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Further adventures in Pakistani food and restaurateurship


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Further adventures in Pakistani food and restaurateurship

Mike G | Mar 14, 2002 08:46 PM

I'm pretty sure Bundoo Khan has been written about here, as it's the place with the "Muslim Chinese" sign someone mentioned. I don't know from Muslim Chinese food, but in my quest to try less obvious places along Devon, I went there today. My experience was enough like the earlier one I wrote about at Nehari Palace (link below) to begin to articulate some generalizations about at least a certain type of Pakistani restaurant vs. Indian or others.

Basically, what I would say is, if Indian restaurants tend to be professional and politely chilly, the Pakistani ones seem to be less professional but considerably friendlier. I rather doubt this is as much a cultural difference as the result of the fact that many of the Indian restaurants tend to be bustling, well-established businesses, and thus professional and a bit impersonal, while the Pakistani ones are smaller, less prosperous immigrant startups, and thus much homier.

As a result, my first impression of Bundoo Khan was not terribly favorable: dingy was a state the interior might still be aspiring to, and the aural atmosphere consisted of a bad folk-rock CD-- combined with a blaring TV in the same room. (It got even better when the CD got stuck on, I'm not joking, "pus-pus-pus-pus-pus-pus"....) Coming after the TV-and-vacuum cleaner combination at Nehari Palace, I started to sense a trend.

There was a similar tone-deafness in some of the other details-- the hot light over the samosas and bread seemed to be keeping them at an even 55 degrees, for instance.

I filled a plate from the buffet but as I sat down I must admit I was pondering whether I needed to finish off/console myself with a cheeseburger or a slice of pizza... I dug into the various buffet choices and I must admit my attitude started to improve. Nothing spectacular (all quite spicy) but fresher and more appealing than I expected; the chicken did not give the sense it too often does at Indian buffets of having been swimming in its curry for several days. I also tried a samosa, and I must say that despite its (room) temperature it was one of the best I have ever had, in fact, the first I can remember in a long time that genuinely tasted homemade. (I suspect that many places get them from the same supplier, the way hot dog places all have the same pizza puffs from Kronos or whoever.)

In a few minutes they brought me tandoori chicken and an enormous fresh flat bread. Then, a minute later, they took away that bread and gave me a different, equally enormous one. A bit awkward but I soon realized that they had decided the first was too burnt (which it was, but only slightly) and I deserved a better one. They were right and I was sorry that even if I pigged out I could only finish half this excellent bread. The tandoori was also quite good, again, it seemed freshly made, even homemade as opposed to being made in batches of 5000 with big industrial cans of Kraft tandoori goo.

So maladroit as the experience seemed at first, in the end Bundoo Khan did me right. Since the best things I had were mostly the freshly-made things, I suspect you might want to skip the buffet entirely and try ordering from the menu (although that might be hard at lunch, when the buffet will basically be there just for you anyway). If you can figure out what's Muslim Chinese, good for you too, but if not you still won't be disappointed. By the food, if not the atmosphere and the decor, that is.


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