Is it asli? : Eating ‘Karachi’s mashoor Peshawari Ice-cream’…in Peshawar

Published: September 28, 2011

Since they all claim to be the real thing it is impossible to determine which Bombay Chaat House in Bohri Bazaar is real. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL / EXPRESS

Rather go to Lahore than trek to Nazimabad for Hardee’s? Rather wait for the rush of people to subside than wait for 50 minutes in the line outside?

Not a problem — the best feeling of watching the golden star installed on the top of restaurant is that somewhere, somehow, a knock off golden star is being constructed.

And there’s nothing the real Hardee’s can do about it.

Welcome to the barely there-copyright land. “Hamari sirf eik branch hai” is about the best you can say to stop it.

Actually, it’s about the only thing that people end up saying.

It’s printed on every Nimco bag you’ll ever buy- at all four branches. The ‘real’ Nimco is an image contested by the cantankerous old man at the Bohri bazaar branch, who (so it goes) has a fued with the claustrophobic branch wedged between the toy stores at the Dellawalla, and the easy going, spacious, one around Badr Commercial. All of them will promptly refuse to sell you namak paray if you challenge their eligibility.

Speaking of Bohri Bazaar, what about the Bombay Chaat houses lined there? All three will furiously wave at you the minute your chapal hits the inner Bohri Bazaar gully:

“Baaji,  yahaan wahaan mat dekhen – YAHAAN.”

The best interpretation of the “sirf eik branch” motto? On the wall of Bombay Chaat house two, right next to Bombay Chaat house three there’s a sign painted that says “Asli Bombay Chaat House. Baraber walay say dhoka mat khayay”. Way to stick it to ‘em, boys.

The list could go on. It’s come to a point where even if there’s no feud, people will insist on making one up.

Agha juice Khadda Market may say Nazimabad no one on top, but the real Nazimabad number one scoffs at that association (say sources).

The various branches of Hanifia at Nursery Market, New town and Khadda Market can’t possibly be related to each other (never mind that they’ve since opened branches as far away as Houston, Texas).

Who knows whose hunter beef is the real deal? Mr Old Books can be found at two separate locations across the city, each believing the other’s books to be younger.

Pizza Next, that short lived pizza eatery off  Teen Talwar – didn’t someone swear that disgruntled Pizza Hut employees set it up, for how else could the menu have been a near word to word copy?

And what about that dodgy Pizza Hut off at Hyderi?  Locals can’t possibly understand whether it’s real or not, because who ever heard of a Pizza Hut without it’s red hut?

The very act of asking whether some things are ‘real’ or not should say a lot of the situation.

It seems branching out, or affiliating with another branch- the very acts of the same branch name, design, and streamlined service- is something foreign, even alien, something that only, say, Nandos or McDonalds would aspire to.

The only local example of a chain diversifying is Usmania, boasting more than 14 branches across Pakistan, serving everything under the sun from Karachi till Gilgit.

But for the rest, its choose a sign, pick a place, and chal meray bhai.

Boo-ing the competitor – whether printing obnoxious notes on your thelis, or simply glaring from across the street- is just a part of the parcel.

Which is why, in Peshawar, you can have a bill board proclaiming “Karachi ki mashoor Peshawari Ice-cream- ab yahan”.

Poor old Peshawari Ice-cream – now fighting for its exclusivity against its own home town.

And, which is also why, on the second day of Hardees opening in Karachi, one customer reached the counter only to ask, loudly and boldly:

“Yahan zinger nahin milta?”

Hey, if the khoka selling burgers down any road calls them zingers, why not Hardee’s?  The Hardee’s staff member sighed and said:

“Nahin, sir, woh do dukanay pehlay milta hai, KFC par”

The real KFC, mind you.

Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

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

  • Fahad Raza

    I wonder if Hardee’s opened up near Zamzama..would that be much a fuss…???..
    Obsessed burgers at tribune blogs. Recommend

  • Abdul Rahman

    The effects of globalization, as far as these international food chains go. It’s pretty sad how people die to eat at this international food chains and always want to be the first ones to eat at these fast food chains and then brag about it. When was the last time we saw Americans line up for a Desi food chain when it opened up in their neck of the woods. Recommend

  • Ali Agha

    Dear Marium, The asli Agha Juice Nazimabad has a total of 4 branches in Karachi. They are situated at; Agha Juice Khadda Market, Agha Juice Bahadurabad (opp old Amber Auditorium) and Agha Juice Rashid Minhas Road. All the branches have orange backlit signboards with “AGHA JUICE” written on it. All the fake shops are “Agha Raza”, “Agha Ahmed” etc etc.Recommend

  • baqar

    its good to be different but this is pointless….at the end of the day who caresRecommend

  • KJ

    This piece needs to be edited. While it’s a light read, it still needs work. Recommend

  • Eymaad

    “Nahin, sir, woh do dukanay pehlay milta hai, KFC par”…that was the heart of the whole article… loved it :)Recommend

  • Adeel Alavi


    Great going….loved the piece…….Thouroughly enjoyed it…Looking forward to see more from you….:)


  • Parvez

    Absolutely first class stuff, this !! You are just amazing when you focus on the lighter side of things. Loved it and had a good laugh as well.Recommend

  • abc

    Loved it!Recommend

  • Tabish

    Ohh… I was not knowing that there is a chowpatty chat house in Karachi… nice. Have always heard chowpatty in Bombay. Nice…Recommend

  • Hala

    so cute
    fun to readRecommend

  • Adil Mulki

    Nice write-up. Better than some serious ones by the same author.
    Some pointers:
    Mr. Burger is the first Burger Chain of Karachi and it still has a handful of branches in Karachi serving the same good old Mr. Big with Cheese and Egg !!! :)
    One Potato Two Potato (OPTP) also opened up a few branches
    Student Biryani is another brand that’s opened up a few branches all over Karachi.Recommend

  • Faizan Mahmood

    The Nimco in Dellawalla actually has 4 branches and boasts that on their bags and logos. They’ve wiped out that “Only one branch” thing from their logo but now include the addresses plus phone numbers of all of those new branches. Recommend

  • Abbas

    lol, good one… atlast something other than US-Pak tension… Recommend


    Really an adorable comment. Thank you Meriyum .Recommend

  • http://[email protected] Techomaniac

    Good work. I really hate why the Saddar Nimco walas always “proudly” write on their bag “Hamari koi branch nahi”. I just wonder at their stupidity. Bhai, if you don’t open your own branches, then somebody else will!Recommend

  • SaudiRules

    “Asli Bombay Chaat House. Baraber walay say dhoka mat khayay”. Way to stick it to ‘em, boys.
    HHHHHHHHelllllpppp mmeeee!!! I cant stop laughing. LOL!!Recommend

  • xulqar

    Once i went to murree. On mall road, i saw a banner ( Landi kotal kay mash-hoor Chapali kabab). I laughed with my self. You know why, because i belong to landi kotal and their isn’t any mash-hoori about our chapali kababs. These are just sale tactics, nothing else. Recommend

  • Study Abroad

    Great Post……Recommend

  • Lost treasure

    Meiryum, I understand that you’re young and all, but please try to work on improving your style a bit. I grudgingly agree with KJ. This piece needs to be re-written by editors. your beginning reads like an ad. The tone is slightly in your face and bland. Recommend

  • Sana

    How come Meiryum Ali thinks it fit to sprinkle Urdu idiomatic phrases all over her “blogs” without any English translations (as provided by all other bloggers)? Are the rules at ET blogs bent for this writer? Recommend

  • Sh

    @Lost treasure:
    Meiryum, you are best of REMOVING the fact that you are young or still studying as that is why people are picking on your writing style. “Bachi hai, us ko nahi pata hai”. This piece was perfect!Recommend


    ET seems to be disregarding my comments. So much for the freedom of expression! Recommend