The Upper Crust: A taste of Paris in Karachi

Published: December 11, 2011

The frozen yoghurt at The Upper Crust is delicious. PHOTO: FARAH KAMAL

I recently spent a great Sunday afternoon shooting sumptuous food, and tasting it at The Upper Crust. Located in the prestigious area of  Zamzama, this patisserie is a true treat for Karachiites and food lovers.

Owner Hamid Ali Khan had invited me over to conduct a photoshoot at the bakery, and was generous enough to present us with a range of goodies to taste as we worked. Loaded with our heavy cameras, my partner and I clicked away at the mouth-watering food on offer.

The Upper Crust has a tastefully decorated seating area with spectacular bakery shelves heaped with freshly baked goodies that include cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and cinnamon rolls. I personally recommend the strawberry gelato; it is truly the creamiest, most delicious gelato I have ever had.

Moreover, the café serves a truly unique and world-class selection of sandwiches and burgers; it was quite an experience tasting them. Their distinct flavour can be credited to the fresh produce that comes from Hamids’ personal farm in Malir, and his home garden in which he grows herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. The selection of bread is also excellent – since Hamid is also a flour mill owner, he can do wonders in creating the treats the bakery offers.

Then, there were the different scents of heavenly goodies that whetted my appetite; there was the smell of vanilla, not just the essence, but actual vanilla pods shipped directly from Madagascar; the mouth-watering scent of freshly-baked plain, wholewheat, and multi-grain loaves of bread, baguettes, buns, and croissants; the aroma of freshly brewed coffee imported from Cicely – all this added to the lovely ambiance of the place. If I were to dine there, I am sure I would be tempted to try a bite of everything. Normally, I would be concerned that this would put a heavy dent in my wallet, but The Upper Crust is very affordable.

Hamid is a highly qualified person with a Masters degree in Food Technology from the University of London. Moreover, he has a degree in Chocolate Studies from the Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Singapore . The unique environment of the café definitely reflects that he was trained by Alain Ducasse – a six star chef of Paris at Le’ Ecole de Causin.

I definitely enjoyed the food he had to offer; his passion shone through in the carefully prepared and tasteful cuisine. The Upper Crust has great potential and I highly recommend it to people looking for something unique. It is a true Paris-style patisserie.

This post originally appeared here

Correction: An earlier version of this blog carried the incorrect spelling of Callebaut Chocolate Academy.

Farah S Kamal

Farah S Kamal

An education and development consultant, who is currently leading the iEARN programs in Pakistan. Photography is her hobby and passion and she tweets @fskamal (twitter.com/fskamal)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    What little I tried definitely deserved to be described as stuff that melts-in-the mouth.
    But your calling it ‘very affordable’ is a stretch.Recommend

  • Foodoholic

    Well, you should try Tuttyfrutty frozen yoghurt too. The guy behind the launch is known for his shady business ethics but he has done a good job in bringing it to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rehan

    Not affordable. But decent food.
    Regards,
    RehanRecommend

  • Yousuf

    Lived for 4 years in Singapore but never heard of Calibos University in Singapore. Mr Hamid could very well be a savvy entrepreneur and a master baker but was it necessary to mention this degree?Recommend

  • Shahrukh

    hey that’s great!! it was wonderful experience at Upper Crust.. and believe me Mr Hamid has done wonders with food taste! Bravo!
    and Farah you have done great job with Photographs (mouth watering) and review. :)Recommend

  • Ali

    hahah what! degree in chocolate studies? hahaha i googled Calibos University and found nothing lool!Recommend

  • hamid

    chocolate uni… callebaut. we use the best ingredients, these come at a price. Accordingly. we feel its great value for money. considering the ingredients we utilize.Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    @Yousuf: there was spelling error in the name of the academy, it is Callebaut Chocolate Academy these are in many countries of the world, including Singapore, check out:
    Barry Callebaut Asia Pacific (Singapore) Pte Ltd
    http://www.barry-callebaut.comRecommend

  • Yousuf

    @Farah Kamal: Thanks, that makes much more sense. Never intended to belittle the achievements of Mr. Hamid but we are stung by the graduates of Trinity College one-too-many times, so just being wary.

    By the way, is The Upper Crust in any way affiliated to the “Upper Crust” chain here in the UK?Recommend

  • Good subbie

    4th paragraph

    I’m pretty sure writer means “quite an experience” and not “quiet an experience”

    Bad subbieRecommend

  • nosheentariq

    when this is coming to Islamabad.Recommend

  • zara khan

    food was good but service – not-so-much!

    i found it quite affordable and was glad that my big was not as high as other places that don’t merit such high cost for such little value like say, espresso maybe?!

    ambiance wasn’t amazing in terms of fit out. too small and not neat-looking.

    i dont think fro yo machines should be placed at the front as one walks in. layout plan could be better aesthetically and ergonomically. fro yo was disappointing.

    fro yo, gelato, cupcakes, bread, pizza pieces – where is the core competency in that? jack of all trades, master of none. maybe the concept was like a dine-in/take out bakery, but it’s certainly not a cafe.

    no drinks on the menu as they were gone for ‘printing’ – amateur opening.

    needs work, has potential. food was nice enough. don’t think i’ll go back but may bring home some banana bread to save me baking it myself – bargain at rs.250 for a good sized loaf!Recommend

  • L.Anonyme

    “Sicily”, Cicely isn’t a place, it’s a plant. Does anyone edit at ET at all?
    But, good review. Gonna check the place out because of it.Recommend

  • sarah

    I’ve been to The Upper Crust a few times myself, but found the service somewhat disappointing everytime. My first experience at visiting the place, I was not offered any menu even though I decided to dine-in with my family. I literally had to get up a couple of times to place the order and decided to take the frozen yogurt to-go instead. At another instance when I walked in and placed my order to-go, while the waiter was serving me, some lady (who was probably a friend of the owner or a regular customer), placed the order, went right up to the waiter, took her frozen yogurt, paid and left while I was still in the middle of getting my order. The owner was too busy chatting away so I’ve decided to post this here. Kindly note this suggestion.Recommend

  • hamid

    @zara khan:
    froyo is one of our most popular items. however, u seemed to have been disturbed by the ergonomics. of the establishment upon entry. the critique seems to be tainted accordingly. i would suggest you give the baked goods a sampling.
    the service i concur has gaps, which are in the process of being filled. drinks menu arriving today…..
    As for the amateur opening, the whole project is passion driven, for instance we utilize certain grinds of flour to achieve crusty baguettes, our croissants are sheeted with a beautiful butteryness shining through. resulting in a flakyness.
    the response has been overwhelming, we plan on simply improving on every platform.Recommend

  • Vasudha

    Amazing pics as always and quite a beautiful writeup too, Farah!Recommend

  • hamid

    @sarah:
    this is the chatty owner.
    i try and deal with every customer individually. Unfortunately, i wasn’t able to get to you, otherwise this would have been a positive situation. the response has been overwhelming. we are continuously working on the service aspect.
    however, we regret the you were inconvenience caused to you, service aspect is being beefed up. Recommend

  • Just saying

    Where on Earth is ‘Cicely’? LolRecommend

  • Shahrukh

    @Just saying: impressed with your language and geography skills, it was a mere ‘typo’ overlooked, everyone know it is ‘Sicily”.

    On a different note if it was ‘Amrika’ or “Amarika”, “Amreeka” , rarely anyone would google search or refer to world map they would rather correct the spelling. Recommend

  • OP

    Six stars for Alain Ducasse? there is no such thing as six stars for chef, he is 3 star michelin, given the way you say it, I highly doubt he was trained by Alain DucasseRecommend

  • Farah Kamal

    @OP:you really must examine the facts prior to commenting. Ducasse as hamid related it, held 9 stars that he could remember off the cuff. however, there was some contention with his NY establishment, hence the 6 star statement. ecole de cuisine was one the schools where hamid learn’t his art.Recommend

  • SJS

    When was coffee produced in Sicily? True that Italy has a coffee tradition but owners forgot that prized coffee comes from South America. Perhaps ‘Cicely’ sounds posh!! heheheRecommend

  • ht

    TUC is a NEW and unique venture, which needs our encouragement and positive reinforcements, and NOT useless, negative commentary which is more for the purpose of idle humour than productivity…..just a thought….Recommend

  • ht

    @Foodoholic:
    TUC is a NEW and unique venture, which needs our encouragement and positive reinforcement instead of useless, negative commentary, which is more for the purpose of idle humour and character assassination…..dont u think??Recommend

  • hamid

    @SJS:
    Prized coffee not only comes from south america but sumatra, jamica, africa. However, it is countries such as italy and france, that are able to extract the full richess of the bean through their roasting process. Hence production is really carried out in these countries. ,NB, took it for granted, the learned readers, would duly know origin of the beans wasn’t italy.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Dangerous … quite dangerous … it is yet another small thing which is widening the gap between have and have nots … enjoy the ice creams but remember the less blessed too otherwise “qudrat” will spin the wheel to keep the equilibrium … thats my 0.02$

    and lemme tell these mummy daddy type burger class gelato eaters … nothnig beats the “Hafiz ka Falooda” in Sargodha main bazaar with flies hovering all around it after a heavy dose of “Atomic kebabs” ….. :)Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    @Baba Ji: interesting analysis, so, you think eating “Hafiz Falooda” and “Atomic Kebabs” (i love the name), will not disturb the natures’ balance and not spin the wheel. and how does this describe the have and have not terminologies. How do you know the gellatos eaters are not eating faloodas?

    OK now this cute term ‘mummy daddy type”, I asked a few people for its interpretation, and it turn out to be the term that describe the young population protected by their parents, so does not the non mommy daddy type are taken care and protected by their parents. What is wrong in this?

    You need to go in further details to elaborate your take on this!!!Recommend

  • usman

    what is the name of the flour that the owner runs?Recommend

  • A Y

    Ah…! It’s always good to see the society balance in its socio-economic strata. With people going to Parisian styled cafes in KHI vs people eating off the streets in the same place. Still… love PAKISTAN. same old same old…Recommend

  • umair

    @hamid.. I will visit the place with my fiance in a week or so.. its a nice effort replying all the comments/complaints posted here.. best of luck with your venture!Recommend

  • hamid

    @umai
    ThanksRecommend

  • Saman

    where is this located in karachi? sorry if mentioned before. did nt read all comments…Recommend

  • hamid

    @Saman:
    Lane no 3 zamzama, bank al habib is at the begining of the lane.Recommend

  • Binte

    TUC is great! Loyal fan! Recommend

  • Binte

    Tried the Pomegranade-raspberry froyo, Turkey Burger, Salmon & Cream Cheese, Gooey Brownie, CinnamonRoll muffin, and the special of the day, Fusilli Arrabbiata. Turkey Burger was one big fat beautiful burger pattie, tender, tasty and super juicy (have had the prawn burger previously which was amazing so can safely say TUC really knows how to do burgers). Fusilli Arrabbiata (fusilli made from scratch at TUC), had a beautiful sauce with tomatoes, olives, and fresh fresh basil. Highly recommended! Cinnamonroll muffin & brownie also highly recommended! Recommend

  • zaib

    I don’t have a contact number any contact number ?Recommend