Tucked away in Clifton Block 8 is The East End, Karachiâ€™s first ethnic fine dining experience. Or at least I think itâ€™s the first; I havenâ€™t seen any purely desi fine dining restaurants other than the ones in hotels. And I wouldnâ€™t call them very fine! However, The East End – spearheaded by Fawad Arif, Muffi Halai and Adil Moosajee – offers a unique experience in terms of a five course meal featuring local cuisine. Popular amongst a quiet and perhaps niche clientele is an experience no one should miss; at least no one who can afford it (TEE will set you back a little over 2000 per person). Pricey? Yes! Worth it? Read on and decide for yourselfâ€¦
I visited yesterday and I think it certainly isÂ an experience to write home about. The very organic ambience has an element of refined distress, a quirky sophistication and the food is a derivative of the mood the place creates. You get to choose from any of the three main course segments: Highway Twist, Captain Charlie, and Bohra Exotic. All three offer serious carnivorous luxuries such as Slow Cooked Meat and Kidneys, Crabs in a Bucket, Raan Roast in Dry Red Baste and Creamy Badami Chicken but thereâ€™s also a Gharo Vegetarianâ€™s Special for those who abstain.
The crabs in a bucket are heavenly.
I ordered The Keamari Crabs in a Bucket and they were heavenly. The curry was flavoursome without being overwhelming (itâ€™ll take some time to wash the aroma off your fingers though) and the quantity was actually enough for two. When we sat down we were told that weâ€™d be eating for the next 90 minutes and that was no exaggeration. The crabs came third in aÂ series of five fine courses, starting with a delicate mirchi and ghatia (with a shot of imli and gurhh ka paani to balance the spices), masala aaloo, barbecued prawns with a shot of coconut cream to drink, the crabs and then a choice of either halwa or kulfi as dessert. Satisfying: absolutely!
Every meal starts with the first course: the mirchi and ghatia, served with a sugary guru ka paani to balance the spice.
The slow cooked raan was divine, a great balance to the hybrid daal chawal but the rather homey ‘paleeda’, a squash curry, may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Warning: I wouldnâ€™t advise you get on the weighing scale until youâ€™ve starved off the after effects of this meal!
I brought the menu home and I must say I am tempted to throw caution to the wind and return for a spot of Paaya with Soaked Naans and Chops, but I would also put in a suggestion or two. Itâ€™s great and novel and unique to create a fine dining experience but I did feel the need for an a â€™la carte menu too. For example, I preferred the Aaloo Paapar with Imli Chutney that my nephew got as his second course to my Masala Aaloo. The prawns that I got were better than his cutlets. In a nutshell, it would have been nice to have the option to order more of some and less of the other.
The other gentle critique I would have for TEE would be replacing homespun items with slightly more innovative dishes. For example, potato cutlets is something we all frequently make at home, I wouldnâ€™t want to sample them in a restaurant unless they were reinvented with a twist. A tweak here and there and TEE will rock even more than it currently does.
So, my verdict on whether it was worth it: it certainly was! And you should go and try it out too!