Pak Darbar is an affordable Pakistani restaurant franchise which probably started off as a Karachi Darbar wannabe (itself a Ravi clone). Today Pak Darbar has no less than eight branches dotted across Dubai, including this new one in Garhoud, and is a respectable brand in its own right. I am a big Karachi Darbar fan, preferring it to the iconic Ravi. Let me tell you straight away, if you like Karachi Darbar, you will like Pak Darbar – they’re almost indistinguishable. In fact, the only difference I found was that this Pak Darbar has a cafeteria style food counter where all their curries are on display and served from. That’s it.
The food at Pak Darbar is very good. In the words of my Welsh food buddy, Bruce (who recommend Pak Darbar to me in the first place), it’s honest food. And he’s absolutely right, this is food which doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not. You’ll find no fusion gastro-bullshit here, just simple Mughlai cuisine at its back-to-basics best and very similar to the food at Ravi’s of Satwa when it first opened.
Every meal at Pak Darbar starts with a complementary salad and a bowl of raita. I loved the rita; it had the watery consistency of Chaas and was heavily spiced with ground black pepper and toasted whole cumin. I drank two bowls in quick succession before our food arrived and then had a third with my meal – yuuuuuuuum! We were first served Mutton Seekh Kababs which, as good as they were, lacked something… perhaps some (green) Mint-Coriander Chutney?
Both the curries we ordered were good; Beef Masala (which was their dish of the day) and my new favourite Mughlai dish, the orgasmicly good, Mutton Badami Korma. This is a simple, lightly spiced curry in which cotton tender pieces of mutton are served with a rich brown gravy topped with a generous drizzling of cream and a sprinkling of whole almonds and shelled pistachios; stir in the cream and the colour lightens by two shades and the taste enhances by ten. I am in love.
I wasn’t bowled over by everything though. The Brain Masala, which we were so happy they still had at lunch time, joined the spiceless, flavourless, characterless Mutton Biriyani and (complimentary) Daal as being the disappointments of an otherwise wonderful meal. I will definitely not order any of them the next time I visit. I’ll stick to Pak Liyari for my Pakistani biryani fix in the future.
Contrary to some of the reviews I’ve read which suggest service is bad or slow at Pak Darbar, our waiter was friendly, fast and attentive. In all honesty, I did find the fact that our big, butch waiter was wearing what looked suspiciously like mascara a little spooky, but Bruce reminded me that this is common among some communities. So, this is a clean, well maintained restaurant where three food warriors pigged out on five mains, all with meat, and fresh bread – all for under AED90! Unbelievable! We got four complimentary dishes. How can you give this restaurant anything but a clear thumbs up?
Hey! Now read this –
Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on email@example.com.