Let’s settle this first. The name ‘Alvigha’ was derived by pairing together of two family surnames — ‘Alvi’ and ‘Agha’.
Alvigha, a restaurant nestled in the heart of Gulshan-i-Iqbal in Karachi, famously serves barbecue, karrhai and handi. It opened its doors to the world just over two years ago, during the coronavirus pandemic and became a resounding success, mostly by word of mouth.
Alvigha sits on the extremely busy junction that connects Yaseenabad and Federal B. Area with Gulshan-i-Iqbal, situated opposite the popular Samdani Hospital landmark in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block 2.
Although Alvigha pretty much serves what all other barbecue restaurants and eateries already have to offer on their menus, what makes Alvigha ‘special’ — and an eatery that attracts customers like a magnet every single day of the week — is the very affordable and generous barbecue platter on a bed of highly aromatic barbecued rice.
The large stainless steel paraat (platter) is enough to feed a party of up to three very hungry foodies, which arrives fresh from the kitchen situated somewhere deep within the bowels of Alvigha, and the top secured with aluminium foil.
If there’s anything good to come out of the coronavirus pandemic it’s Alvigha, a success story orginating in a moment in time otherwise marked by doom and gloom
The succulent bits of barbecue chicken, placed on a bed of a generous portion of barbecued rice and a flame-grilled ripe tomato, are juicy, tender and soft to the touch and are served with a side of tangy imli chutney (tamarind sauce) in miniscule plastic containers. The stainless steel cutlery provided at tables is packed in plastic bags to preserve hygiene. It certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to food quality and value-added service.
All around us we could see eager diners digging into their food after waiting patiently for around 25 minutes, the given time between the placement of order and its serving.
Some of the customers who were dining said they have been coming regularly (once, sometimes even twice a week, especially on weekends) to Alvigha, with family and friends to feast on their barbecue platters. They stated that it is the quality of food and the very reasonable, nominal prices that continues to draw them back.
Besides the platters, the chicken karrhai is also quite popular and although we haven’t sampled it yet, there’s reason to believe we most certainly won’t be disappointed.
After settling our bill for the food (yes, we critics do pay for our food) and a generous tip for our server, the photographer and I weaved our way from inbetween the narrowly spaced dining tables and began the rather tedious task of navigating our way out of the tightly packed parking before meandering through the rather heavy traffic to reach our respective destinations.
The intimidating crowds all around us, be it the busy thoroughfare, the Alvigha open-air dining area or even the nearby parking area, was a bit too much to take in one go — and in large doses.
Such an overactive, busy environment and its surroundings have its own demands and perks and makes you feel vibrant and alive. The feeling that life’s calling out to you is all around you at Alvigha; how you respond is entirely up to you.
The writer is a member of staff.
He tweets @faisal_quraishi
Published in Dawn, EOS, May 21st, 2023