Funny how it’s actually in Dubai where I get to dine in all these Pakistani restaurants that are famous back home. It’s embarrassing how I am so unaware with what’s in and what’s not in my own birthplace. Growing up, we didn’t really have the tradition of eating out on a regular basis. Food, if it was ever bought from a restaurant, has always been ordered as take out and consumed in the comforts of our home. Dining out was considered too expensive, a hassle, and a sign that the lady of the house was too lazy to cook.
Few years later things have changed dramatically. Dining out has become fashionable in Karachi so much so that a family must dress up nicely and eat in a restaurant at least once a month. I left Karachi thirteen or fourteen years ago. That is a huge gap. When I visit, it’s only for a few days. I don’t even know my way home from the airport anymore.
Fortunately for me, Dubai is home to several famous Pakistani restaurants that instantly remind me of home; it’s through food that I reconnect with my birthplace. One such place is BarB.Q. Tonight along Jumeirah Road.
The Location and First Impressions:
The best way to find BarB.Q. Tonight along Jumeirah Road is to spot the Union Flag, that massive U.A.E. flag that flaps proudly in the
warm hot desert wind. This restaurant is just across the road. There is ample parking space, and the restaurant can accommodate up to 400 people (they have both indoor and outdoor seating arrangements). The interiors are clean and very tastefully decorated.
I went there twice; once with colleagues for lunch, then dinner a few weeks later with family.
Although it has been an established name in Karachi since the late 80′s, BarB.Q. Tonight is still pretty new in Dubai, having opened in February this year. They take pride in the freshness of ingredients that they use, homemade traditional recipes, and value for money.
The Food and Drinks:
One fine evening at work, a few minutes after I’ve finished my dinner, Saima ji —a friend so close to the family that she’s considered one of my sisters—invites me and Masood to have dinner with her and the rest of my sisters at BarB.Q. Tonight. “But we’ve eaten!” I tell her. “It doesn’t matter,” she replies and adds, “We’re downstairs waiting for you. We’re not leaving without you two.” Turns out we are celebrating her promotion at work! She doesn’t tell us right away. It’s only after Masood and I tell her that we are only ordering drinks does she tell us that we must eat because we’re celebrating.
With BarB.Q. Tonight, it’s always a better option to order buffet. They have so many options when it comes to kababs and tikkas.
And since I am a very shy person and can not gather up the courage to actually go and take pictures of the buffet spread, I decide to arrange the food in my plate so that I can photograph them for you. I take you all so seriously that way.
Of all the starters, this is my favorite:
It’s just fried eggplant with yogurt or sesame dip. I know, I should have asked considering how much I love it. I’ve garnished it with tabouleh, a popular salad in this part of the world, traditionally made of bulgur, tomato, parsley and mint, often including onion and garlic, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Yum!
Crispy fried fish on a bed of freshly-made hummus, drizzled with mint chutney, and paired up with tabouleh. I believe I consume a dozen of these.
Chicken seekh kebab with sweet and sour tamarind chutney. My favorite. I want to make these at home. Scratch that. I’d love my sister, Sanaf, to make these for me. She makes amazing kebabs.
There are so many other options on the buffet spread, like biryani, Afghani pulao, vegetarian curries, a variety of meat and seafood curries, and naan, etc. There is also a couple of Chinese dishes (with a desi twist, of course).
We are also impressed with the choices in dessert. That picture of my plate shows bread pudding, or shahi turkey, with vanilla custard and berries. They are served separately; I just brought them together for photography’s sake.
Oh, and there were mangoes! Lots and lots of them. The staff keeps up with making sure the tray of mangoes is never empty, but people seem to attack the mangoes from all sides. However, the customer service is so good that when we inform one of the waiters that the mangoes are gone (again!) he actually brings a tray of sliced mangoes to our table!
And the way Masood and my sisters eat mangoes…
Dining at BarB.Q. Tonight is always a pleasant experience. I love the ambience of the restaurant, the customer service, and the grilled items on their menu. The price is pretty reasonable too: AED 35 for lunch buffet, and AED 45 for dinner buffet.
BarB.Q. Tonight’s website.
Location:HH Hamdan Award Complex Jumeirah Road (in front of the Union Flag), Dubai Tel: 800 BARBQ (22727)