If you're on foodie Facebook groups like Karachi Food Diary or SWOT's, you know the name on everyone's lips currently is Evergreen. Online forums are flooded with patrons gushing over the new place - and for good reason!
Evergreen has been doing salads for a while now, available at Aghas, Pharmacy Plus and a few other stores across Karachi. I myself have their caesar salad at least once a week minimum, so I was over the moon when I heard the man behind it, Kamil Rahim had teamed up with Sikander Rizvi of Xander's to bring us a fresh, healthy alternative to the pan-Asian mania that has taken over the town.
The duo agrees that it came about to provide affordable convienaint access to healthy fresh food that also tastes great, with a menu that has been meticulously designed by their food consultant, Shamira Mapara.
"Kamil had started a healthy food delivery business called Evergreen with a partner but it wasn't doing too well. He wanted to expand and take the business forward so he wanted to bring my expertise on board. We were doing different things like developing meals for schools, but I wasn't satisfied. I thought, why not just open a restaurant now?" says Sikander. "I've been part of every single decision, from buying machinery to coming up with recipes to approving logos," he adds.
"It was a concern that Evergreen might be associated too much with Xanders," admits Sikander, "and obviously I don't want to cannibalise Xanders' business either. But I think what sets Evergreen apart is its emphasis on light, healthy food and the whole 'grab and go' experience. The focus is really on salad and take-away as opposed to just dining in."
Where to go
Evergreen has opened up on the corner of 26th Street and Seher, right next to Johnny Rockets in Karachi.
The space is cosy, but not at all cramped. The marble topped tables and green walls are well lit, with salads laid out in front of you in a Subway-style bar. The decor and space was a breath of fresh air compared to the 'more people, more money' mentality a lot of the larger eateries in Karachi chose to embrace.
When I ate there, the music was a well-selected playlist of mellow grooves that had you bobbing your head and wondering what was playing. At the same time, it wasn't so loud that it distracted from conversation.
When to go
Luckily, Evergreen opens its doors nice and early at 9 am and is running until midnight.
What to order
We kicked things off with the caesar wrap, made right in front of you at the bar. The wrap itself is made with spinach and ties all the ingredients together perfectly. I'm fairly certain some form of sorcery is used by Evergreen because nothing was falling or dripping from the sides of the wrap, making it super easy to eat on the go as well.
Cheese and Caesar dressing coated the crunchy crispy salad leaves and garlic croutons without overpowering them so the absolute freshness of each ingredient really shines through.
Prime, well-marinated cuts of chicken alongside the creamy deviled eggs brings a wholeness to the wrap that you just have to try yourself to believe. I wish I was exaggerating when I say I've had one wrap every day since they opened.
Next, we had the baked red snapper coated in sesame seed, with a soy dressing served with a side of vegetables. It's hard to cook asparagus and carrots to just the right degree without them going limp and soggy, but Evergreen managed to plate crisp yet tender greens grilled to perfection and most importantly not dripping in sauce as to distract from the sweet natural flavour of these yum sides.
Now for the snapper. It came right out of the oven and each bite just dissolved on ones tongue. The sauce was light and paired well with the delicate flavour of the sesame coated snapper.
October is around the corner and the basic B in me has been screaming out pumpkin everything so I just had to try the pumpkin soup, and I am glad I did. The soup had elements of thyme, garlic and onion which all worked to bring out the champion element of the dish, which was, obviously, pumpkin. It sated my craving but I only wish it had been a little creamier and thicker.
The being said the flavours were spot on and a must try for all pumpkin-lovers.
We were totally stuffed to the point where we were cursing our skinny jeans and sneakily trying to undo our top button, but I would not be deterred! Being the die-hard, fully committed fatty and foodie that I am, I refused to leave without trying the Laksa.
I've been looking for good Laksa for a while now and although a few restaurants pretend like they know what Laksa is, no Karachi establishment I've been to has so far been able to do the Malaysian dish justice. Enter Evergreen.
The noodle to soup ratio was perfect, while the aroma of the spicy coconut curry was oh so inviting. With brand new restaurants in Karachi casually throwing around the word authentic these days, the Laksa at Evergreen truly embraces the term.
I was immediately transported back to my favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Semeniyeh which was only open 4 hours a day and served the best Laksa in Malaysia. Evergreen has managed to make a fresh, savory and, the most important characteristic of a good Laksa, light dish that was a great ending to a delectable meal.
Before leaving I was lucky enough to bump into a friend and couldn't resist taking a a bite out of her Greek Chicken Burger which was also a real treat. The chicken patty was stuffed with fresh spinach and feta on a whole wheat bun with basil mayo. Perfectly roasted tomatoes were the perfect juicy addition to this light, unique take on a burger. (Okay maybe I had more than one bite).
To accompany the meal I recommend their signature drink, a mint and coconut flavored lassi which is yummy and very refreshing. The trick is that they use coconut water instead of coconut milk.
That still wasn't enough so the next day I rounded up my girlfriends and trooped over for a late lunch. I had their Divide and Conquer option which allows you to split your bowl three ways to try three different salads!
I chose the mushroom and feta with quinoa, shiitake mushrooms dressed with a heavenly balsamic dressing. Second in my bowl was the date and orange salad which had juicy mixed green, orange slices, sweet pear served with an orange-fennel dressing that brought all the flavours together in a light savoury way.
The last salad was the citrus beet with a toss up of spinach, oranges, beets obviously, ricotta, toasted walnuts and just the right garnish of spring onions. The citrus dressing however was a bit too sweet for my tastes.
After that we got the beef chimichurri bites. The best cuts of tender beef on toasted ciabatta have a zesty parsley aioli coating with a secret house blend of chimichurri sauce that I cannot praise enough.
The last thing we tried was the Beet It Bowl! It's a vegetarian option but a must try for you meat obsessed carnivores too.
The fresh, roasted till lightly crisp broccoli coupled with the bursting with juicy red cherry tomatoes and cubed beetroot was magical when put together with brown rice, quinoa and of course, ricotta. The rustic basil pesto was so addictive I had to lick my plate clean under the table. Props to food consultant Shamira Mapara for curating such at mouth-watering menu.
5 stars way, way up there!
Damage to the pocket?
Our total bill for all this was reasonable for the quality of food they are serving. Five people and we paid a little over a grand each.
Check out their full menu with prices here.
Additional reporting by Images Staff.