Café Zouk Lahore: The Classic Cool Kid
More and more restaurants are popping up all over the city. Lahore is beginning to fill to the brim with corporate joints and local delis that may be able to sell good quality food, but the food just doesn’t have that tailored touch. It’s very hard to find an eatery that has been able to form a substantial fan base, not every restaurateur has been able to do what Ahmad Shahzad Khokhar of Café Zouk has.
Café Zouk, now a dinosaur compared to the other up and coming restaurants has functioned in the heart of Lahore for over 20 years. Through their expansive 200 dishes, multi-cuisine menu Café Zouk has maintained its iconic status, cementing itself as one of the greats in Lahore.
As a child, I recall my parents dragging me to Zouk for every alternate family dinner. I wasn’t very keen on it back then for multiple reasons. The layout seems stuffy, I hated sliding into the tight booths, I would feel overwhelmed by the menu options, and the massive portion sizes were a task and a half for little me to polish off. While Zouk has remained the same, I have evolved. All of these previous vices rub the right way now.
I visited Café Zouk last Friday after the jummah prayer. My parents wanted to visit their old stomping grounds and as we entered the familiar silver door nostalgia hit me like a tonne of bricks. The aesthetic, aroma, and vibe were exactly how it had always been. The same tiny booths, the same dim lighting, and jam-packed as always. Chill jazz music played in the back and it was definitely a scene.
Everyone has a favorite, or two, on the Café Zouk menu, so I knew exactly what I wanted: Sticky Buffalo Wings, Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, Spicy Beef Noodles, a Blue Margherita, and English Bread Pudding for dessert. After a wait of twenty minutes, as expected, the food was served.
Sticky Buffalo Wings
The sticky buffalo wings were, well, sticky. The portion size was considerably large and the glistening wings were mouth-watering. They were exactly what you’d expect to have if you ordered buffalo wings: slathered with bbq sauce and soft enough to strip clean off the bone. Food orgasms are a thing, right?
Philly Steak Sandwich
The Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich was, for a lack of better words, pretty lit. The meat was cooked perfectly, tender and succulent with just the right amount of sauce. There was plenty of cheese involved and the meat to bun ratio was spot on. There’s a reason this has been my go-to order for years and continues to be.
Spicy Beef Noodles
The Spicy Beef Noodles at Café Zouk are absolutely legendary. Thick noodles, drenched in a sweet soy marinade, loaded with mushrooms, garlic, scallions, and beef, this main is served with two slices of garlic bread. I have yet to come across a single soul that has been able to finish the entire serving in one go. But don’t worry, these taste even better straight out of the fridge at night.
I always opt for either the Blue Margarita or the Piña Colada with my meal; they’re both equally refreshing. On this particularly hot summer afternoon, I was really feeling the Margarita and it evened out my meat sweats.
English Bread Pudding
When it comes down to dessert one item on Zouk’s menu shines: The English Bread Pudding. It’s one of those shareable desserts that the whole table wants in on, and why not? It’s good to share this decadent caramel slathered delight. To say that I ended the meal on a high note would technically be a lie, considering that I had to be carried out. But that is not a complaint.
A Classic for a Reason
It is really impressive that Café Zouk has been able to maintain quality and consistency all these years, their customer loyalty exceeds that of most relationships in Lahore. With such an expansive menu there’s so much that could go wrong yet everything is so right. One thing I can say for sure is that Café Zouk is here to stay, new restaurants need not compete.