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Where a buffet makes great sense

October 14, 2012

It had been over two years ago that I tried the buffet offered by Shezan in the DHA Main Market, and it was a very nice experience. A social event saw us there to experience just how much had changed.

The event was thanks to the gentleman supreme Col Khalid Masood Khan and his wife. It seems arriving for a dinner at 8pm is very early in Lahore, for it was an empty hall. By the time we left it had just begun to fill up. The first impression was one of extreme cleanliness with shining new stainless steel containers and welcoming staff. We started off with a Mulligatawny soup, and followed it with two ‘sorties’ to the serving area.

In the first round, I went for baked chicken cheese pie, a few steamed vegetables and a blob of a small chicken steak in thick brown sauce. The pie was very mild and made it very tasty with the steamed vegetables. Added to each morsel was the brown sauce, and it made for a delicious meal. The small chicken steak was stronger than the pie, and that made it an ideal combination. I liked this first round.

My daughter, on a visit from abroad, went for the ‘desi’ food, and she made three trips to the serving area. My next trip saw me go for a rather non-traditional approach, for the variety was immense and enough to confuse. But it is always better in such circumstances to choose a definite meal and not be distracted by the impulse behaviour of wanting to try everything. I went for a bit of noodles, added a bit of chicken Manchurian and again added a few vegetables. To my mind this gave me a nice small meal. The noodles were strong as was the Manchurian. It was the vegetables that managed to satisfy my desire to balance tastes.

I must mention the ‘desi’ food available, and the quality is superb. The sweets were nice and I went for the traditional ‘kheer’.

Not bad at all. Let us judge this experience on the Michelin Scale of Averages of one to nine. For food taste it gets six, for quality seven, for service six, for ambience seven, for quality of crockery and cutlery a hefty seven, for variety seven is just about fine, and for prices it gets four (it is not cheap at all). This gives this experience just about 6.3 out of nine, which is fine. It has improved since last time, which just shows that professional management makes a difference. Definitely recommended.

CHINESE GALORE: It seems almost every eatery in Lahore has a Chinese section on their menu. Such is the sway of this food.

My friend, Khwaja Usman, wanted to treat his friends to genuine ‘rogan josh’ with ‘mutton pilau’. He decided to drive to Marakka to the well-known Marhaba Hotel. Once the ordering stage came almost every dish, he asked for was not available. All he could get was Chinese.

So the gang decided to walk out and try another eatery two miles up the road. The cuisine was excellent, they claim. I must visit it before I write about it. The same is the case in posh places like the top clubs of Lahore. I have surveyed the set-piece banquet menus and you will be surprised that they refuse to serve a meal unless you agree to order their Chinese too. It is about time better sense prevailed. This is the puritanical streak in me. — AMSHE