KARACHI: When I initially heard about Pepe’s Piri Piri chicken opening up here in Karachi, I thought, “Oh no, not another grilled chicken restaurant.”
With the popularity of Nando’s and its dedicated patrons, one would think it quite difficult to leave a mark when it comes to flavoured, charred grilled chicken meals.
Nonetheless, as opposed to other grill houses in the city, Pepe’s is quite laid back – especially in terms of decor. With strong fast food chain feels, the outlet doesn’t really scream fine dining.
“But that’s what our aim was,” Ausaf, the franchisee, told The Express Tribune. “We didn’t just want to bring grilled chicken in Pakistan. Pepe’s idea is to mix grilled chicken with fast food options.”
With over 100 outlets already excelling in the UK, this is third one in Pakistan. Pepe’s first opened in Islamabad, then Lahore and now in North Nazimabad, Karachi.
“We plan on opening two more branches by the end of this year,” Ausaf went on. “North Nazimabad was our focus because we wanted to cater to all classes of people. It’s somewhat of a prime location when it comes to food.”
We then moved forward and had a look at the menu. Much to my surprise, Pepe offers a whole lot more than just grilled chicken in several different ways. The menu also offers a variety of fast food items like burgers, paninis, wraps, burritos and fried mozzarella sticks, with sides and a large array of grilled chicken. The flavour options ranged from Mango & Lime, Lemon & Herb and Mild, all the way to extra hot.
I let Ausaf order for us and picked a variety of options from the menu. I stressed on ordering mozzarella sticks since most eateries fail to get it right.
With mozzarella, he ordered the XL grilled burger in Mild, chicken tenders in Mango & Lime, grilled chicken in Lemon & Herb and Chicken Espanda in Very Hot, with an assortment of sides.
Now, let me get this right. I have tried mozzarella sticks from a lot of eateries but rarely have I found them to be as good as the one at Pepe’s. The seasoning was perfect and served piping hot so the cheese pull is still lurking somewhere at the back of my mind.
The expectation from the rest of the food was quite high now. Next came the burger, which I found dry but I’d still pass it as a decent option for fast food lovers. The tenders were juicy and finger-licking good!
The grilled chicken was served in a leg and a chest piece. The latter was a little dry but the leg was cooked to perfection! The Lemon & Herb flavour had just the right tartness to it.
The Espetada could have been the dish of the night, had its rice been seasoned a bit better. The blandness dulled the star dish down but the sides of french fries, onion rings and potato wedges were pretty decent. As for desserts? Well, Pepe is yet to introduce some.
The dishes ranges from Rs300 to Rs800.
Verdict: The good thing about Pepe’s is that it offers foodies a lot more than what they’d expect.
Rating: 3/5 stars.
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