Forty4 beckons those with a palate for pan-Oriental food

New restaurant in Clifton boasts of a Malaysian chef and soothing ambience.

Atika Rehman November 24, 2011


Forty4, named simply after its building number, became on Wednesday another addition to Karachi’s exciting restaurant scene by opening its doors to offer an eclectic variety of pan-Oriental fusion cuisine.

It is located in the popular Clifton Block 4 neighbourhood which is also home to other well-established eateries such as Xanders, Koel, Saffron and Cafe Flo. The double-storey restaurant opened its doors with a private reception in the evening throughout which smartly dressed guests were invited to sample mocktails and appetising hors d’oeuvres.

The hosts were the owners of the restaurant, Samina and Akbar Bilgrami. They ushered friends and relatives in to the tables set up in separate portions of the ground floor. “Karachi was screaming out for a new place,” said Samina. She described her restaurant as a tranquil retreat from the routine hustle and bustle of Karachi. The ambience supported her claim. The lighting was perfect - the lights and candles brightened the rooms sufficiently enough and set a soothing tone. Tightly packed red roses and oversized white chrysanthemum pompons made for attractive centre pieces on the wooden tables. There was enough seating for about 40 people on the ground floor.

Sikander Rizvi, the owner of Xanders, a new restaurant that opened earlier this month on the same road, said that the place was a fantastic addition to the dining out scene of Karachi and that he would definitely return for more.

Waiters wove between the chattering guests, working the crowd with platters of nibbles including scrumptious sesame beef and piping hot rice cakes with a drizzle of sauce. Guests also raved about the dim sum and bite-sized potatoes. Although the virgin margherita being served at the bar was a tad sweet, the chilled pina colada had just the right amount of coconut flavouring.

Samina explained that Forty4’s chef is from Malaysia, though he has worked all over the world and is a connoisseur of authentic Asian food. The regular a la carte menu boasts a wide selection of starters, from calamari with salsa to chicken money bags and a large variety of entrees.

Samina’s daughter, Sonia Chundrigar, has provided artwork and photographs for the restaurant. “The paintings are inspired by Chinese symbols that denote prosperity and good luck,” she said. The building that the restaurant is located in used to be a house and was renovated by interior designer Naheed Mashooqullah. The portion upstairs can be booked for private parties or bigger groups.

While there were murmurs of the restaurant being “too crowded” for the hundreds of guests, the cricketing legend Wasim Bari noted that it was “nicely done and has a great location.” He added that, “Anything to do with food in this city is going to be successful.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2011.


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