On my way back from university with my mother we made a coincidental stop at a Chinese restaurant that has just joined the many eating places Lahore boasts of. My mother is a loyal customer of the same Chinese restaurant for years, in fact decades. Making her accompany me to the nearest possible restaurant forced by hunger pangs was a Herculean task. Restaurant named ‘Yum’ and that too a Chinese restaurant, left my mother bewildered no less than me. ‘Kong’ seems like the official surname of the Chinese eating places punctuating different boulevards in Lahore. Think of any and you will be forced to agree! But once you have eaten at this cozy eatery right opposite the Ather Shahzad Studio, just around the corner to Generation, you will realize it breaks free of many stereotypes.
Elegantly dressed in a long skirt a pleasant woman welcomed us at the reception, charmingly leading us to a table just right for a mother-daughter lunch to enjoy a warm winters afternoon. Looking out on a lush green lawn the dinning hall was not crowded with furniture but all the tables were occupied. Comfort while eating is an influential factor in how fine your dining experience turns out to be. The chairs were just what I would have wanted after a long day at university and after the tedious dodging of Friday rush.
Eye pleasing, quite simply is how the place came across to me. The ‘Chinese’ aspect was not overdone; the red lanterns that are considered essential to an annoying extent were missing. There were delicate glass vases magnificently displaced on the few shelves scattered here and there. Dull indoor lighting was compensated with the great sunlight the hall had.
In most of our experiences the man taking the orders and the man serving, both popularly referred to as waiters, come across as the same. Here the difference is marked. Smartly dressed in a Chinese coat the man taking the order was helpful with his feedback in quickening our order choice. The menu had many unfamiliar names I would have a hard time even pronouncing; help appreciated!
The wait seemed like ages as it always does when it is food you are waiting for. Nevertheless the ambience and the amazement I was enjoying at all the little detail that they had put in the table setting was priceless. For dinners at my house laying out the table is usually my (sole) responsibility, and I like taking my time enjoying the creativity and imagination I can possibly put in it. There was a lot on this table to enjoy for someone like me especially. The soup spoons were snuggly set in tiny holders shaped as clover leaves. The sauces were set out on a handy leaf-shaped tray that made passing them along very easy.
To snap me out of my eagle eye on the table the very hot Yum special soup is what I will be going back to the restaurant again very soon and not just once these winters. Crisp fish crackers sizzling in my soup that fulfilled my desire for spice, sea food and mushrooms all at once, heavenly! And filling too but I was greedy for more after the mood had been set so deliciously. Egg fried rice completes the sweet and sour chicken any where any day, and without chicken chow mein the Chinese experience can never be absolute, says the expert! In the main course the Yum special spicy beef managed to keep my undivided attention. It stood out as THE ultimate pick of the day. While the rest of the dishes were nothing to write about the special spicy beef rocked. It was not like anything I have had the pleasure of satisfying my undying appetite with. Tasting more sweet and sour than the sweet and sour itself the spicy beef changed my perception about beef itself. I rarely if ever order beef as a food choice but I am glad I listened to the attendee. Imagine this: crisp as any cracker, crunchy as any bread stick, nutty as any walnut pastry, sweet as honey, spicy as chilies: all in one beef nugget. Sounds far from possible eh? Then schedule to visit this relatively new restaurant offering that Lahore has been presented with.
The good parking is unexpected to find outside most eating places but this one is different with comfortable parking. The ambience, the décor, the arrangement, the table setting, the truly served-with-a-smile customer service it was a pleasant afternoon experience my mother nor do I regret in any way. In fact another like it will be following soon. However chicken chow mein will not be choice of order this time, for which I will be sticking my loyalty with my mother’s decades old choice.