Updated Apr 07, 2017 03:23pm

Filmmaker Yasir Jaswal turns restaurateur with Islamabad's new burger joint Jessie's

Islamabad's hot new eatery Jessie's marks Yasir Jaswal's transition from Jalaibee to burgers.

The filmmaker/musician has tapped into his passion for food — "I'm often found fixing meals for family and friends at home," he says — with his partner and childhood friend Yawar Siddiqui.

Director Yasir Jaswal hopes to keep this business venture independent of his media persona
Director Yasir Jaswal hopes to keep this business venture independent of his media persona

After a soft launch last year and three added months of trial and error, Yasir is now officially testing his home kitchen skills on a full-fledged commercial grill.

The eatery can cater to around 60 customers at a time.
The eatery can cater to around 60 customers at a time.

Jessie's, which opened its doors at Jinnah Super Market, F-7 last month, boasts a rustic design, which is made special by the inclusion of a balcony where one can see Islamabad's lush greenery and sunset. The eatery can cater to around 60 customers at a time.

What's in a name?

“My friends in high school and my siblings at home always called me Jessie, not Jaswal," reveals Yasir. "So, when it was time to name the joint, my father had the last word and Jessie’s it was.”

When love comes to town ❤ missed you @vex.dude #friendslikefamily #jessies

A post shared by Yasir M Jaswal (@yasirjaswal) on

However, Yasir had hoped to keep this business venture independent of his media persona.

“I didn’t want people to think that being associated with showbiz I am using my name to popularise this place. I want Jessie’s to be famous for its burgers and not for its owners. I am in the kitchen when the chef goes missing,” he shares.

Jessie's is evidently a labour of love
Jessie's is evidently a labour of love

Jessie's has a secret

Jessie's wide range of burgers has quickly garnered a cult following.

The one-page menu features six different takes on the burgers, ranging from Jessie’s Classic Beef, a 6oz juicy prime beef patty topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and homemade sauce to The Grand Beef, a towering magnificence with a 7 oz beef patty, two slices of cheddar cheese, a slice of turkey bacon, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and beef gravy sauce all buried under caramelised onions.

A popular favourite is Jessie’s The Mushroom, which features mozzarella instead of cheddar cheese. “Mozzarella's subtler taste goes well with the sharpness of the mushrooms,” explains Yasir.

The mushroom burger is a monster
The mushroom burger is a monster

“What makes our burgers different from others is the effort that goes into making them. The marinating process, the quality of beef, freshness of the meat and the amalgamation of ten different ingredients that I have infused in the sauce makes all the difference in our product," he says.

Buns are baked in-house and fresh ground beef and steak undercut meat carefully chosen from Qureshi’s Meat shop, a waterhole for all the restaurant owners of the capital.

“We purchase meat, vegetables and other ingredients on a daily basis. There is no frozen meat or day old vegetables or buns at Jessie’s,” Yawar chips in.

The Grand Beef
The Grand Beef


Out of the four beef options, I picked Firestarter in spite of the red alert raised by Yasir.

At first look, the burger appeared... crowded. The thick beef patty, consisting of 7oz of minced meat, was weighed down by a slice of cheddar cheese, crispy smoked beef bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and homemade special fire sauce. It was difficult to handle after the first bite.

The Firestarter ain't for the faint-hearted
The Firestarter ain't for the faint-hearted

However, it did let loose firecrackers in the mouth, throwing punches at every bite.

We needed this ice tea to calm the spice
We needed this ice tea to calm the spice

The BBQ Chicken burger was simple by contrast. Grilled chicken patty, piquant Southwestern mustard sauce and Jessie’s own BBQ sauce might not fulfill a big appetite.

The Tenderloin Steak, weighing 300 grams, arrived on a wooden platter, accompanied by three ramekin containers filled with mashed potatoes, brown sauce and spinach. For steak, there is a lot of effort which goes into cooking as per customer’s choice.

Steak is tricky to get right but Jessie's seems to holding their own
Steak is tricky to get right but Jessie's seems to holding their own

"Our steaks are not sous-vide processed, we grill them and that's the reason it takes 20 to 30 minutes to serve the steak,” explains Jaswal. Tenderloin at Jessie’s was just what I liked it to be. It was easier to carve and its structure firmer as I started to slice.

Jessie's needs to work on their sides served with the steak
Jessie's needs to work on their sides served with the steak

However same could not be said about the side orders. The mashed potatoes lacked creaminess; it was dry and without any texture. Similarly, the sauces need to be worked on. The brown sauce was too runny and spinach too bland.

There's always room for dessert
There's always room for dessert

“Our burgers range from Rs 595 to Rs 695 as we know what a young hungry burger lover can afford. We have organised two gigs at Jessie's so far and the place was full to capacity with teenagers munching fries and drinking lemonade,” Yasir says.


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Comments (14) Closed

ijaz Apr 07, 2017 03:59pm

Continued Pakistani obsession with unhealthy, foreign junk food.

We are creating a health crisis in a country with limited health care resources.

KPK Apr 07, 2017 06:55pm

@ijaz ; please stick with healthy daal. As for the burger it looks delicious. Love it!

Asif Apr 07, 2017 07:05pm

People in the West and North are ditching this kind of stuff and going organic and healthy and we are creating another problem for us.

dr. bilqis Apr 07, 2017 07:25pm

These burgers would cause an instant heart attack.Nothing but junk food.

Khwarizmi Apr 07, 2017 10:42pm

People have access to all sort of food where I am living in Europe but people are interested in organic and healthy food. I can not go many days without Pakistani food which I think is the number one food in the world.

sajjad Apr 07, 2017 11:07pm

well in 600 rupees -4-5 people can be fed with proper food- junk food with junk prize with sacrificing healthy food- I would still stick with organic food and organic drinks without sugar - 9th year with hot water and enjoying benefits of changing my lifestyle.

vikas gupta Apr 08, 2017 12:02am

@ijaz Thank you Izaz for putting things in perspective, I am glad its coming from a Pakistani,

Awaz... Apr 08, 2017 02:12am

Mr. Yasir, Please do something more productive and healthy for the people of your beloved country. They are already sick, dying with diabetes, heart attack and hepatitis A,B,C,D. So my friend you still can make good money with healthy and productive ventures. Do you think Burger is the only think nation needs?

Chris Roberts Apr 08, 2017 03:04am

If you really think about it, the notion of 'foreign food' is beginning to disappear as the world becomes more and more of a global village where people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are now living all over the globe. It stands to reason that there will be all types of cooking available just about everywhere, and tastes will change as people are exposed to all the foods from many lands. In Britain, Indian/Pakistani food is so ubiquitous that it has become almost the national cuisine. As to the comments with respect to healthy food, a burger made from a good cut of fresh meat and served with freshly baked bread can be delicious without being unhealthy, if the dressing is not greasy or loaded with fat. A salad with just an (olive) oil and vinegar dressing can replace the deep-fried chips as a healthy side dish.

sameer Apr 08, 2017 10:05am

@ijaz health crises caused by 700 PKR burger only for BURGER MAFIA

Human Apr 08, 2017 11:21am

To be an instant hit in Islamabad all you need a good wrapping cover. In jessies case the wrapping cover is jaswal s social capital. The food is below average. Burgers are greasy and put in a hurry and buns are often cold. Staircase is filled with urinal smell and I wonder what would be the hygene in the kitchen. Interior seems to be a desperate attempt to be bohemian and urban by some one who used google and was on a tight budget. It realy lacks taste anx sense of culture. But Islambad s love affair with imitations on budget will go a long way.

Muhammad Arshad Apr 08, 2017 01:45pm

Good One, good point on eating healthy, but once in a while one can indulge into a juicy burger.

JA-Australia Apr 08, 2017 04:44pm

The burgers look delicious. Some of the critical comments here are not fair. People in Pakistan deserve the same variety and choices as people elsewhere. Here in Australia, I will eat Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Pakistani, Burgers, Italian, Kebabs in any given week. Variety is the spice of life. Enjoy.

XYZ Apr 08, 2017 10:37pm

Junk food, the streamline for unhealthy resources in our limitation. In comparison, past ten years with the today's era; a big and modulus change in sector of health. For instant, it's really awesome but isn't long enough to be in pocket all the time.