November 13, 2010

Weekend stopover - Cafe Koel

November 13, 2010
If you are looking for a place to sit back, breathe some fresh air and indulge in really, really good tasting food Cafe Koel is where you NEED to be. 

Built within a compound, a small pebbled path bordered by trees and lights makes its way into the entrance of the cafe. And you are instantly met with fresh flowery scents riding on soft breezes when you step inside! The cafe has a seating arrangement both indoors and outdoors, to suit everyone's preference. Outside the place is decked up with huge trees that roof over the seating area and rugged wooden chairs and tables. Inside, it is white, soothing and Japanese in style - with long tables where different groups people might end up sharing spaces! I prefer sitting outdoors when I go in the evenings, especially in winters. Whereas indoors is always preferable in the hot afternoons in Karachi!

What I do love about the place is the clear serenity of it. It is very comforting to be able to just relax in this kind of green environment in a city that is usually gray. Moreover there is also an art gallery within this compound that is always a good way to pass the time when your food is being prepared!

Following are some of the ratings as per my experience:

Favorite items on the menu

Spinach and artichoke dip with Kulcha
This dish is the perfect starter to what I eat later on, on my trip to Koel. It is a layer of mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, spinach and artichoke. All baked to perfection with a thin film of golden on top - the kind of enticing golden that cheese turns to entice and overwhelm your taste-buds. It is served with hot, crispy Kulcha naans and is big enough to be shared as an appetizer by two!

Teriyaki Chicken with garlic rice
This is actually my favorite kind of grilled chicken available in Karachi. This platter consists of two large breast pieces of marinated and grilled chicken drizzled with slightly sweet Teriyaki sauce. It is served with a big stick of vegetables sauteed with soy sauce and a lump of garlic rice. This rice is special Korean rice that is mushier than the typical Basmati rice we Pakistanis are used to and is cooked with hints of garlic! 
I love this so much that sometimes I literally just have Cafe Koel Teriyaki Chicken cravings! It is definitely a 9/10 AND a must try!

Baked Chocolate Pudding
This is the dessert that got Cafe Koel famous! It is small when it comes down to looks - a little dumpling of rich brown cake in appearance. But a bite of it gets out oozing a RIVER of hot, silky chocolate and you are soon to realize that it is no dimwitted cake or even small enough to be consumed by only one! Especially after the dip and grilled chicken! A bite of the pudding can send you to heaven and back just so that you can have yet another bite. The outside layer is very much like a cake but only thin enough to contain the overwhelming amount of melted chocolate inside. A 10/10. You have not lived if you have not tried this dessert!

This is the most refreshing drink I have come across in a long, long time. A slushy lemon and mint mixture topped lightly with the kind of spices you would expect only on a road-side cafe. I make it a point to order this the instant I go there especially if I go in the afternoon. It instantly refrigerates your insides and makes you feel energized. It also goes REALLY well with the food mentioned above and is large enough to last through your meal!

Fairly expensive. It would be nicer if Cafe Koel was slightly less expensive - it can cost you up to Rs. 1200 if you order the four items mentioned above. And that is just one person's three course meal you are talking about. But then the large portions and amazing quality pretty much over rides the money factor. Besides Cafe Koel prefers being an exclusive place.

Decent sized.

Service and ambiance
Love the ambiance. The service is fairly decent.

Children friendly

Overall Experience



Answer: Ireland

Zehra Raza

Salman Humayoun

Dearest Kanwal,

To say your review of Koel is generous would be a blatant lie. But then we are all entitled to our own opinion. Having visited the place on 5 occasions, all of which the insistence of a delightful yet stubborn friend of mine, I have failed it on all but one account.

I will agree with your review of the sikanjbeen, it was amazing, the first time i had it anyways, the second time was a disappointment,as was the fire and ice, koel special ilaichi and daal chini tea, the lemonade, and the most recent experience, butter scotch flavored coffee...which in short lacked both of those but had a good layer of coffee froth. (restaurants should ask if people want froth or not)

I have never had anything memorable to eat at cafe koel, though i have yet to try their kulcha dishes. I am impressed with their salad servings, but on a second glance, they seem to shaving off on their costs by sparingly using feta and olives. I do believe they have issues with food nomenclature as well...a tikka is usually a whole, as in complete, chicken quarter am i right? Then why was the grilled paneer tikka i ordered actually 6 chicken botis on skewers served with a bed of salad which included calamari??? i ordered a tikka, and their idea of the use of paneer (aka desi cheese) is off by a long shot.

Serving size is by far one of the lousiest I've ever had!!! Though the display of food is picture perfect, but honestly it all looks the same on the way out.

The one quality of Koel which is above reproach (yes there is one) is its ambiance. As you've rightly mentioned, its amazing for winter nights and summer lunches! Though people allergic to either mosquitoes or mortien coils should opt for the indoor tables.

I realize my review is based on heavy eater settings, but if i'm paying as much as 1200, i can name you a number of places that can hit Koel out of the park.

Good alternative would be Cafe 76 next to lyceum school/college/whatever it really is. Cozy ambiance, good serving size (except for the starters) and reasonable pricing.



my chocolate souffle tastes better :D

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