Krahi King – the return of the reviewer

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where today we made a return to one of our old favourites Krahi King on the Coventry Road in Small Heath. We’ve not been back to Krahi King in a very long time and since we re have returned the team have refurbished the restaurant.

There is still the traditional dining area downstairs which is largely a male domain, the space upstairs is now much more family friendly. Blue is the colour of choice in the new Krahi King with menus and seating getting the full blue treatment.

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On our return we decided to keep things light and didn’t order any of the krahi dishes which sounds odd when you go to the place called the Krahi King but we don’t mind being a bit odd and left field in the pursuit of halal food excellence.

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We ordered the sheekh kebabs which come in a generous helping with a side salad of lettuce, red onion and jalapenos. We would have welcomed some tomatoes but they seem to be in danger of extinction in most South Asian restaurants, we might have to start packing our own parcels for when we eat out! The sheekh kebabs were delicious, there was a slight difference of opinion as to whether they were perfectly cooked or slightly undercooked this would probably be down to individual taste. As far as my taste palette goes they were fine.

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The naan was just what we were expecting it arrived warm and soft without any of the crinkly bits you dread which turn naan orders into oversized poppadoms.

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If I had to pick a weak link in our menu selection then it would have to be the masala fish, it was ok but I expected better, I’d much rather restuarants serve a smaller but thicker portion that you can really sink your teeth into then a longer piece which is so thin around the edges that it feels like you’re just eating crispy masala batter which isn’t great!

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Where the masala fish was a let down the half chicken exceeded expectations, the chicken was perfectly cooked and remained moist, its to easy for chicken to dry out. The portion was a generous size and was definitely the highlight of the meal.

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Overall our return to Krahi King was a success, we didn’t try the full menu but from experience and reader feedback their curry and krahi dishes remain hard to beat. The refurbishment might not win any design and living awards but it has definitely made Krahi King a more welcoming place for families in particular.

Service was excellent, our waiter was attentive without being overbearing and was more than happy to meet our extra little demands that come as standard when you take the kids to a restaurant. Price wise Krahi King is hard to beat. So if you’re looking for traditional desi food outside of the Balti Triangle, Krahi King is hard to beat especially in Small Heath. We would definitely encourage you to take a trip to Krahi King.

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Aman Ali video blogs with the Halal Food Review

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere where we have spent the last two days in the company of the highly entertaining and very engaging Aman Ali a Muslim Comedian from New York who is currently on a Europe wide tour. For those of you who may not be familiar with Aman Ali he is also one half of the duo behind the incredible 30 Mosques in 30 Days project which in our humble opinion is one of the most innovative Muslim led cultural awareness projects we have ever seen.

We’ll be sharing some of Aman’s thoughts, photos and videos from his time in Birmingham where he has been hosted by our friends at Soul City Arts who are based in Birmingham’s alternative arts space the Hubb.

So sit back and enjoy Aman’s first video entry!

For more information on the 30 Mosques project visit http://30mosques.com/

 

Shere Khan Halal Food Review – Birmingham / Star City

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere, this week we bring you a review of Shere Khan courtesy of our regular HFR correspondant Altaf H Kazi. Over to you!

I had arranged to go out to eat with one of my outlaws we decided to go for the safe bet that is Shere Khan. It also occurred to me that no one had done a review of this old haunt in Birmingham. So with my Halal Food Review hat on I made my way there.

Shere Khan is located in the Star City Complex offering a unique Pakistani Cuisine experience. I use the term unique as being an Indian I notice that a lot of Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisine is often advertised as Indian cuisine when it really isn’t.

Walking into Shere Khan you experience a sophisticated modern feel to the place which draws on Moroccan / North African influences. The use of soft and dimmed lighting adds further to the experience and ambiance. The kitchen is visible to diners depending on where you are sitting which can always add to the theatre of the eating out experience.

If you arrive early you get to sit in the entrance waiting area whilst waiting for a table. We were warmly welcomed and the service was impeccable throughout the evening. After every course we were asked if everything was ok and to our satisfaction without it becoming overbearing. The drinks were served promptly and we had no delays in requesting or settling the bill for the evening.

Shere Khan offers a range of starters from mix grills through to kebabs, tikka, paneer and other vegetarian options. We opted for the Shere Khan Combo which included four sheesh kebabs, two lamb chops, three pieces of chicken tikka and a portion of salad.

The starter combo was of a very good standard. The sheesh kebabs were succulent with an array of spices; the lamb chops were exceptional cooked with a range of tandoori spices without overpowering the natural flavour of the lamb. The chicken tikka was also of a good standard but as I took my last bite on the tikka there was an abrupt break to the ambiance and suddenly a Happy Birthday song broke out on full blast!

Now I am a regular at Shere Khan and depending on what time you go on occasions you will have to endure the happy birthday song sometimes up to 5 times in a single evening! Now I’m not a party pooper but a remixed version of Happy Birthday can get annoying after the third or fourth time! There must be a way of it being toned down so it doesn’t impact on everyone in the restaurant but as I said as a regular at Shere Khan it is part and parcel of the offer and experience so be prepared!

With a successful starter lining our stomachs we eagerly awaited our mains. We had ordered both the Prawn Bhuna and Chicken Jalfrazi selected from an extensive menu of curries, grilled chicken and some additional Chef Specials and salad options. These were accompanied by three naans and one roti.

On arrival of our food my outlaw remonstrated that both portions were on the small side! I assured him that it was a barakah (blessed) portion J However; on reflection the portions were served in small serving dishes. I normally eat my wheatabix minis out of a bigger bowl!

The dishes themselves however were full of flavour with a little heat added to the equation. They were well prepared and delivered on taste as per our expectations. With the prawn dish we got an adequate number of prawns and there was actually chicken in the chicken jalfrezi! (Unbelievable, I know). I have been to too many places where you only get three or four prawns and a few pieces of chicken in your dishes, Shere Khan delivers better than that ensuring you get exactly what you asked for.

Onto our desserts or shall I say puddings! Shere Khan offers a wide range from Sticky Toffee Pudding through to Chocolate Melt in the Middle and Movenpick Ice Cream. In previous visits I have tried both the Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Chocolate melt in the middle, both were delicious!

We opted for the Ice Cream. Now the Chocolate and Vanilla Movenpick is like the Bentley of Ice Cream it is refined and sophisticated with both power and substance. So as you can imagine, I was quite looking forward to my portion! The ice cream was just as described and hit the spot however they presented it with a serving of cream! I would much rather have a bigger scoop and portion of the ice cream I ordered than a complimentary portion of cream! It’s a bit like buying a Bentley and then decorating it with a magic tree and a tissue box dispenser. (you know, gold and red- the type our dads and uncles have all had!)

Ok that’s the end of my ice cream induced rant! A word of advice to restaurants don’t serve premium Movenpick with cream, it doesn’t look any prettier, it doesn’t add to the taste and you’ll save yourself a bit of money in the process!

Our bill for the evening came to £36.00, which was on the higher side for two people however we did have a mixed grill starter, a prawn course, two desserts and four drinks. If you’re looking to save a few pounds on the bill then cut back on the drinks and stick to water!

The highlights were definitely both the mixed combo starter and the prawn bhuna. The ice cream was what I expected. I had enjoyed my authentic Pakistani meal, although I am still debating the authenticity of the Pakistani roots of the humble Sticky Toffee Pudding!

If you’re looking for a good night out you can’t go wrong with Shere Khan it delivers a good overall experience. For me, the food is akin to the Ronseal of Birmingham- it does exactly what it says on the tin!

Quality of Food – 7
Quality of Décor- 7
Quality of Service- 8
Value for Money- 6

Overall- 7

We are fundraising for the Feed the Poor Charity to support investment in clean water and the distribution of food parcels during Ramadan please make a donation no matter how small.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

To donate via mobile phone text NPWX82 £3 to 70070

You can change the amount from £3 to a lower or higher amount.

Rasoi Halal Food Review – Great Horton, Bradford

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere. We’ve been looking for contributers from outside of Birmingham for a while and we were really pleased to hear from Rachel a resident in Bradford who has agreed to step up to the plate pardon the pun.

Rachel is an active blogger who runs the Dinky Thinks blog which is her wonderful contribution to the blogosphere you can follow the blog by clicking the link above. We’ve got a special edited version of her review of Rasoi in Bradford but for the full fat feature including photos and additional thoughts please do visit her site and add it to your bookmarks. We’re hoping Rachel will be a regular contributor to the Halal Food Review so keep an eye on the site as we broaden our coverage to Bradford and Yorkshire!

You can also follow Dinky Thinks over on Twitter @DinkyThinks. Over to you Dinky!

A new kid has opened up on our block. Rasoi is located right on the traffic lights at Great Horton inBradford and occupies a former pub site. There is no parking but you can probably find a spot on the main road. Rasoi offers a Halal menu and a takeaway service. Eating on this Tuesday evening was me, my fiancée and my father…. All of whom are interested in curry…. Very interested in curry!

The décor is very red and very new and they did have a state of the art sound system, under floor heating and televisions installed. We opted for a drink from the non alcoholic menu (a strawberry lassi, Shirley Temple and glass of water) and have some free poppadoms to munch on whilst we check out the menu. The menu is quite small; which I don’t think is a bad thing to be honest; a lot of places in Bradford have so many items you just get lost trying to find anything you fancy.

The owners were fantastically friendly and courteous and the tables and restaurant were as clean as can be. The food did not come in any sort of hurry, despite how quiet it was, but we were not in a hurry so it was fine!

So to the food…. The menu has a range of English, Pakistani and Indian dishes with vegetarian options and meat too. To start with, we wanted the Dhal Bhaley (fried lentil dumplings) but they didn’t have any. We went instead for a Samosa Chat (meat samosa with chick pea salad) and a Papri Chat (fried crispy dumplings with chickpea salad). Both were delicious and fresh tasting… quite spicy and very tasty indeed.

For main course we choose the Tarka Daal (lentils infused with spices), Achari Ghost (lamb with spicy pickle) and a Lamb Special Balti – accompanied by roti. All was tasty and pretty blummin spicy too.

Rasoi have a special offer on at the moment for a free desert when ordering a main course. Deserts range from Kulfi and Rassmalai through to Jam Roly Poly and Chocolate Fudge Cake.

The meal cost £33 which we thought was great value for the portion sizes and we got leftovers to take home.  I would recommend Rasoi for the food, but it could do with a bit more of a buzz and a few more people…. Which will hopefully come with time – after all they had been open only 5 weeks! 

Read the full review at http://dinkythinks.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/restaurant-review-rasoi-great-horton/ along with more from Dinky.

Quality of Food – 7
Quality of Décor – 7
Quality of Service – 8
Value for Money – 7

Overall Score = 7

 

Royal Watan Tandoori Restaurant Reader Review

Salaams and welcome back to the Halal Blogosphere, today we have a mini review for the Royal Watan Tandoori Restuarant submitted by Halal Food Review reader Ali. The Royal Watan Tandoori is located on the Pershore Road and away from the traditional balti and tandoori hotspot of Sparkbrook so its always great to hear from our readers especially when they are happy to submit a review. The full address for the restuarant is 602-604 Pershore Road, Selly Park, Birmingham, B29 7HQ

Over to you Ali.

I was actually suprised to find that this restaurant had not been reviewed by the Halal Food Review, it may not be as well known as many other halal restaurants due to its location but the quality of food is excellent. I had a chance to visit the Royal Watan Tandoori establishment recently with my family, we were welcomed by a polite waiter and escorted to our table. The restaurant was not too busy with a few groups dining in on the day of our visit.

Once we were seated we were given our menus as well as being served complimentary bottled water( normally its hellish getting waiters to give you water at some restaurants as they want you to buy drinks lol) then we were asked about poppadoms and they arrived with a nice selection of dips. The menu is brimming with choice and is based on a traditional balti concept. For starters we ordered a mixed grill and the waiter also recommended the Kashmiri Fish which we also ordered, it was a nice touch for the waiter to suggest specialities on the menu that we may not have considered otherwise.

Firstly the best word to describe the fish is WOW, it is one of the best fish starters I’ve had with a melt in your mouth taste. The mixed grill was a really generous portion which had a selection of everything in it and there was enough for the whole family. The lamb chops in the mixed grill were really nice if there was to be a criticism then it would be that the mutton tikka was slightly on the hard side and overcooked.

Progressing onto the main course, the waiter recommended that we have our dishes cooked “desi style” and I am glad we made that choice, the lamb karahi was beautifully done, and our second dish of boti kebab again was really well prepared. From the sundries menu we had a medium cheese and garlic nan, which looked as good as it tasted!

One niggle that I had was that the Royal Watan didn’t serve my favourite dessert rasmalai so we opted for milkshakes instead and again they really hit the spot. The atmosphere at this restaurant is cosy, perfect for families with a nice contemporary modern decore. Me and my family are now regulars at this establishment and are always welcomed and treated well.

Value for Money: 9
Quality of the Food: 9
Atmosphere: 8
Would I Go Back: definitely!

Mughal E Azam – The return of the Halal Reviewer!

Mughal E Azam has got our Halal Food Review readers all shook up and its not just the hot Lahori spices the waiting staff pre warn you about before you order your dish!

I’ve now returned from my third trip to Mughal E Azam and I can say with complete certainty it is my favourite dining experience in Birmingham, the service is vastly improved from my first visit but in all fairness that was in the opening week and the food is equal to anything in Birmingham. The portion sizes are great, premium prices don’t always mean micro portions and Mughal E Azam has the balance just right.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the food as so many of our readers are providing feedback I would have to comment that on the three occassions I have been there the tandoori roti has been a let down. The roti is being cooked far to thin and as a result instead of a soft roti you get a dried roti that is doing its best imitation of a poppadom. My request to the chefs would be to add some extra flour and water and give us a roti with some texture to it. Some of the roti was so hard and sharp it could cut through some of the really delicately cooked lamb which was delicious. Other than that no grumbles from Mr HFR!

The menu offers a great choice in the most unique halal dining experience available in Birmingham. If you’ve not had a chance to go down, give Mughal E Azam a go! If you need to go to the toilet don’t wait till you get home, Mughal E Azam has toilets that would be the envy of every Mosque and restuarant in Brumistan!

Quality of Food – 8
Quality of Service – 8 – service is improving with each visit, though the waiting staff can be over eager to interrupt you every 5 minutes!
Quality of Space – 10 – the magic 10 has just been slam dunked!
Prices – 8 – Premium Prices but Premium experience
Overall – 9 – The new standard bearer in Birmingham halal dining.

We are fundraising for the Feed the Poor Charity to support investment in clean water and the distribution of food parcels during Ramadan please make a donation no matter how small.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

To donate via mobile phone text NPWX82 £3 to 70070

You can change the amount from £3 to a lower or higher amount.

Mughal E Azam Restaurant Birmingham

This is a first for the Halal Food Review where we don’t actually complete a review. Yes I sampled the menu but in all honesty I wasn’t really wearing my Halal Food Review hat, mind you I’ve not been wearing it for a while!

So why do I flag up this restaurant? Well to put it simply its probably the most stunning renovation I have seen for any restaurant in Birmingham. Mughal E Azam is located on the border of Hall Green and Sparkhill just past the junction between College Road and Stratford Road. The full address is Church Hall, Stratford Rd, Birmingham, B11 4DA, just pop it in the old satelite navigation and it should get you to the restaurant, there is ample parking on site.

The owners have beautifully transformed the former church into the most attractive balti restaurant you can possibly imagine. They have retained the charm and beauty of the old Church and added some stunning touches in relation to the décor with influences from Mughal India and the Middle East.

If you are looking to take a loved one for a fine dining experience that is pleasing on the eye then look no further. Food wise my experience was generally pleasant with a fantastic starter and a main that could do better but as I said earlier I wasn’t in full review mode.

I definitely plan on returning and will update my review accordingly but for now I would encourage you to experience the restaurant for yourself. The scale of the restaurant also suggests it will be ideal for meetings, functions and intimate weddings. If you happen to be a restaurant owner I would encourage you to go down simply to see how you should design an eating space!

Until the next time, I’ll sign off for now until I hear the familiar call of Food I hear you cry!

We are fundraising for the Feed the Poor Charity to support investment in clean water and the distribution of food parcels during Ramadan please make a donation no matter how small.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

To donate via mobile phone text NPWX82 £3 to 70070

You can change the amount from £3 to a lower or higher amount.

Poplar Balti House – Birmingham

Salaams everyone I hope you’re all in good health and ready to tickle your tastebuds. After many requests from our fantastic “foodies” we decided to review Poplar Balti House on Ladypool Road. Many of you have said that Poplar Balti House is an unsung hero and their Balti’s where second to none. All this information made the HFR team’s mouth water!

As we walked into the restaurant it gave us a classic balti house feel as if we were back in the 1980’s. For me it gave the place a good character however the seating space was awful, it was almost as though we were sitting with the table next to us at one point. The restaurant is narrow and they have tried to fit in as many covers as possible. For entertainment we were treated to the delights of Eastenders on a small tv above the counter!

As for the menu (which was bright purple) it was typical for any Balti house, over 30-40 different combinations of balti’s which was slightly overwhelming when it came to choosing one. At this point I asked the waiter which one he would recommend to which his answer was “Whichever one you like”. It was almost if he could not be bothered, shame but true. Here at the Halal Food Review its not just about food its about the quality of experience and that includes good customer service!

We decided to order but before we did we were presented with a tray of chutneys and pickles (no mango chutney) and then asked if we wanted some popadoms which were not bad however the missing mango chutney did not help matters. The mint sauce was more chilli and less mint and the smallest mouthful was enough to set fire to your tastebuds!

The service was nowhere near brilliant so we decided to order quickly and let the food do all the talking. We ordered something simple and quick for our starters which was a portion of chicken pakoras and a katlama. At no point were we asked if we would like any drinks which meant no Ginger beer for me. The starters took over 20 minutes to arrive at our table, so much for quick and simple. The chicken pakoras were hugely disappointing, whilst it was evident they were freshly made the batter lacked any depth of flavour and the portion size was paltry maybe reflecting the chicken they came from! The katlama was actually pleasant and meaty as opposed to your thick pastry and ‘blade of a knife’ thin keema filling which is so common. At this point my emotions were mixed and my experience of Poplar Balti House was not how I expected however the mains were on their way….

We ordered 3 main balti’s, Chicken Rogan Josh, Keema and Mushroom Balti and Prawns with Spinach, we requested medium chilli factor for the first two and a mild chilli factor for the latter. Thankfully I had ordered a peshwari naan bread, which was very nice and went well with the very spicy balti’s that were more hot than medium or mild! My dining companions however did not have this luxury as they were forcing themselves to eat the “medium” spiced curry with their tandoori roti’s and working up a sweat without having to step foot on a treadmill! The pilau rice was disappointing, we ended up helping ourselves to drinks and constantly struggled to get the attention of the waiting staff.

Poplar Balti was fairly busy for the Friday night but our discerning diners left feeling like we wanted more, the food was ok, not great and the restuarant could definitely improve its customer service. For a group of 4 our bill came to just under £40 which is reasonable for a balti experience in the triangle!

Quality of food – 7 (not quite Balti of the year)
Quality of service – 5 (seen better at a fast food joint)
Quality of space – 5 (more space in a fast food joint)
Prices – 7

Overall – 6

Adil Riyaz
Halal Food Review Team

Al Faisals Food Review – Birmingham

Salaams and welcome to the latest edition of the Halal Food Review.

This week’s review takes me back to the Balti Belt and the Al Faisals restuarant on Stoney Lane in Sparkbrook. For regular readers of the blog you’re fully up to speed with my view that the Balti belt has seen better days but even in demise there are some stand out crown jewels and for as long as I care to remember one of those has been Al Faisals. So it is with trepidation that I decided to review Al Faisals for the blog. I want it to do well but for it to get a good review it really needs to deliver. This blog doesn’t do favours just flavours!

Al Faisals has firmly placed itself at the premium end of the balti market, for those looking for halal food in a tee total environment there is not a better dining destination in terms of décor and ambiance.  From the street view you are greeted by a chic black exterior with large windows that provides a full view of the interior. Parking is available for customers across the road and Al Faisals stands out as a lone beacon of Balti goodness on the Stoney Lane, whilst the remains of the old Adil’s Balti House lay in ruin awaiting reconstruction.

Walking into the restuarant you are enthusiastically greeted by the waiting staff, if you arrive early for your meal there is a sofa area with LCD screen to keep you entertained whilst your guests arrive. The Al Faisals management share my passion for sport so its a great place to chill out whilst waiting for friends and family.

The restuarant has a significant amount of covers and there is also a space upstairs that can be hired for conferences, parties, product launches. The layout of the restuarant lends itself to offering a range of seating choices for both smaller and larger dining parties. At the back of the restuarant there is an open plan kitchen which diners have full view of which again adds to the dining experience.

Our party of four included one toddler and a newborn and Al Faisals is one of the city’s better restaurants when it comes to accommodating family diners in the best of Kashmiri traditions and this was reflected in the number of diners who had brought children and babies with them.

I feel its important I flag up a couple of points in reference to the toilets which sounds odd for a food review but Al Faisals have excellent toilet facilities and most importantly they also have toilet facilities for disabled diners and a nappy changing facility within the disabled toilet. Little things like this go a long way to making a restuarant welcoming long before you try anything on their food menu.

Food I hear you cry! 😉

Every meal at Al Faisals begins with a tray of poppadoms and pickles and sauces which keep you going as you look through the menu. The pickle and sauce selection is fantastic including traditional pickles, mango chutney, chilli sauces and mint and yoghurt based sauces. A tip to any diner is to keep a selection of your favourite sauces off the tray for when your starters and mains arrive.

For starters we ordered the chicken boti and lamb boti. Our mains selection included chicken tikka masala, karahi ghost, pilau rice and a traditional naan. We also ordered a jug of the famous Mango lassi.

Our starters arrived promptly and were a generous portion. Both starters come with a generous accompaniment of a side salad which is inventive, colourful and places most balti restuarant side salads to shame.  The chicken was beautifully cooked as was the lamb which comes a generous coating of masalas  that add a fusion of flavour to the tender taste of the lamb. Al Faisals remains one of the only balti restaurants that serve their food on warm plates which goes a long way to keeping the food warm throughout your meal.

Maryam the most demanding eater at the table happily ate from both the lamb and chicken starters. At this point its also worth pointing out the excellent level of customer service at Al Faisals. Drinks were promptly served, water was provided, a smaller glass and a straw was provided for Maryam and they were attentive to any requests we had.

The Mango lassi at Al Faisals in my humble opinion is the best I’ve tasted anywhere, its thick, creamy and an absolute delight! I would recommend that an Al Faisals dining experience would not be complete without trying the Mango lassi. Prices by the glass are a bit steep so if you are in a larger dining party I would definitely recommend ordering a jug, believe me when I say it will be finished! Speaking of Mango lassi, Maryam had an accident with her glass when she decided to go all greek and smash her glass to the floor! Again the customer service at Al Faisals comes to the fore, they were prompt in clearing up the mess and the glass and didn’t make you feel like you’ve just committed murder!

The mains of Karahi Ghost and Chicken Tikka Masala were equally satisfying. The Karahi ghost was rich in flavour and texture and the ghost was served in small bite sized pieces that makes it easier to consume especially for younger diners. The chicken tikka masala was equally well flavoured, mild and the chicken was cooked to perfect. Both dishes went really well with the naan and rice accompaniments.

I have yet to come away from eating at Al Faisals feeling disappointed, its become one of the rarities of the balti dining circuit in Birmingham a virtual banker for quality of service and food. The dining space is first rate, the customer service is excellent and the food is of the highest standard and attention is paid to the finer details of extras that add that premium value to the experience which is reflected in the prices which are higher than anywhere in the balti triangle.

I would definitely recommend Al Faisals to any readers particularly parents, large dining parties and those entertaining guests from out of town.

Quality of Food 9 – The starters were fantastic and the Mango Lassi is out of this world

Quality of Service 9

Quality of Space 9 – Great dining space, excellent rest room facilities, and a lounge space for waiting for your late guests

Price – 8 – Definitely the most expensive option in the balti triangle but you definitely get a premium experience.

Overall rating 9

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