Kafe Karachi Review – Birmingham

This week’s review takes me back to the Balti Triangle and Kafe Karachi which has gone through more brand makeovers than any your average restuarant on the Ladypool Road.

This is the first blog where I have managed to remember to take photos with my Nokia E71 which in my humble opinion is one of the best Nokia phones ever produced. Its the Nokia take on a Blackberry albeit on the much slimmer side with a full qwerty keyboard. If I have one criticism of my beloved E71 its the camera so I hope the photos come out well!

On a side note, we’ve had a great response from readers wanting to contribute reviews to the website, inshallah over the next few months we fully expect reviews to go live in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Bradford and other cities.

Back to Kafe Karachi which is supporting a brand new look both on the outside and the inside, gone is the tacky yellow sign and the diner style seating and tables both of which have been replaced with a sleek black and yellow branding that definitely is more welcoming than before.

Customers can use the Kafe Karachi car park at the back of the restuarant which is a significant advantage to some of the other restaurants in the area where car parking is at a premium and road rage is a way of life!

Entering into Kafe Karachi and the first thing that hits you is the new furniture, I have a feeling they got a bulk discount on their purchase of tables and chairs. Failing that they must be going for a world record bid of trying to fit in as many covers in to their dining space as possible.  I wouldn’t want to be eating in Kafe Karachi on a busy night!

Kafe Karachi falls into the same category as Lahore Kebab House in the sense both serve the purpose of providing you with a fast food balti and kebab dining experience. You have the opportunity to relax and eat your meal in your own time but don’t expect any fancy extra. On the other hand I have to say I was surprised by the coordinated yellow napkins that were on each table maybe they are going for that Michelin dining experience after all!

With a full window frontage there is plenty of light coming into Kafe Karachi with two flatscreen tv screens at each end of the restaurant providing an entertainment option. Last week at Krahi King we were subjected to the Pakistani equivalent of X Factor with a religious twist, the WWE wrestling at Kafe Karachi was much more to my liking!

To balance out the WWE effect which coincidentally has gone PG ( wrestling geek coming out! ) Kafe Karachi has adorned its wall with religious imagery of various mosques from the Muslim World.

Food  I hear you cry 🙂

Our trip to Kafe Karachi coincided with a late lunch so we  didn’t indulge in the same manner we did at the boys night out at Kafe Karahi which by the way was a riot! For starters we stuck to a portion of chicken pakora which seems to be my starter of choice. I think I need to diversify my selections for future reviews!  The chicken pakora was not up to the standard of my Mushtaq chicken pakora benchmark but it was ok. I’m still waiting for a chicken pakora to blow me away I don’t think its going to happen just yet.

For our mains we had a mix of a Patera balti with rotis and nan, grilled chicken, masala fish, sheesh kebabs and fries. One of my reservations about places like Kafe Karachi and Lahore Kebab House is the pre prepared baltis. I understand the rationale for this from a fast food and convenience perspective but it flags up a red alert to my stomach which refuses to order a balti that has been sittting in the counter for any number of hours or god forbid days! Luckily one of my fellow diners was a lot braver than me but he has spent time in the roughest terrains and localities in the world in his role as relief worker!

The Patera balti which is a popular alternative to chicken can be described in one word SALTY! The Patera itself was well cooked, the meat tender and coming off the bone but the balti itself was spoiled by too much salt. The full grilled chicken received a much more favourable response, it was well cooked and well seasoned. Judging by the pile of bones at the end of the meal I can only assume my fellow diners had no complaints though both felt the portion of fries was far too dry.

Birmingham is the home of the Masala fish and when we have hosted Artists, Imams and Film Makers from around the world we always make sure they try the Masala fish. I’ve reviewed the humble Masala fish in a number of my reviews to date and I am pleased to say Kafe Karachi delivers a great Masala fish and matching the standards experienced at Desi Express and Krahi King.  The sheesh kebabs were ok but not on a par with the delightful sheesh kebabs we had last week at Krahi King.

To finish off the meal we had some desi tea and Jalebi. Kafe Karachi succeeded where Krahi King failed and served their tea in cups with no stains or spills, though I have to say the sugar pot and spoon have seen better days! The Jalebi was ok it was served warm but I fear that was more courtesy of a dose of radiation in the microwave than it coming fresh from the cooker. Microwaved Jalebi doesn’t do it for me but I have to confess I prefer my Jalebi cold and crispy and not warm and oozy.

In terms of service and price Karachi King delivers, prices are competitive and the service was quick. The restuarant has a relaxed atmosphere and it was evident that a lot of the diners were regulars as there was lots of good natured banter between the staff and customers.

To sum Karachi King up its very similar to the offer at Lahore Kebab House down the road. The menu options are very similar as are prices. What scares me about the similarity is the lack of diversity in the food offer surely Karachi and Lahori cuisine can’t be so similar.

Quality of Food: 6 ( Masala fish would score higher )

Quality of Service: 7

Quality of Space: 6 ( A bit overcrowded for my liking in terms of number of tables, but covers = cash )

Price: 8

Overall rating: 6.5

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