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Lal-Qila-- a Pakistani cabbie place in fancy clothes!

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Lal-Qila-- a Pakistani cabbie place in fancy clothes!

Mike G | May 22, 2002 03:47 PM

I had tried Sultan's Palace, the imposing domed restaurant just before Devon on Western (6345 N. Western), a couple of times before I started making a point of remembering that it wasn't very good.

Today as I headed up that way to put thoughts of Wall Street Deli out of my mind, I saw that it suddenly bore a new sign: Lal-Qila Curry & Kebab. (Whoops. Or was it Qal-Lila? Suddenly I'm not sure.)

I made a hasty pullover into a meter with money still left on it and went in for $6.95 lunch buffet. As I went in I asked the waiter a fateful question: "So, I see it has a new name, has the menu changed?"

Yes, new items, new owners, I was informed. (He also told me what the name means-- Red Fort, he said. "From a palace to a fort.") And because I had evidenced interest (and was the only customer at that moment), within a few moments I had the owner himself standing at my table, proudly telling me about buying the restaurant, and how Indians put the same curry on everything and don't know how to make real Lamb biryani (from which I deduced that he was Pakistani, a fact confirmed a moment later), and so on. When I asked him what restaurants he had owned or worked for before, he said "Many, many... where the Pakistani cabbies go. I am quite famous among the Pakistani cabbies." Aha! When I asked for a specific location, he said Clark and Hubbard (didn't ring a bell with me-- anyone know it?) He also said he is adding his kind of items bit by bit, and that he doesn't do a buffet at night because he wants things to be fresh at a nice dinner, and he can offer more and more authentic things that way, including kabobs. So I was impressed with his ambition (as well as the fact that Pakistani restaurateurs always seem approachable than Indian ones).

When I went to the buffet at last, I did indeed see signs of Zim's dictum that the early stages of a buffet will have things you've never seen before (and may not see for long). So how was it? Well, there were good things and indifferent things, and by the fact that tandoori chicken was among the latter, I suspect the more authentic items are the good ones. Better than tandoori chicken was Lahori chicken, while the tomatoey lamb curry and the coconut milk-flavored yellow curry on vegetable fritters (not a diet dish) were pretty tasty too.

So if you've avoided Sultan's Palace, it's gone. Give this a try, especially as more items are added over the next few weeks.

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