This past week, I happened to drop by at the newly launched Gulberg branch of a pan-Asian restaurant; I had visited its compact Defence branch last year and found the food pretty decent. Novu’s new branch, located at Hussain Chowk in Gulberg, is spacious, beautifully adorned with oriental paintings, wooden frames and furniture, turquoise and golden upholstery, and a live sushi bar.
Novu may be one of the many restaurants dotting the town claiming to serve pan-Asian cuisine. What sets them apart from each other is the quality of food, presentation and, of course, flavour. Because some eateries conveniently and confidently pass off localised Chinese food as Thai. The menu here is clear and concise and offers the standard Thai dishes that almost every other restaurant offering Asian cuisine does.
I started off with the Tom Yum Goong soup. This hearty bowl of fiery traditional broth was delicious and comforting on a cold rainy day with well-cooked shrimps, lemon grass and loads of spices. Next up were the Dynamite Prawns. Now you’d really have to be a novice to get these wrong. And Novu did a pretty good job – just that they could have been a tad bit fresher, but the prawns had the flavour nonetheless.
From the main course, I ordered the Juha Fish that sounded scrumptious as soon as the server described it to me. A large fillet of grilled fish was topped generously with a mouthwatering lemon grass and tamarind sauce and served with a choice of rice from egg fried, garlic and sticky; I opted for the classic egg fried rice. While the sauce and rice were a delight, I found the fish to be a bit dry and it also lacked the freshness.
I couldn’t resist the tantalising sushi menu and ordered the Novu Special Roll that turned out to be quite pleasant. This eight-piece raw crab, salmon and prawn roll platter satiated my sushi craving for sure.
One look at Novu’s menu and you’d be reminded of another pan-Asian restaurant not too far from where this is located. But the major difference between the two is price and food quality. Novu has the potential to attract customers for being easy on the pocket for Thai and Japanese cuisine as compared to its competitors, and while the food quality may not be too refined, it sure is pretty good enough to get a reasonable footfall. But eventually, it’s a game of survival of the fittest, and only sustained quality coupled with some originality will help such restaurants stay afloat.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019