14 eateries you definitely shouldn't miss at this year's Karachi Eat

And everything else you need to know about your favourite food fest.
Updated 11 Jan, 2020 02:36pm

Our favourite foodie festival is here to kick off the new year with a bang.

The latest edition of Karachi Eat is all set to kick off today, January 10 and will go on till January 12 at at the Beach Park on Edhi Avenue, Sea View. On the first day, the gates will open at 4pm and close at 10pm and on Saturday and Sunday, you can hop over at noon and start feasting.

The brainchild of CKO Event Architecture, Karachi Eat will boast around 115 eateries carefully curated by their food jury from 300 applicants wanting to be a part of this year's edition; dishes were marked according to taste, cost, practicality and presentation.

The list includes some usual suspects (Chapli Kebab House, D'oh and Ice Pop) and more than 50 yet to be discovered newbies (which we'll be giving you the lowdown on) introducing innovative dishes created especially for the fest.

Also read: We tried 100 food stalls in four hours at Karachi Eat. Here's what we found

They've increased the ticket price slightly due to a hike in government taxes so now the entry fee is Rs450. As far as pricing inside is concerned, they've capped it at Rs400, meaning that no food item will exceed that.

And if you're not a foodie (can't relate) and are being dragged to the event anyway, fret not, there's going to be plenty of live entertainment. Artists such as Josh, Waqar, Noman Khalid, Noman Jalal, Sahara UK, Israr, Zoe Viccaji and Lil Mafia will be performing, among others. If you've got kiddos with you, they've got you sorted with a play area.

Also, lets try to minimise waste as much as we can people!

The event had its fair share of hiccups last year but here's hoping they've taken all the feedback into consideration this time around.

Here's the 14 stalls we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for:

1) Basic

What's on the menu: Taiwanese spicy fried chicken bao and deep-fried baos with ice-cream.

Basic's Maria Khursheed told us that the fact that they make their bao buns in house makes all the difference.

"It gives them a fresh taste, while the deep-fried baos serves as a special twist! We have a trick up our sleeve that includes four wheels and an engine; all our operations will be conducted from within our 'special' set-up."

Looking to venture into the food business, she says she hopes Karachi Eat serves its purpose.

"Karachi Eat enables start-ups and homegrown restaurants to have an opportunity to showcase their products to a wider audience. It is a platform that many restaurants have used as launchpads, something that we would like to achieve with our participation."

2) ODonuts

What's on the menu: Lots of donuts!

If there was one dessert trend that stood out last year, it was donuts (and lotus but we're over that) and it doesn't seem like it's dying down any time soon.

"It's a donut at the end of the day so nothing unique there, but as there is only one major donut player in the market, that is Dunkin, our quality and flavour fusions are enough to make us stand out! And that too at prices that won't break your wallet," divulges Rayyan Sohail.

"We've been doing 300 donuts a day since we launched online but I think we're all geared up and ready for Karachi Eat; for a new brand, it's the biggest launchpad in the city. With the footfall being in tens of thousands, the exposure we get here will be great for us when we launch an outlet."

3) Taco Cat

What's on the menu: Street tacos like barbacoa and tacos al pastor

A success story from last year's fest, Taco Cat is back this year too and are doing what they do best: tacos, duh!

"The barbacoa is slow-cooked brisket for upto 10 hours in mexican spices and peppers such as chile de arbol. Tacos al pastor is cooked on a spit and the special thing about it is that this style of cooking was introduced by Lebanese immigrants to Mexicans. This taco is served with pineapple and tastes delicious," shared the man behind the eatery, Ali Askari.

And they say they've missed the hype.

"Karachi Eat is the most anticipated event of the year. There’s so much adrenaline and chaos, we’re craving some of that after doing a year of retail. Also, it’s the best way to try out new products."

4) Lemongrass

What's on the menu: Bangkok beef curry noodles, Thai crying tiger and Korean spicy wings

A new Pan Asian kid on the block, Mustafa Shah of Lemongrass knows no amount of prep is enough when it comes to a huge affair like Karachi Eat.

He says, "We have stocks at hand and more ready to be delivered at the stall, if we fall short.Catering to such a large crowd prepares you for everything that you might face in the restaurant business which is a big learning opportunity. Plus the brand exposure doesn't hurt either!"

5) Yoshi's

What's on the menu: Moffle chicken sandwich, ebiyaki, Korean fried chicken and mochi donuts

One of our favourite comfort food joints will be setting up shop at Karachi Eat this year and we're really looking forward to trying the ebiyaki, which is essentially Japanese street food: shrimp balls made with dashi batter, filled with veggies, pickles and topped with delicious sauces and toppings.

The mochi donuts also sound delicious and unique.

Co-owner Umair Anjum shares, "These are japanese donuts made from glutinous rice flour; they are chewy and soft, a completely new kind of donut in K-town. The best way to describe the texture would be a soft bubble gum which you can eat. Since they are made from rice flour, they are also gluten-free." Gluten-free! Like music to our ears.

"This is our first time at Karachi Eat but we had a busy time at last year's Coke Fest which has prepared us well. The key is to be organised yourself and ensure that the prep work and supply is ready. Karachi Eat is a great platform to launch new products and gives you an opportunity to interact with your regular customers," he added.

6) Crust Bros

What's on the menu: Authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza

"The recipe and ingredients are sourced from Naples, Italy. Our menu consists of 24 Karat Gold Crusted Pizza, which is actually topped with 24K gold along with fresh mozzarella and basil. Prefect for your tastebuds and as well as Instagram. We want our city to experience real, authentic pizza, the way it was intended to be," reveals Ahmed Sarwana, the brains behind the venture.

He's confident they can deal with the footfall: "We have kept adequate stock and trained additional skill workers to manage the footfall of Karachi Eat."

7) Leena's Cevapi

Whats on the menu: Original Bosnian cevapi

We love it when a new unique item makes its way to Karachi Eat and now we have one straight outta Bosnia. Pronounced chevapee, the dish consists of lepina, a type of bread that looks like naan but tastes completely different, which is then stuffed with grilled meat.

According to the owners, "Our recipes are inspired from a 30 year old business in Mostar (Bosnia) which has survived the wars in the region. We have many grilled meats on the menu which we'll serve as a mixed grill platter as well. Our ingredients and condiments like 'ajaver' and curd are homemade with the authentic taste of Bosnia."

"We're new to Karachi Eat and a small home business so we're nervous about what to expect but are just hoping that people will enjoy our food and coffees."

8) Chipseez

What's on the menu: Chips with dips, sliders, Cheetos mozzarella sticks and fried Oreos

"To start off, we have our Chipseez Tray. We're offering Potato, Sweet Potato and Beetroot Chips with a variety of dips to choose from like Jalapeno Mayo, Sriracha Mayo, Dynamite Sausages, etc. We have 8 dips on offer, including 2 sweet dips namely Chocolate Salted Caramel and Strawberry Cheesecake! We don't know of anyone else offering this variety of chips and dips and they're great to munch on!" shared the owner, Musuid.

"We also have Sliders, which are small burgers. We are going to offer either Beef, Chicken or Mix tray of Sliders (each tray will have 2 burgers). We pride ourselves on having some great burgers and just to jazz it up for Khi Eat, we are offering them in our "Chipseez" coloured buns (which is somewhere between blue and teal). We also have Cheetos Mozzarella sticks and Fried Oreos, which are again great to munch on and share and introduce a new take on some classic food items."

Also Karachi Eat first timers, Chipseez found prepping for the mammoth event a little intimidating. "Arranging things at a scale we are not used to on a daily basis was tough. However, it's also very exciting. Friends and family are all onboard to help us be in good shape."

9) Dip a Dough

What's on the menu: Customised donuts

We got another donut joint here but they are so much more than that. The stall will have a live station which will let you choose your own toppings and fillings for your donut.

Fraz says, "We sell fresh desserts; from oven to plate. We love experimenting with unique concepts and so we have introduced ‘stick waffles.’ We also have our versions of the conventional product, such as mini pancakes and Kashmiri chai with a twist. However, our personal favourites are the hot centre filled donuts where the sauces are oozing out when you bite into them."

"Our team has been pumped about Karachi Eat for months now. Sleepless nights and constant preparation has given us the illusion that we are prepared for this massive festival that takes Karachi by storm."

"Our goal is to maintain a steady supply of all of our products and ensure that we are able to create a miniature version of our production site as all of it is a part of the Dip a Dough appeal. A mini Willi Wonka factory if you will. Karachi Eat is not only the best place to cast a wider net in terms of a target audience but it also gives us a chance to get genuine feedback about our products and experiment with new ones whilst eliminating massive risks. Plus, our business model revolves on catering and pop-ups, Karachi Eat is the perfect venue for that."

10) Sol

What's on the menu: Smoked brisket sliders, burgers, bao buns, hot chocolate and butterbeer

The eatery that served up butterbeer last year and has since opened up a full-fledged joint is back for one more round.

"Based on experience, we've devised a plan for this year to estimate the amounts of products required. Preparing them in advance and being ready for extra productions is our game plan. Karachi Eat is a fun three day marathon, out meeting a lot of the customers and telling them about us. It's great for team building and rebooting old processes."

Oh and they're also serving some apple pie wontons which we can personally vouch for!

11) Drty Dogs

What's on the menu: Hot dogs and lots of hot dogs

Asim Siddiqui, the guy behind 2019's hit 2 Guys 1 Grll, is setting up another stall this year.

"Initially we contemplated if we want to just include our hot dogs as a menu item from the brand of 2 Guys 1 Grll but we felt that a lot of people in Karachi don't give importance to hot dogs. It's always like a side item or an add on item. You'll have burger shops or greasy food places, and these restaurants that won't be focusing on hot dogs. I feel like the charm of the hot dog just goes away," he revealed.

"We're doing loaded hot dogs in brioche buns, with all sorts of cheeses and toppings. It's really messy to eat hence the name. We're coming up with two flavours; one is a Mexican inspired flavour with beef chilli, nacho cheese and salsa. The other is Korean inspired with pickled slaw, sesame seeds and peanut sauces. It's all coming well together, we've been doing a bunch of catering events, hosting for a bunch of people and getting great responses."

We say, bring on the carbs!

12) Caramelt

What's on the menu: Japanese pancakes, red velvet pancakes, tres leches, tiramisu and dulce de leche

We tried these Japanese pancakes during food jury and let us just tell you, they were excellent.

Saddy was all praise for Karachi Eat: "It is a great platform to enter the market as a home-based business point of view. To see the response of feedback of your product there and then is really fulfilling."

They'll be making pancakes fresh to order so here's hoping they've planned well.

13) Tikyani

What's on the menu: Tikka biryani and tikka stuffed kachoris

A family recipe passed down for generations, the people behind Tikyani tell us, "This is our first time at Karachi Eat, through effective prep management and defined queues we will ensure that our consumer have a good experience. KEF is medium through which we want to generate trials – change the consumers perception of “tikka biryani" and get them acquainted with the perfect blend and fusion of tikka and biryani by generating positive word of mouth of the brand."

We're also really fascinated by their kachoris.

14) D'OH

What's on the menu: Ice lollies and crepe sushi

D'OH, the place known for its churros is experimenting this year.

Talking to Images, Abrar Bawany elaborates, "We have Jolly Rancher and Hawaiian punch ice lollies. It's a great opportunity for us to launch new products and have thousands of people try it, similar to a market study. And we are doing the ice lollies as a market study to figure out whether we should put a plant and do full on manufacturing."

Yes, we're masochists who are looking forward to sampling ice lollies in this weather. See you guys at Karachi Eat!