its inspiration from the French dessert boutiques, it offers the finest desserts that are excellent to taste and at the same time not too heavy so as to give an unpleasant feeling in the tummy.

Owned by the trio Moniba Javaid, Amer Javaid  and Khadija Shafqat, Dessert Directory started off by dealing in fruit bouquets and candy. But they always wanted to start a proper outlet which would provide mouth-watering desserts.

 

Moniba Javed and Amir Javed deal with the business aspect whilst Khadija Shafqat looks after the culinary aspect. They basically stock desserts made by home-based chefs. The vendors include Chef for the Weekend, Spoonful, Lahorelicious, The Mad Chef, Bano, Scrumptious, The Little Cake Company, The Pink Kitchen, Cake Couture and The Baking Room.

 

They have a versatile price range. From a minimum of Rs 150 it goes up-to Rs 500 and above. Dessert options on the menu range from the conventional banoffee pie, Nutella cheesecake, Tiramisu and even GulabJamuns to more complex pastries like a pistachio meringue tart, which are served on golden coasters.

They also offer free consultation on dessert arrangement and quality. Open from 2 pm, it closes at 12 midnight and has received as high a rating as of 4.6/5. The presentation is great, desserts exquisite and ambience pleasant. The quaint furniture and colourful cupcakes add to the delightful aura. Though it’s a small place, you will simply love the aroma and the experience will definitely be worthwhile.

 

So come visit Dessert Directory and choose from a variety of over 30 types of desserts to satisfy your sweet-tooth at the first luxury dessert bar in Lahore.

Entertainment Food

Sweet Affairs- the trendy hangout

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Sweet Affairs located in Phase 5, DHA is a bistro styled café which offers a versatile menu. It is owned by Ms Asma Waqar who is the chairperson and Ms Saniya Waqar the CEO. Sweet Affairs opened its first branch four and a half years ago in Gulberg, opposite Yum restaurant. From there it expanded to a second branch in Phase 5, DHA and is now opening another branch in the upcoming Packages Mall.

It caters mainly to the youth, providing them with an attractive and clean place to socialize in. The fledglings have a vast social network and so their word of mouth is important for marketing and advertising of the cafe. Café timings are from 7 am to 2 am.

The décor is fantastic. Wooden tables and red velvet chairs add colour to the otherwise immaculate white and silver serving counters. Vase Globes are a novel concept that enhance the outlook. A wall has been dedicated to a scrabble like maze of relevant café vocabulary such as café, espresso, gelato, love, etc.

The signature of Sweet Affairs are its cakes and the Brick Oven Pizzas. The finest cake is Red Velvet but there are others such as Dairy Milk, Chocolate Fudge, Caramel Crunch, etc. In terms of competing with cakes of other restaurants, Sweet Affairs excels in decoration and advance booking for delivering in lesser time i.e. between 16-18 hours.

Coming to The Brick Oven pizzas, there is a variety of flavours that are available. Super Brick Oven which is a combination of veggies, black olives and mushrooms; Barbeque that has smoked chicken with a special cheese topping. The aroma of coal is mouth-watering.

The hottest selling desserts include molten lava, cookie skillet and Peekaboo. Peekaboo is a steaming chocolate brownie topped with a chocolate shell.

A factor that sets Sweet Affairs apart and perhaps makes it unique is its offer of Diet food. The 15, 30 and 42 day challenge designed for people who want to shed weight fast is affiliated with Sweet Affairs. Sweet Affairs offers 3 meals a day- breakfast, lunch & dinner, in accordance with the diet plan given by the instructors. The dishes offered are purely continental. Chicken steak with greens, Greek salad omelet (made only with egg whites) and smoked salmon sardines are a few to mention. The prices range from a minimum of Rs 30,000 to Rs 80,000 and free home delivery is also offered.

The Gelatos it offers are home-made and preservative free. The flavours are Nutella, Cookies & Cream, Pistachio, Strawberry, Ferrero Rocher. The Nutella ice cream is to die for. The chefs have been trained according to International standards and the staff is extremely amicable. It is over all a delightful experience!

Entertainment Food

Khalis Market – Purity, taste and health guaranteed

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We experienced the The Khalis food market held on Sunday the April, 16, 2017 at the Gulberg Galleria Mall. Here we bring to our readers a little about this interesting concept. The market is the brain-child of Asma Shah & Rizwaan Naeem. Concerned with the deteriorating food quality being offered in the markets, both Asma & Rizwaan thought of setting up a wholesale market like a Sunday bazaar where only organic and pure food items would be offered. To encourage the local vendors to put up stalls at the Khalis Market was a big feat but since the demand in the public circles was high, the market became a roaring success.

Rizwaan also explains that it’s a misconception with many that khalis food such as desi ghee and honey, etc add to one’s weight. He tells us that a balanced diet is a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fat and minerals. So as long as you watch your diet and eat healthy and pure you will feel fitter.

Saadia Waqar of “Organic Delight” was offering home-made chutneys, achaar, organic herbs and salads. She also had on her stall fresh organic drinks such as Kaanji, Aloevera, Strawberry, Almond, etc. The price was between Rs 200-Rs 400.

‘Lahorilicious’, the Artisan Ice-cream offered a wide range of flavours with Chocolate Fudge bar as its most popular item. The ice-cream was home-made, organic, made from real fruit and without any additives or preservatives. The price was Rs 200 per cup.

Another stall was set up by a young girl Haadia and her small brother Yahya. They were offering used books and DVD’s to raise money for the deaf. The prices were between Rs 100-300.

“Roshni” an NGO supplied different types of whole wheat breads such as plain, multigrain and with sesame seeds.

‘Soap Therapy’ by Amina Hassnain offered natural handmade soap and skin care with pure essential oils. Their logo was: “Let nature care for your mind, body & soul.”    Her ingredients comprise of different butters, oils, clays and herbs.

“The Daily Juice” offers cold pressed juices. The 2 basic flavours were ‘Mean Green’ (cucumber, mint, spinach) and ‘Red Kiwi’ (beet -root). The juices are a perfect combination of fruits and veggies. They help detoxify the body, boost metabolism, build blood, and prevent the body against cancer and other diseases.

“Food Coma”, had on its stall a variety of items. There were salads, vegetable koftas, flavoured chocolates (without preservatives and white sugar), oatmeal bars, pistachio dates, chocolate truffles.

The Greek salad had as its primary ingredient fetta cheese and veggies. Calamiri Jam Salad had squids and Moroccan CousCous contained roasted veggies. The prices were nominal between Rs 200-500.

Organic Mineral Porridge believes in the natural philosophy:

“Leave the medicine behind and cure your body pains with nature.” Its price started at Rs 1600 per gram.

“Fruit Tribe” was all about food plants. Owned by Shahriq Naeem who tells us how important are “Sunlight, Regular water & Big Trees.” Tasty, exotic & rare fruit trees are available.

“Herboganic” offers pure coconut oil. It has multiple benefits. It is good for hair, skin, weight reduction, anti- aging, osteoporosis, and eradicates all bacteria, virus, fungus as well as is the best sunscreen and natural body lotion.

“Bio-Hunza” produces GMO free products. The Hunza farms are especially certified in organic food. There is a variety of oils such as flaxseed, sunflower, black cumin, peanut, walnut, apricot, kernel, almond and sesame. Each type of oil has different benefits. A few to name are weight reduction, relieving constipation and diarrohea, lowering cholesterol, boosting immune system, improving skin and hair, controlling blood pressure, acting as under eye cream, preventing depression and anxiety and so on and so forth. It also offers different types of tea such as Rose Petal Kehwa, Wild Olives Tea & Weight Loss Tea. It has similar benefits.

“Delish Pizza Bar” offers “thin crust pizza which is delectable in taste yet de-junked for a healthier twist.” The price ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 1300, depending on the size.

“Lift” by Shaista Shafqat imports a wheat germ oil to firm wrinkles on aging and dry skin.

“Halite” offered all sorts of salt and spices that are home grown and pesticide free.

When one of the vendors was asked how their experience was with the market, she replied, “I’ve had an amazing time with Khalis, and have been exhibiting my products for years now. They are definitely a big reason why my business has grown. Lovely, cooperative people, who believe in my products and draw in the exact crowd my products cater to.”

The Khalis Food Market is also a good platform for meeting new and enterprising people. It’s been 5 years since its inception in 2013 and it has gone a long way coming up each time with a different venue and a new twist. A thoroughly exciting and mouth-watering experience! Three Cheers for The Khalis Food Market & its founders!

Entertainment Food

Café Latch: Fine Dining Cusine

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Café latch opened in the heart of Lahore at Mall 94 Gulberg, a few months ago. This area is usually very crowded and that is one of the key reasons that the café caught a lot of attention. It became widely famous for its scrumptious dessert menu.

The café has a very chic décor, huge metallic mirrors hanging all around the walls of the café along with some really cool, quirky quotes wall hangings!

The café can only hold up to 15 to 20 people at one time and also offers a veranda where they have set up a few benches which would only be a top preference to dine when there is a spell of a good weather. Their menu includes appetizers, soups and salads, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, lasagne, burgers, panini, some new Thai dishes, desserts and beverages.

Chicken Tenders:

We got to taste the super light and crispy battered chicken strips with honey and mustard sauce from their appetizers. The best part of the strips was that they were not at all oily and were very tender. The honey and mustard sauce added the perfect flavour to them. They are definitely a must have.

Fresh Mixed Fruit Salad:

If you want to try something other than the typical green salad this one is for you! With strawberries, kiwi, pomegranate, chopped nuts, fresh baby spinach, iceberg, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard and honey a mouth-watering treat is made to perfection! What a great bunch of fresh fruits perfectly combined with the greens and cheese.

Fettuccini Pasta:

Finger licking creamy ribbons along with a twist of spicy baked chicken is the way Café Latch serves fettuccini pasta. Again this is not a normal, typical recipe we all have been eating, as they have added a lot of spice to this dish! So all the spice lovers you can completely satisfy your taste buds with this delicious pasta.

Penang Chicken:

This is one of the new Thai/Malaysian dishes they have introduced recently. It is a red curry with juicy chicken bites, tomatoes and red bell pepper. It has a unique flavour of both sweet and sour and a harmonious blend of spice.

Berry Much Smoothie & Malt Shake:

We tried two of their chilled beverages and they were completely exotic! The Berry Much Smoothie had a blend of blue berries in it with chilled ice making it so refreshing. The Malt shake is a must have for all those who love the Maltesers. You will get to taste your favourite chocolate in a yummy chilled shake! Perfect to beat the heat and satisfy your sweet cravings!