June issue 2009

By | Food | Life Style | Published 15 years ago

In this day and age of cutting costs and generally skimping on everything, such that even restaurants are shrinking in size, Rangoli comes as a breath of fresh air. A sprawling eatery spread over two dining areas and two serving areas, not to mention one waiting area, the restaurant offers a continental buffet at lunch, and a Pakistani buffet at dinner.

Located on the first floor of the Arena — there are elevators for those who don’t wish to climb stairs — the eatery is a festive-looking place, with the Rangoli theme evident in the motifs on the floors, the walls and the tables. In fact, those are the only evidences of any theme, so one wonders why the eatery is advertised as a ‘theme restaurant’ especially considering that the fare on offer is pretty varied.

A spacious waiting room — which, believe it or not, is converted into a dining area at night, when the massive eatery is packed — leads to a large buffet area on its right, followed by an equally spacious sitting area. On its left is a little courtyard with niches where different dishes are cooked on the spot at night.

The buffet menu at lunch is not as extensive but is quite eclectic, comprising, aside from the soup and salad bar, items popular with youngsters such as mini-burgers, mini-pizzas and nuggets; continental items such as fried fish, buffalo wings, baked spinach, pepper steak, tomato pasta, Mexican chicken and the chef’s special prawns; some Pakistani fare, like daal; and a lot more. While not everything is delicious, most of the items are appetising, and the taste is enhanced by the fact that the food is served hot. The baked spinach is particularly worth trying, as are the pasta and the steaks.

The wings, however, are quite tasteless and not recommended.

The dessert variety, although limited at lunch, is quite tempting and includes both western and desi treats, such as strawberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse, caramel custard and shahi tukray, all of which are delectable.

Dinner is a different ballgame altogether: besides the items served at lunch, it offers a whole lot more in the way of local options and live counters. From prawn tempura and freshly fried fish, kebabsand botis to nihari, haleem, paya, biryani, palak paneer and Chinese fried rice, there is a mind-boggling variety to choose from. The courtyard has live counters serving sajji, pasta, chapli kebab, chicken handi and an Afghani rice dish. The items offered at dinner are definitely more value for money: at Rs 690 plus tax, you can’t go wrong with the fare on offer — provided of course, you can do justice to it.

The fried fish and prawns and the barbequed items are the most popular, and there is invariably a waiting line for them; it would help if some more counters were added to avoid the rush. Incidentally, the freshly cooked items are the only food served piping hot; the rest of the dinner menu is generally lukewarm. From all the dishes we tried at night, we found the chapli kebab, the sajji and the bihari qeema to be absolutely scrumptious.

The dessert variety at night is even better and includes all that is available at lunch and more. Currently, Rangoli is even offering a free coupon to play at the Arena on any weekday within the month.

The one negative aspect that the restaurant does need to look into is the presence of an uncomfortably large number of mosquitos in the dining rooms. That aside, Rangoli is highly recommended for those with a big appetite and a penchant for variety.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also works at Hum television.

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