Beef Bulgogi and Bar talk.

Posted: October 23, 2011 by sharmeenalikhan in Uncategorized

I moved to Karachi one week after 9/11 or 11/9 as we should really call it. With a masters of laws, a year in Brighton and three pairs of boots and not a single shalwar kameez, I was due to start working with the Law firm within a week. In this time, I had to set up my room, in my best friend’s apartment, buy a car, learn to manage driving on the Karachi roads, get me a working wardrobe.

For me, Karachi used to be a city of summer holidays. I had never lived here and was unprepared for its pace. I could not deal very well, with the number of plans and people that one could have in the course of the single day. We were in our mid 20’s, the three of us, sharing a very beat up apartment by the sea, and we had all the time in the world to meet, mingle and get to know other like minded individuals. The other two were from LUMS and had access to a whole layer of junior management of corporations on their speed dials. I was more isolated. I had not grown up in the city and did not deal very well with the early cliques, even the young lawyers managed to have because of the Grammar School or St. Mary’s connections. It was harder for me to penetrate their social circles and I really didn’t, until I began to date one of them. How I had met that young man was because the Inns of Bars in England had a workshop and that set the meeting ground.

So I had started dating him and through him, I finally met other younger lawyers. We used to get together for lunches. He would invite a few friends from his office, I would invite a colleague. We would go to the Korean. People would invite friends of friends. And so on a Friday afternoon, when most of the city took a long lunch break, a few young lawyers would meet at the Korean.

This Korean restaurant, located near the Schoen circle is the only place I know that serves beers, even during Ramadan. I know this may be removed by the reviewer here (Faisal) but it is what it is. It served beer and the most amazing sweet potato fritters with chilly chutney and the noodle beef soup with a half fried egg-which if memory serves me right was called Bulgogi. The restaurant has the spiciest Kimchi and a very well priced Sea food pancake. It is an unassuming place. It is nothing more, than a canteen really. But on any given Friday afternoon, it hosts a whole range of corporate types: with the suits, cigarettes beers, and all of the corporate secularity or perhaps pragmatism.

We spent hours and hours Friday after Friday drinking and eating and blowing our well earned Rs.15000 or even Rs. 20000 for some of us. We became a circle of young lawyers. I eventually went to a different firm; acquired more friends. Our circle expanded.

One day, I had decided to go there for dinner. I was shocked at the transformation I had seen between a Friday lunch and a Monday dinner. The waiters were the same; the pet dogs of the owner the same. The menu was the same. But it was eerie on how silent it was. It had an air of being positively creepy with its tube lights and shrimpy smell. I never really went there for dinner again; the excellence of food notwithstanding.

Our circle, as it were, became more aged. We became seniors. Some of us became partners in the law firms our fathers had started. Some of us moved to internal legal positions which paid better. Our clothes became more pressed. The Korean increased the prices by Rs. 20 on each item. The beers became more expensive. We got married. Divorced. Married again. We became incestuous in our legal community. Some of us started smoking. Some of us started going to Shapes regularly. We were no longer the first batch that year. Other new entrants came in to the legal community. The Korean remained constant. The lunches remained part of the scene.

I stayed in Karachi for ten years. The Korean was the only one that remained consistently good. It never once disappointed in its ability to serve contraband or excellent Kimchi. I know its owner had spent a month in Jail for this. One of my to do things in my next visit to Karachi is to go there for Lunch. My other is of course to go to Foot Comfort. Another best for Karachi; but maybe for another time.

  1. […] Beef Bulgogi and Bar talk. […]

  2. Interestingly, I first learned of the Korean restaurant only a few months from now while discussing places that served – you know what – in Karachi. It wasnt surprising that this question was raised while a foreigner (an intern in our company named Lucas had arrived from Singapore). I havent visited the place for my self yet. But after reading this i think i might give it a try. Thanks for sharing your memories Sharmeen. Hope i cam make some of mine there too. Cheers!

  3. Im reading this sitting at the korean… haha… brilliant

  4. sikandaranwer says:

    Had a very emotional lunch there once. Through all those emotions, just couldn’t stop eating

  5. Ahmer says:

    Sharmeen you are super brilliant, had you been a professional writer, you would be more famous than most of the guys who scribble.
    Btw I am having a craving for contraband and Korean, so I guess I will head there with beebee tonight 🙂

  6. Behzad says:

    Hey great piece.. Thanks for rekindling the desire to have this amazing food 🙂

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