Islamabad Food Scene: Warehouse


I have been away from the food blogging scene for a while, as I continued to get disappointed with the inconsistency in quality of food and service at most restaurants in the city. But my few visits at Warehouse have convinced me to come back; that says a lot in itself.

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Warehouse is a (relatively) new, cozy café in town with a very limited menu but everything on the menu is fantastic! Can’t say about the soups as I am yet to try them.

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There’s nothing too fancy about the food, the items are simple, well thought of and quality & taste are always on point.  Meat is always tender and succulent but not too overwhelming.

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My favorite aspects of the café are the drinks and hygiene. We know hygiene is a big issue when dining out in Pakistan, so the open kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared, does help.

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And as for the drinks, the focus is on quality (and presentation); that’s what makes them one of my favorites in town. The smoothies are to die for, with fresh fruit as opposed to canned and the mojitos have the correct balance of citrus and sweet ingredients. Presentation in a mason jar only helps.

Be sure to carry cash, they do not accept cards.

Exploring Skardu, Pakistan


Earlier this morning, in a conversation with my family about all the places we’d been to and explored in our lives, it dawned on me how much of our country we left unexplored. While there are places we’ve been to, there’s so much more out there.  So, in that spirit, I thought I’d document my trip to Skardu, a few years ago. It is probably the most memorable trip I have taken in Pakistan.

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We started our trip by reaching the Skardu airport, which is located between the hills in a valley, which makes the approach of the flight, not the most straight forward one. From there, we made our way to the Shangrila.

Shangrila Resort

We had to travel through Balististan to get from Skardu to Shangrila resort. Baltistan is relatively urbanised with proper roads and shops, which means you can shop for some ethnic garnets, rubies and pashmina along the way but you’d find most other places don’t have the best roads and drive is a rather adventurous one. Having said that, it’s nothing new for the drivers there; so there’s not much to worry about.

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Expect driving from over lakes and along the cliffs. It’s the closest you get to heaven in this world. At Shangrila resort you can enjoy a nice meal in a hut surrounded by water (I don’t remember the food being very exceptional though), in a valley between the mountains. Many people also choose to stay there for a few days.

Upper Kachura

Our next stop was Upper Kachura, where there are more lakes and nature waiting to be explored. The best thing about the place is that not many people come this far, so it is impeccably calm. Here at Upper Kachura, I saw the most beautiful lake in my life. The only comparison I could make with that water is of a mirror. Given the bitter cold weather (and the water) I didn’t dare take a swim, but the cold didn’t keep my father and brother from taking a dip. It’s a swim they will remember for life.

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In this area, they say the fruit grows itself, they don’t have to plant seeds or irrigate the area. So, it is not a surprise that no one will stop you from just picking an apple, pear or apricot from the trees and enjoying the most juicy and sweet fruit ever. There’s lots of amazing dry fruit you could buy too.

Shigar Fort

A little drive away from Skardu, is the Shigar Fort. This was build back in the 17th century and has been restored and well-kept, thankfully. They have also converted some of the rooms into residences, where you could hire the room to experience royal life back in the days.

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Satpara Dam

On our last few days in Skardu, we paid a visit to the Satpara dam, which was still under construction as that time. I am not quite sure what the situation is like anymore. But it was quite a drive and view.

By the end of the trip, we all had experienced nature like we had never before. But this only reminds of all the amazing places I haven’t explored yet, including Kaghan, Naran, Nanga Parbat, Kashmir – Perhaps, they should be next on my list?!

Islamabad Food Scene: Smokin’ Joes


Earlier today, recommending restaurant to a colleague, I realized how long it has been since I reviewed one myself. So, here I am. This break does not in any way mean that I have not been eating out much. In fact I have discovered some really nice places to eat in Islamabad, while many still remain on my list. One of the amazing places I have been to lately is Smokin’ Joes.

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It is an Italian restaurant in F10 with a really quirky and diner-ish vibe, yet classy. There are aquariums, fountains and really welcoming interior/ lighting. The funny thing is that we’ve been to this place three times now and it has not officially been launched as they are still finalizing the menu and dealing with some legal modalities, but they wouldn’t mind serving you nevertheless.

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The food has been consistently pleasing. The lasagna and pasta Alfredo are probably the best in town. The lasagna has a crispy top layer, with a very cheesy and succulent layers underneath. The pasta has also impressed each time. Their grilled chicken cheese sandwich was quite nice too. If you like cheese and chicken, this is the place to be. They call themselves the ‘pizza & grill’ but sadly I didn’t find pizza up to the mark. It was neither thin crust nor a thick one. While it didn’t completely disappoint me, there are definitely better pizzas in town. When asked, we did recommend them to work on it; who knows they might improve it. Every time the service has been great, even at 1.30AM. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is that its open until 2.00AM, so it’s a great place for an untimely snack.

Lahore Food Scene: Butler’s Chocolate Café


Earlier last week, stopping by for coffee at Butler’s made me want to move to Lahore (a little bit) because if I was there, it would be my happy place where I could go to just enjoy a good read and a cup of some great coffee. Luckily though, I get to go to Lahore every now and then.

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Nevertheless, at Butler’s Chocolate Café I ordered the standard cappuccino, which was probably the best I have had in Pakistan, in terms of presentation and the taste. They serve the coffee with a truffle or chocolate of your choice, which makes it only better.

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With the coffee, I had the nutty brownie, which was undoubtedly the most ‘well thought of’ brownie I have ever had with everything I love: milk & white chocolate, cranberries, hazelnuts and caramel.

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Having had such an amazing experience at the café, I decided to take way some hazelnut praline which too was remarkable, so I really can’t complain about anything at all. I just wish I could go there more often, but it’s not so bad especially as I decided to avoid both coffee and chocolate for a healthier diet.

Beyond the Stereotype


Today, on my way back from dinner I had to pick up a tailoring job from a store and like usual it didn’t take more than a minute. But in this minute, I was forced to stop and think about stereotypes and the desperate need to break out of them.

When I entered the store, my pack was ready at the counter and I went straight for it as the shopkeeper handed it to me. In the queue although were a few European and Korean (looking) guys, waiting for their turn, so while I grabbed my pack I said ‘excuse me, sorry!’, exactly what I would have done if I were back in the UK, but instead of the suspicious stare I got from that group of guys in Pakistan, I would have probably just gotten way. I realised in that moment, that our behaviour (many a times) is not based on what the situation is, but on the pre-assumptions that we bring into that situation about each other and the situation itself.

I could also relate this stare to something which we do to people from our own cultures too. Sadly, you get to see a lot of that here as the inequality is enormous – It is when the more educated, sophisticated people judge the individuals from the lesser well off backgrounds. This got me thinking about the true solution to the problem is to truly and really accept the diversity within human beings and stop judging them based on their backgrounds, colour or ethnicity. Living in one of the most multicultural societies in the world, importance of tolerance is clear in London, where we know that only if someone looks brown, black or white, they wouldn’t necessarily be cultured a certain way or live a certain lifestyle. But I wish we could take that thinking with us everywhere – so that in every relationship, in every situation we’d start with an empty slate, with no pre-assumptions and stereotypes, so we’d really see things for what they are and know people for who they really are.

I think, one understands the true meaning of diversity when they see someone who they assume to be exactly like them, with similar backgrounds but they happen to have completely different ideas of what life is all about and different values and habits. I think that shakes us more than when we see someone from a different culture, doing things similar to us.

What I am trying to say is, whether a person is from your own or another race, you never know what hides under that skin and flesh – and I think we’re all worth that fair chance of showing each other who we really are and what we really stand for because beyond that stereotype is a whole different; and similar person in each one of us!

Making the Transition..


I have had my life changed drastically in the past few days, with lots happening all at once, great and not to great things. I have been making all the efforts I can to learn tricks of the trade of this society and work, which are very different to have I had become accustomed to and it has been an interesting ride, so far.

I chose to blog today about this as I have a better feeling about things today than I usually do. I have been making applications for jobs and the process can become a rather long one, longer than what I am used to in London anyway but today I felt like I was getting somewhere with it. Unlike in London, recruitment in Pakistan is not all about finding the right posts and applying for them wisely, but talking to people and networking is not only a plus, but absolutely necessary if you’re going to get somewhere with it. Through this ‘process’ so far, I have felt all sorts of different things; anxiety, excitement, nervousness … But there’s one thing I didn’t feel so far (thankfully). To me, the worst place anyone can be in is where one can do nothing to change their situation. We are made with no points of self-actualisation and we always need progress in one way or the other, and moving for me is a huge opportunity to progress into the next phase of my life.

So, today I feel that yes the systems, people and culture are different, with their own good and bad sides to it, but they can all be worked around and there’s always something you can do to bring you closer to where you really want to be. And if you’re really going to do something, you better make sure you do it in the best way possible.

I am sure I ‘ll be blogging about ‘the transition’ for a while, with this blog being one of my firsts – but I hope it all leads to somewhere I want to be.

Just Another Chapter..


I have been back home for a few days now, and to be fair – everyone’s been quite kind to me. So many familiar people, so much to share with them and love about them. I am sure this is going to somewhat die down once the weddings and festivities end in a few days’ time. But the truth is, it almost feels like I was never gone, it feels like I have so much more to show for my time and years gone by, we’ve all grown older and wiser (hopefully), but yet we love and live like we always have.

It feels like I am in a safe place, when I am here – lesser to worry about, but I definitely need to get on my own two feet soon and get my life onto a purposeful path. Having said all of this, I also realised today what the bitterest thing about being back was: approval. As I have so many around me who love and relate to me and are with me through each day, they happen to take this upon themselves to quality and approve mine and each other’s decisions and lives. Similarly, they share all the happiness and sorrows.

A deeper thought into this makes me wonder if this is just specific to the culture in Pakistan, or may be no matter where you had all your family and friends, there will be expectations and those who meet them, and those who don’t.

It’s just another great chapter of life, with its own highs and lows – All I can say is that I have no regrets because I have lived and loved every bit of it, so far…