LAHORE: Over the past couple of months, I passed by the Urban Kitchen several times and was quite curious to see how it was shaping up. The exterior looked funky and upbeat and I made up my mind to check it out when the eatery opened.
After much to and fro, my colleague and co-author of this review finally made it to this new spot in Lahore.
As we entered the restaurant, we were met with a trendy and buoyant atmosphere. Thankfully, the main foyer/waiting area had no tables; they were either located on the side or upstairs where the main part of the restaurant was.
A wall right in front was full of black and white pictures from the history of Pakistan, including a photo of Wasim Akram and Imran Khan, a photo of Ava Gardener from when she visited Pakistan and an old advertisement of a cooking oil company. As we waited to be seated, the photographs provided us with a quick trip down the memory lane.
The ambience of the cafe was upbeat. The interior gave New York’s Brooklyn feel with the yellow and black theme, neon lights, rock music in the background, and a mural on one of the walls. The cafe’s quirky atmosphere set the tone of our moods and we felt fresh despite a long day at work.
Urban Kitchen’s menu is unlike other restaurants. It is short and yet has a variety of cuisines to offer: from Pakistani to Italian to Thai and southeastern, there is something to everyone’s taste.
Honestly speaking, the appetizers menu was enough to get us drooling and upon the owner’s recommendation, we finally placed our orders.
First up we had the Montreal Poutine and unusual mixture of chips, gravy and cheese. Along with that, we had Picante Poppers. Out of the two, my personal favourite was the poppers. The chicken, the cheese and the sauce were cooked to perfection and I was on a literal roll popping one after another. But these poppers are not for the faint-hearted since their spice level is pretty high, in fact, it’s almost exhilarating.
For the main course, we ordered The Big Cheesy, Hakka Fried Prawns and Oishii Katsu Curry. Both the prawns and curry had a southeastern undertone to them. The prawns were delectable. They were crispy on the outside and extremely soft on the inside which made them an absolute treat.
The Big Cheesy was a typical beef burger with cheese, sauces and onion rings. However, what put this aside from the rest was the patty, which despite being big in size was cooked perfectly to the core and was full of flavour down to the last bite.
After eating, two appetizers and three main courses between two people, both of us were in a literal food coma. However, the dessert still remained and just as we were recovering from our out of the world experience, the desserts appeared before us: a Nutella Bread Pudding and Fudging Hot Brownie. The desserts made for a sweet ending to the meal plummeting us further into a whirlwind of ecstasy.
Pakistan Today got a chance to speak to the man behind the eatery, Faisal Khan. Coming from a family of bankers and himself a graduate in the field of business management, Khan said that he fell in love with food while studying in the United States. However, he emphasised that he was a cook and not a chef since he has had no formal training, just years of experience of eating and feeding others.
“While studying in the US, I started experimenting with food and the idea of opening up my own restaurant was born,” he stated at length. “Urban Kitchen is a passion project and a place aims to be different, chic and relaxing to those who come here.”
He elaborated that he came from a family of bankers and in fact worked in a bank for a while, but left that after a while to join his father’s business. However, he still did not find what he was looking for and eventually set up his restaurant, turning his brainchild into reality.
Khan told us that each dish on the menu has been designed by him and he has personally trained all of the chefs.
Talking about Urban Kitchen, which is located just a little off Mini Market, Faisal commented that opening the eatery in the heart of the city i.e. Gulberg was a conscious choice because it is a place which caters to the Lahoris’ need of being seen and of dressing up, along with providing them good food. He added that the eatery also offers live music.
The restaurant has had several high-profile guests in attendance as well including Imran Khan and Ayesha Sana.
“Even though there are locations in Lahore which are being touted as food streets, I always wanted to open my first branch in Gulberg,” he said signing off.
Our picks from the menu: Picante Poppers, Hakka Fried Prawns, Fudging Hot Sundae
–Additional inputs from Ayesha Bibi