Friday, 13 January 2012

Ahlan to Abaan- The Lebanese restaurant in town

“SWOT-An-Arabian-Night’ A  robust evening  enjoying  the  unique  taste  of 
Middle Eastern cuisine

Thinking back to early nineties, when, suddenly the middle eastern food started appearing in the Pakistani food scene. Result of influx of overseas Pakistanis back to their home country after the gulf war. Two decades later there are no shortage of worthy Middle Eastern restaurants spread throughout Pakistan. Karachiites with their love of eating out adapted their taste buds to the middle eastern cuisine and made wonders with some fusion to suit the local preferences and available ingredients.

Abaan is one such evolution on the fine dining map of Karachi. Located at Khayabe Jami, Aban offers surprisingly great tasting Lebanese dishes. Due to my several trips to Lebanon and close ties with friends and colleagues in Beirut, Lebanese food is close to my heart. I have had opportunity to eat at Abaan several times over the past 7 months that it has been operating. “SWOT-An-Arabian-Night’ was a robust evening where SWOT members dined at Abaan. SWOT is a group of Karachi based foodies who review and share their eating out experiences on facebook. Before our dinner, I and Shahrukh had a solid two hours with our cameras clicking away the creations in the very modern, well laid out and neat kitchen of Abaan.

Abaan is located in a beautiful building with an impressive reception area, the main dining hall is located on the 2nd Floor. It is quiet spacious, not exactly laid out in Middle Eastern décor, but done beautifully, with comfortable seating, and dimly lit. The Arabic music and music videos on TV adds to the setting. Overall ambience is definitely relaxing and helps unwind with friends and family.

Kicking off the evening with appetizers, the group ordered Falafel; which turned out a great hit with its light texture and right spices. The Assorted Mezze  Platter and Grilled Halloumi cheese salad tasted good too; but some of us suggested that they can be improved with adjusting some seasonings and adding more olive oil. The Lentil Soup is served with crisp and thin pitta was a perfect  preparation .

There were  several main courses ordered; Lamb Shank, Lamb chops, were outstanding. The meat on the Lamb Shank was tender, juicy carefully cooked, spiced with a sauce poured over. The sides include vibrantly colored steamed vegetable and couscous. The couscous could do with some more olive oil and soaking in water longer.

The grilled entrees that were tried included Sheesh Tauk, and Lamb Chops; which were well grilled, tender, and tasted well. The Sheesh Taukh can do with little less spice. Dajjaj Moussaka, was pan seared chicken marinated a tasty sauce, served with brown rice containing herbs, nuts, and raisins. I loved that rice, though the chicken was somewhat overcooked and would be much better with adjustments in spice and cooking temperature.

The Shawarma that came on the tables were far from authentic or even close to what Shawarma can be, maybe omitting onions and capsicum would improve the taste or might be a complete different recipe. A couple of us also ordered mint drink that was freshly prepared with lemon juice and crushed mint, and did not have taste of any artificial syrup or ingredients!
I would also like to point out to the fact that the meat dishes served by authentic Lebanese eateries on streets of Beirut would be completely bland and dry to Pakistani tastebuds!!!! At Abaan, the chef have done a great job of creating these dishes palatable to our taste, yet carrying the distinct Lebanese flavors. 

  The dessert were the highlight of the dinner – everyone loved the Om' Ali, which was outrightly Yummy!!! Just that the chef needs to ensure they arrive steaming hot on the tables. The baklava, though over sweet, was crunchy, sticky and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. The little Arabic Biscuits were all delicious and people wiped them off to the last crumb. 

The Executive Chef of Abaan is an experienced professional with extensive experience of working in Middle East. As we were shooting in the kitchen, it was a sheer pleasure observing him and his crew; food stylists, cooks and assistants working harmoniously as a great team creating these mouth watering dishes for us. Our reviews, suggestions alongwith the appreciation was very well received by owner Adil Iqbal. Adil is a young, dynamic business graduate from London, who was inspired by his love of Middle Eastern cuisine specifically Lebanese food while in London. 
I was impressed by his extraordinary openness to involving his customers in improving the food, and listening to their advice intently. Lebanese food tastes fairly different and it is a challenge to introduce the subtle and delicate flavors of Lebanese cuisine in Pakistan. Adil is brave enough to take up this challenge, and is fairly successful so far.
Many of us would definitely go back to Abaan and anyone searching for a unique Middle Eastern  taste much venture out to Abaan. 

Check out:

SWOT Guide:

Abaan Restaurant:

Fotoshoot of Abaan by Farah Kamal and Shahrukh Mughal:

Note: Restaurant owners/chef/advertisers, if you want your restaurant/food/new menu reviewed/blogged and photographed please contact me at



  1. This is most stunning blog i have ever seen!! Just outstanding writeup and i'm truly amazed about the pics as well.. Great work!!

  2. These pictures really make the food tempting. Its definitely on my checklist now :) But a suggestion to the restaurant. Pakistanis don't really get a lot of exposure to Middle Eastern food or sweets. So, adding more Arabian deserts to the menu will be a good idea. :)

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