George Bernard Shaw was onto something when he said, "There is no sincerer love than the love of food."
From January 23 to January 25, Frere Hall will turn into every food lover's paradise. From innovative and gifted gourmet chefs making succulent Parmesan Chicken or choux pastry ball-laden Croquembouche to street vendors preparing scrumptious bun kebabs and gol gappas on the spot, Karachi Eat is a festival which celebrates the full diversity of food that the city of lights has to offer.
Not only is the ticket affordable at Rs200, your favourite restaurateurs will be offering discounted prices (albeit, slightly smaller helpings) so one gets to try a little bit of everything.
There will be a variety of different participants, including corporate giants, top restaurants, celebrity chefs as well as home bakers. Some stalls we're particularly excited about are:
1. Simple Dimple
|Simple Dimple will be at Stall No. 31. - Photo courtesy: Rayyan Durrani|
You can order their signature Khao Suey on a Sunday afternoon or curl up with a bowl of their Wok-fried noodles on a quiet Monday night; Simple Dimple aims to produce comfort food close to the heart and home. A popular choice for delivery, Simple Dimple's chefs will be doing stir fry live at the station and will also be serving tangy Chilli Lime Chicken Wings, along with their very special Khao Suey.
|From left to right: Classic Khao Suey, Sweet Chilli Lime Wings and Wok-fried Thai noodles. - Photo courtesy: Simple Dimple's official Facebook page|
This cosy little eatery specialising in fresh submarine sandwiches (also called hoagies) burst onto the scene in 2014 with a menu that caters to light as well as heavy eaters and became an almost instant success. Owners Saiem Nasir and Saad Nasir say they first got the inspiration for Hoagies while working at a shop in San Francisco.
"The different thing about Hoagies is that we bake our aioli into the bread and our sandwiches are stuffed with fries and mozzarella sticks. You can't compare it to anything in the market right now," says Saiem.
The duo will be serving two types of Hoagies — Fried Chicken and Honkie Style fries as well as regular fries from their menu.
|The always courteous staff of Hoagies will be at Stall No. 35 - Photo courtesy: Saiem Nasir|
3. The Cakery
Aamina Jehangir started The Cakery out of her home back in 2007 in an effort to bring to Pakistan the lost art of baking. It is now a bake studio and cafe and undoubtedly a trendsetter which gave birth to many such home-based bakers becoming entrepreneurs.
Paying attention to aesthetics and taste, Aamina reveals that The Cakery will be serving a wide variety of their existing products along with some new launches and will be exhibiting Valentine's Cake Pops. A Live Brownie bar and Cupcake station (wipe that drool!) will be present and their Gourmet Chocolate shakes will be available as well.
|Aamina in front of her stall at Karachi Eat 2014. Find The Cakery this year at Stall No. 43. - Photo courtesy: Aamina Jehangir|
"Fika has recently opened its doors and presents cafe-goers with an experience of taste, with a menu of cafe classics and creative dishes that focus on taste, quality ingredients, and importantly, thoughtful service," says Abid Merchant, the brains behind Fika.
Fika will be serving a fixed menu consisting of two soups — perfect for this weather — two pastas and chicken entrees as well as Fish and Chips.
|Abid Merchant enjoys a drink standing next to the Fika mantra. Fika will be at Karachi Eat at Stall No. 50. Photo courtesy: Abid Merchant|
5. Churros and Choc
A churro is a dough pastry based Spanish delicacy usually served with a dipping sauce, and is an incredibly rare find in Karachi. Well, look no further because Churros and Choc is a pop up food stand that only serves at festivals and events and will be there at Karachi Eat this year. If your sweet tooth is craving churros dusted with cinammon sugar and served with a Belgian hot chocolate sauce (and not Hershey's syrup!) then you're in luck!
|Owner Rayyan Durrani invites you to cheat on your diet with a churro. Masterchef Pakistan's former contestant will be making fresh churros at Stall No. 32. - Photo courtesy: Rayyan Durrani|
6. The Second Floor (T2F)
The Second Floor, more commonly referred to as T2F, has become a safe haven for artists and literature lovers since it's inception in 2007. T2F features a café and bookshop and hosts poetry readings, meetups with writers, talks, debates, theatre performances, film screenings, open mic nights, jam sessions, and standup comedy.
Raania Durrani, Manager of Arts and Programming at Peace Niche (the non-profit NGO that started T2F), shares: "T2F is committed to social change through the liberal arts, creative expression, and open dialogue so we will be popping up at the Karachi Eat 2015. The menu includes NA-250 Bun Kabab Series, Yeh Cheese Sandwiches, juice shots, baked goods, coffees, tea and cold drinks."
|A member of T2F's team holds up a blackboard displaying the menu for the upcoming festival. Find T2F at Stall No. 30A - Photo courtesy: Raania Durrani|
Mahwish Aziz started Sugaries in May 2013 and hasn't looked back since. Each item is meticulously prepared to not only tease the taste buds but also give wholesome nutritional value by using quality products. Aziz says, "We plan to entice food lovers at the Karachi Eat 2015. Hope to pleasantly surprise them by the range of treats that will be available to be devoured."
Don't let the name mislead you - Sugaries will not only be serving bite-size desserts ranging from Lemon Tarts to Brownies but will also be savoury food items such as Burgers and Chop Suey.
|Find Mahwish Aziz baking up a storm at Stall No. 9. - Photo courtesy: Mahwish Aziz|
8. Chapli Kebab House
|The founder takes great pride in his team and vision. - Photo courtesy: Najjam Quddusi|
Founder of the most popular food stall from last year's Karachi Eat, Chapli Kebab House's Najjam explains why he felt the need to venture into the restaurant business.
"Non-availability of good chapli kebabs in Clifton and Defence prompted us to start this venture," he saus.
"Replicating the original taste and texture of the kebabs from KP is next to unattainable, as the ingredients such as the beef, water and the surroundings are totally different."
" What we have tried to do is get as close to the original as possible by ensuring that premium quality ingredients are used, taste remains consistent and pricing is such that it appeals to all segments."
The much sought after kebabs will be available in beef and chicken, with naan, to cater to different preferences.
|Quddusi says, "To avoid long queues (top left, last year's festival), we have introduced a token system. This year, you can place your order, take your token and walk away. When your number is displayed, come and collect your food piping hot.|
When Ayaz Khan opened Okra in 1999, he redefined for Karachi what fine dining was all about.
Okra aims to serve the best Mediterranean cuisine coupled with the freshest ingredients, that no other restaurant gets their hands on.
Okra's pricing is not for the faint-hearted so Karachi Eat is the best time to get a taste of what they have to offer without paying full price.
Khan says the menu will be limited: "We want to do a few things but we want to do it well. We will have our Greek Style Vine Leaves, Turkish Koftas with Pita bread and Chocolate Raspberry Tarts. We're still ironing out the details."
|Okra's food has become the epitome of fine dining in the city. Find your way to Stall No. 14 to get to Okra. - Photo courtesy: Okra's official website.|
10. The Pantry
Also one of the most crowd-pleasing stalls from last year, (their Classic Gourmet burger paired with sweet potato fries took the cake!), The Pantry will be returning to Karachi Eat.
Wanting to maintain the element of surprise by not divulging the menu, Pantry's founder Muhammad Ali Teli did share that there will be a burger on the roster and the sweet potato fries will be making a comeback, along with a couple of new additions.
"We're keeping the menu small because it's easier to handle volume that way. We don't want to compromise on quality and we learnt a lot from our first time at Karachi Eat so we're aiming to do even better this time around."
|If the lines from last year's Karachi Eat are any indication (bottom left), then Pantry, which will be at Stall No. 19, is definitely not to be missed this year. - Photo courtesy: Pantry's official Facebook page.|
While the organisers want to keep some of the mystery alive and not reveal all the participants, a few more restaurant names have also been announced, such as Rowtisserie, Cosmopolitan, Eat Fit, California Pizza, The Deli and Nando's, among others.
The festival will kick off on Friday at 4:00pm and go on till 11:00pm and it will commence even earlier on Saturday and Sunday starting bright and early at 11:00am and will continue till 11:00pm. The initiative taken by the team of Karachi Eat Food Festival is one that was much needed. In a city where there is so much to grumble about, Karachi Eat gives people an opportunity to relax, spend the weekend soaking in the sun with family and friends and escape, all the while enjoying some delicious food.