Gon Pacci: An exquisitely 'Feng Shui' experience
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese lifestyle referring to a peaceful, serene and calm environment. This is exactly what felt as I entered Gon Pacci, the new eatery at Shahbaz Commercial DHA, Karachi.
Gon Pacci only just opened and the staff is already busy. With a seating capacity of around 100 people spread over two complete floors and an exciting menu, it's no wonder that they are already booked for parties and events, not to mention the busy lunch and dinner hours.
I was very intrigued by its interior and the finger food served at its launch party. I simply could not resist going back for a detailed lunch and tete-a-tete with the owners and the chef the following Sunday. The menu presents a great selection of meat, seafood, poultry, pasta and vegetable dishes, all cooked using low salt and minimum spices — indeed reflect Feng Shui.
I talked to the owners and chef and hey explained that the cuisine at Gon Pacci is a fusion of several cooking traditions including French, Italian, Japanese and Thai, to name a few. So we analysed this very creative menu and it's large variety of appetizers, entrées, drinks and desserts.
My lunch kicked off with a very refreshing and spicy tamarind cooler. I've tried this before at other restaurants, but this one stood out, being thicker, with just the right level of tanginess. It had roasted cumin (zeera) sprinkled on it that gave it a hearty crunch and toasty flavour. As an appetizer, I dared to try their sushi salad. I must confess, I am not particularly fond of sushi, but the smoky taste of the red snapper, in conjunction with the sticky rice, mingled with wasabi sauce and the crunchy rocket and iceberg salad won me over.
We eagerly awaited the main course and to our surprise, we were served a rare-to-find braised lamb shank. The mouth-watering piece of meat is cooked in its own juices that not only sealed the flavours, but like perfect braised meat, was fork-tender and had a unique taste. It was very satisfying with the side of mashed potatoes.
The next hit arrived with the chicken legs. These were seasoned with herbs and perfectly slow cooked and submerged in their own fat creating a palatable confit, served with vegetables. Unlike the signature salty taste of this dish, the one served at Gon Pacci had just about the right level of salt and along with the veggies, created a delightful dish. I completely wiped my plate clean.
The seafood entrée that we ordered was an interesting and very beautifully plated red snapper fillet, wrapped in potato slices, pan-seared and topped off with leek fondue sauce. The subtly sweet and delicate taste of leek harmonised very well with red snapper, providing a real treat for the taste buds. This is a great side dish and a good choice for people looking for small meals.
I can easily be labelled as a burger addict and to satisfy my global hunt for that perfect burger, I decided to order one at Gon Pacci as well. The chicken and tofu patty really confused me. For a pure meat lover, this is not the fix I would want. Why mix the two for the sake of creativity, when the result does not create anything very significant in taste? To the executive chef, I recommended that they should try out a burger only with tofu, to please vegetarians. He was a pleasant person, and very accepting of any suggestions. It is evident that customer satisfaction is the top priority for the team.
Shahnawaz and Taimur - the two young owners of Gon Pacci with a love for food - ventured into opening this place bearing the growing culinary market in Karachi in mind. Without much of a history in the restaurant industry, this can be a great risk. Nevertheless, they have done a fabulous job of hiring a capable kitchen crew with an equally competent and experienced captain (the executive chef) who has experience of working in some of the top restaurants in the area.
Having stayed past lunchtime, I was fortunate enough to get a hold of Jalal, the amiable executive chef, as he entered, balancing bags of groceries for an evening party. He proudly mentioned how particular he is about picking the ingredients himself, ensuring that the produce from the market is always fresh and of prime quality. With this great team at work, the restaurant is bound to leave a mark on customers and have a bright future.
Gon Pacci is open from 12:00pm to 12:00am for lunch and dinner and in a few weeks time they will be launching breakfast, starting at 8:00am. The prices are reasonable, keeping in mind the prime quality of dishes served. For a three-course meal the cost per-person would be approximately Rs1,200 and around Rs1,600 for five-course meal.
Gon Pacci lives up to its name by providing a flavourful dining experience in an environment that is peaceful and calming to the senses.
PHOTOS: FARAH KAMAL AND SHAHRUKH MUGHAL
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