Gon Pacci is a relatively less talked about restaurant that has opened up recently in Karachi and offers a plethora of delicious dishes from varied cuisines. Located on main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, the spacious eatery is spread over two floors; with wooden panelling, lots of plants and dimly lit niches, the décor is pleasing to the eye and makes for a relaxing environment. The deep leatherette sofas and cushioned chairs complement the cosy ambience. In fact, the name of the eatery, Gon Pacci, roughly translates to a ‘peaceful place’ in Italian, according to the owner.
The menu is extensive, to say the least. An interesting array of appetisers is on offer. Since we were a particularly large party, we managed to sample quite a variety. For starters we opted for Artichoke Dip, Salsa Bites and Spicy Chilli Prawns. The first won the popularity contest hands down. Served with crisp garlic bread, the freshly baked artichoke and spinach dip with parmesan cheese was succulent and polished off in no time. The Salsa Bites, comprising crispy fried chicken chunks served with spicy salsa were also appetising, though the tangy salsa tasted more like buffalo wings’ sauce than salsa. The Spicy Chilli Prawns served in a fried basket were every bit as spicy as they claimed to be; though the prawns were a trifle rubbery for my taste, they were enjoyed by most present. The complimentary bread basket with an assortment of freshly baked bread served with a tantalising chilli-garlic and sun-dried tomato sauce was also a hit.
The variety of soup on offer is a trifle limited; however, the chef is quite obliging and willing to conjure a broth even if it is not on the menu. Much to the delight of one of our party members he prepared a delicious Clear Thai Soup when requested. The Roasted Tomato Soup, on the other hand, which is on offer, is nothing to write home about.
From the salad section we ordered Caesar Salad, a wholesome combination of crisp iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken and cheese strips doused in just the right amount of dressing to keep it from getting soggy.
From the entrees section the Roasted Chicken comprising marinated chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach came accompanied with creamy caper sauce, mashed potatoes and garlic rice. The flavour of the sauce overpowered the chicken to some extent and although the presentation of all the dishes was attractive, one felt that they would have been the better for a variety in the sidelines — most dishes were accompanied by garlic rice. We also felt that portions were somewhat small, but the sidelines helped to make the meal filling.
The Potato Wrapped Snapper was a delicious piece of fish wrapped in potato strips and cooked in fondue sauce. One only wished that there had been at least two fillet pieces instead of one as it left one craving for more. The Moroccan Style Chicken was also a good choice, comprising grilled chicken escalope served with artichoke salsa and sautéed veggies.
In a bid to test the restaurant’s multi-cuisine offering, we then ordered a Prawn Teppanyaki and weren’t disappointed. Comprising stir-fried spicy prawns with mixed vegetables served with garlic rice, the dish received a thumbs-up from our entire party. The Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb however, comprising lamb coated with green herb crust and served with pink peppercorn sauce, could have fared better had it been more tender, although the sauce was delicious. The Lamb Shank, though cooked in tasty lamb gravy, faced the same verdict: a tad too tough for our liking.
Another good choice was the Stuffed Chicken in Mushroom Sauce which consisted of pan-seared chicken breast pieces stuffed with green beans and carrots accompanied by spaghetti aioli. As for the Normandy Snapper, the only grouse we had with it, as with most of the dishes, was that it contained only one piece of grilled fish fillet which left one yearning for more, and it was only thanks to the sidelines in the form of the ubiquitous garlic rice, vegetables and hot potatoes that one felt satiated after the meal.
Gon Pacci also has Thai and Mongolian dishes on offer. Our party tried Thai Style Prawns in Curry Sauce — served with garlic rice, but of course! — and Mongolian Chicken Curry comprising stir-fried chicken cubes with spicy gravy, served with, you guessed it, garlic rice and vegetables, which boasted a pleasing sweet and sour taste. The last in our huge party ordered Herb-crusted Chateaubriand. Served with pepper sauce and sautéed vegetables, the steak turned out to be cooked a bit rare and was chewy although the order had been for medium-well done. However, the staff was obliging and within no time had re-emerged with the steak done to taste.
For dessert, we ordered the rather unusual Mocha Caramel, a coffee-chocolate pudding with caramel on top, a unique combination which was an instant hit with everyone. The Chocolate Magma, our second dessert choice, didn’t disappoint either; with hot chocolate oozing out of a baked shell, the lava cake was done to perfection.
With great music playing in the background — all my ’70s favourites — and efficient service, not to mention great tasting and a varied cuisine (they just have to learn to make their meat items more tender) the restaurant is definitely worth a visit.