The freshly opened The Burning Giraffe, in a crowded shopping centre on the Main Boulevard, Gulberg, is the talk of the town already. And why not. It’s salubrious but calorie-counted food items make for “fit meals” — and that include the grilled steaks and salads.
The place is run by farmer-businessman and a certified chef Yasir Ali Noon together with his partners who have created a healthy menu for all those who care.
The place has a cheerful, bright look. Inside, it’s amply decorated with hanging LED bulbs, table lanterns along the limestone wall furnished with sturdy tables and chairs. The wall is aged to bring out a raw look that none of the workers could manage. This is where Noon’s wife Sahar, herself a known artist and interior decorator, took over and did up the whole wall in a matter of one night only.
You can’t help but notice the gold leafing on the opposite wall and a vibrant display of yellow with a dash of steel-grey in tapestry that doesn’t get overpowering.
“This is not my line of work but a hobby that I am pursuing,” says Yasir Noon who went on to train professionally as a chef from SCAFA, London.
Me and my friend sat down and ordered their much recommended green apple chiller made from imported Italian syrup alongside a caramel milkshake. Both marked for their well balanced refreshing flavour. My friend believed that the milkshake could have done without the crushed ice. You might want to try their smoothies, mocktails and signature cold coffee. What is available on the menu at the moment will keep changing, and Noon promises to introduce Sunday brunch and hi-tea also.
The calamari was the first dish that arrived on our table. Soon it became my favourite for its exceptional taste. What sets it apart is the finest selection of sea food sautéed in red chili sauce with balsamic vinegar reduction for a tangy taste.
“There’s no shortcut to the food,” observes Noon who says the ingredients are all “imported from abroad to give an authentic flavour to the cuisine.
“We don’t use frozen meats. Even the burger patty is made once the order is taken. The meat is actually smashed on the grill once you order the burger. Even the bread is cut at the last minute, whereas most cafés in the city are known to pre-make the sandwiches and refrigerate them which they only butter before serving to the customer.”
We got to the most interesting and talked-about dish next: Beef tataki. I realised that an experienced server can add much fun to the food, as he explains everything from the selection of meat to making the best use of the ‘secret’ sauces and seasonings.
Although, raw beef at the centre didn’t seem like a good idea but we were in for a surprise. This turned out to be a star dish, made from the undercut beef treated a day before. It is sautéed on grill but kept raw from inside before being burnt and caramelised from the top which brought out its real taste and tenderness. The thinly sliced beef is made with a ponzu sauce poured over it and garnished with julienne style spring onions, rocket leaves, garlic chips, and thai red chilli.
Up next were the two main items. For instance, Yan Special Beef Burger, a perfect juicy all-beef burger patty thrown with various fillings. Much recommended yet a hearty portion which we couldn’t finish and had it packed. The Beef Donburi Bowl was another surprise plated on a bed of garlic rice, pickled carrots, bell pepper, and tenderised beef pieces marinated to perfection. It’s a complete serving and can be eaten on its own.
The Burning Giraffe is named after a painting by renowned artist Salvador Daali. Sahar Noon says she caught sight of it while working on her thesis at the National College of Arts, Lahore. “We wanted people to think about it, and it was something that reflects on the interiors too.”
We rounded up our meals, without thinking much about the calorie count, by delving straight into the Mars Triffle filled with dark chocolate oozing lava served with vanilla soft custard. This one’s surely a killer and apart from being served beautifully the choice of chocolate was perfect.