Thursday, 31 March 2016

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Wasabi Prawns

Wanted a quick bite but filling and healthy before a flight, not knowing when I will get next meal. I prefer taking off with full tummy. I wanted something fast yet real food! So a bunch of us checked in at Chop Chop Wok! And wise decision, it sure did it for me, bringing fond memories of eating out of roadside carts and stands in China, Singapore, Jakarta,  Penang, Manila and many other Pan Asian destinations that I have traveled to. That flavour and aroma of flame smoked stir fried food in wok when cooked on high flame. Ummmmm loved the bowl brimming with goodness. 

Nari Goreng

This tiny place Chop Chop Wok, tucked among the busy market place of Phase-5 Khadda Market-DHA is a small wonder.

I was invited at its opening last summer, but could not go since I was traveling then. Upon my return I made a few attempts at eating here and was mostly disappointed since the place is always full, yes the downside of a 20 odd people sitting capacity serving great food, it is always full. But well got lucky this time and found a table, and this one meal got me hooked to it.

So after so many meals here, it is time to come up with a blog for this go to place for me every time the craving to have asian food strikes. I got hold of the two dynamic young entrepreneurs Salman and Umair, holding degrees from Australia and UK, who own this restaurant.  I have had a wonderful afternoon with them, food talks, dreams, their future plans and great food amidst the drifting aroma from the woks of the open kitchen and leaping flames from the volcano burners. Responding to my complaints of the tiny place, they said they are building a bigger place that will be in operation in a few months time, so waiting and capacity wont be a problem any more. Good news indeed!

Chop Chop Wok is presented to Karachites as a go to spot for quality Asian Cuisine that is cheap and accessible. The overall ambience is very informal, we need not be dressed up, or wait forever, or pay a fortune to be served here, a really grab and go option for healthy meals.   

Just pick a protein from beef, chicken, prawns, eggs or tofu, select a flavor and a staple from the available white or brown rice or pasta, in 6-7 minutes you would get a steaming, delicious and beautifully plated Japanese, Thai, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Pan Asian, Oriental meal.  

Look at the mind blowing variation that has something for everyone.
How fun that is!

Magical wok atop volcano stove create a delicious bowl of Asian Meal in 5-6 minutes

You can see what is been put in your food
Black Pepper Beef with Rice

Thai Beef Salad
3 Step Wok meal
Some of the meals that really stood out for me and are my favourite includes brown rice (a rare to find staple in restaurants) with a combination of 4 proteins in Pan Asian spicy sauce.   
Salman, one of the owners told me they  use prime quality ingredients in  preparing the dishes, and just a couple of spoonfuls of Black Pepper Beef with rice explained that. The beef is totally succulent, fork tender in a thick shiny sauce. Great texture and presentation, every bite is a delight.  Could not agree more when the Executive Chef mentioned that it is one of their hot selling items. 

Don’t know how many bowls of this popular Asian rice dish Nasi Goreng I ate around the world, yet Chop Chop Wok Nasi Goreng will make it to the list of the ones I will always remember. 

Tom Yum Soup

The menu presents a good selection of appetizers, the recently added Wasabi Prawns were excellent. Mildly sweet, with the wasabi kick and tender U/20 size prawns. I ordered Tom Yum soup as well, but naah… that did not work for me, it was very very sour and broth based, I always go for the creamy version of Tom Yum, but others on the table liked it though. 

On many subsequent visits the past few weeks I tried Thai Curries that were served freshly prepared with distinct aroma of well blended thai herbs, all home made sauces that does not have glutamate, crunchy fresh vegetable and chicken tenders served with jasmine rice, I always get request for brown rice in place, which the kitchen staff serve happily and no extra charge.

This wok place is sure a keeper for me.  Good things indeed come in small packages is all I can say to sum 
It all up.

Chop Chop Wok is open  from noon to midnight on weekdays and until 1:00am on weekends. Average cost for a meal for two with fresh juice would be under Rs.1500/=. No reservation required, it is just walk in, and take away.


Blog Writer: Farah Kamal
Photography: Shahrukh Mughal

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Love Nutrilov

A bunch of Nutrilov been sitting on my desk for quiet sometime, it was sent to me for tasting. These are some neatly wrapped and packaged granola bars. Hummm packaged food I am not fond of them, so well they kept sitting there.

However one busy morning, I just grabbed a pack of it in a rush while running to teach a very early morning class at University, yes no time for breakfast, and it is three hours stint, I know I cant go without food, so lets give this baby a try. Checked its label on the way; good! no artificial ingredients or preservative,  wow for 137 calories a bar it is not bad, looks like I am gonna eat it.

Munched on it during the class break and it tasted totally awesome a beautiful blend of nutty, earthy and mildly sweet flavour. The toasted oats, chocolate bits, flaked coconut totally yum, gilt free, healthy and filled me up until 3:00pm, when I got to eat my lunch well that is definitly good mileage.

I decided to do a bit of talking with the enterpreneurs who came up with this idea and of course I wanted to buy more, so were my cousins and friends since I had been bragging about it.

Madiha and her husband with therr passion for healthy food, had hard time like many of us health and fitness freaks finding nutrient rich delicious food easily. They realized that there is a huge market gap for nutrient packed healthy organic food in Pakistan. Most of us either create and cook our own healthy meals and snacks or just eat the available junk. Yes making great granola bar is a speciality with Madiha and with this perfect recipe she tarted baking them to sell, her husband very fondly named it ‘Nutrilov’ and did fabulous branding. This is mainly an online brand

I asked Madiha ‘why Nutrilove when the imported granola bars are on supermarket shelves”? I could not agree with her response, ‘most of these imported brands are laden with sugar and additives’.

 Nutrilov is a wonderful blend of rolled oats, real fruits, nuts, honey and brown sugar. Freshly baked and have good keeping quality, the pack says it is good for 20 days in refrigerator, well mine been sitting on office desk for a month and taste perfectly fresh. I tuck a pack of it in my purse all the time now, specially if I am somewhere where I don’t know when I get my next meal, like traveling, photo expeditions or on fields. Keeps me filled, gives me energy and is nutritious. Love on the go it is.

The brand got an overwhelming response and is a straight hit with whoever tried them. Each bar is priced at Rs. 100, and can be ordered online via Facebook page, also are delivered all over Pakistan. Nutrilov is also stocked at IBA campuses in Karachi, T2F, and are a regular vendor at the Karachi Farmer’s Market.

 Nutrilov is my new love!