Pakistani


Naan N Curry is an Pakistani-Indian restaurant on Breckenridge Road a block or so north of the Breckenridge intersection on Pleasant Hill Road. It offers an inexpensive buffet at lunch, one very easy to get to and get into. Just pick up a plate, choose your foods, and pay once you’re done. The clientele are mixed. There are plenty of South Asians here, and watching whole families show in traditional dress is visually exciting.

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Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

The buffet has perhaps 15-20 choices or so at lunch, a salad bar that contains chutneys, among other things, and slices of jalapenos that have pretty reasonable spice to them. The buffet is notably clean, not as confused as the one in Asma’s Cuisine.

There was one notable dish out of the ones served here. The cabbage curry is quite good and worth your time and effort. Other dishes were lacking something, perhaps even disappointing. I’ve never had a single solid piece of beef when I show here. All I see in the beef dishes are plenty of bones. Outside of the cabbage curry, the dishes lack spice.

Asma’s is a spicier, more interesting buffet in my opinion, nor does Naan N Curry rise to the level of the buffet in Moksha Kitchen. Now, you won’t suffer from eating here, but if you’re wanting plenty of flavor, consider alternatives.

Naan N Curry
3083 Breckinridge Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 912-9924

Naan 'N Curry on Urbanspoon

The lunch buffet here is a syrupy mess, with beef, curries and chicken tikka. It’s inexpensive: a buffet and a soda cost less than 8 dollars. It can be, at times, hard to dig the meats out of the pools of broth, and access to one or another ingredient may be very dependent on whether the buffet is recently stocked.

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Beef nehari, beef karahi, and on the bottom of the photo, bagare baingan.

Still, it was good, with decent spice in some dishes. I especially liked the beef nehari. There was decent flavor in that dish. I wasn’t as pleased with the beef karahi, which seemed all bones to me. The bagare baingan was quite good, and at times, could really bring on the heat.

The mall Asma’s is located in is a halal hotbed, full of small places to eat. Further, in the mall, an Indian Chinese restaurant is going to arrive soon.

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I don’t recall convenient Indian Chinese since the one restaurant on Peachtree Industrial was around (back when Books Japan was on Peachtree Industrial, and in the same mall).

Asma’s Cuisine
3099 Breckinridge Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 380-9548

Asma's Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Biryani House is a small, neat Bangladeshi eatery just west of the Highway 29 – Indian Trail intersection in Lilburn, in a small strip mall south of the road, next to a halal grocer. This kind of small store is becoming a pattern along Indian Trail, and finding time to look into each one a little tricky. These are restaurants that, because of their small size, allow the patron a chance to get away from the steamed foods of Indian buffets. What you get here is freshly prepared. And if you have a preference – mild or spicy – places like this can accommodate you.

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Biryani House features counter style service.

Biryani House features counter style service.

These are the ideal spots for chicken 65. Anything fried, that needs to be hot coming to the plate, will be best prepared in a South Asian restaurant of this kind. And the chicken 65 here did not disappoint.

A good chicken 65.

A good chicken 65.

Unusual in this dish are the spices and aromatics that accompanied the meats. The spicing was relatively mild (even though I asked for spicy) but grew on you as you ate. This was one of the better chicken 65 dishes I’ve had in Atlanta, good enough to go back and order take out.

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I had beef kabab as well, unusual in that they used whole meat instead of ground beef. Spices were found in a layer outside the meat. I didn’t know going in the restaurant was Bangladeshi, so I wasn’t expecting anything other than generic IndoPak foods. But I’ve been surprised with every dish I’ve tried so far – not a bad thing really.

Staff here are friendly, and easy to talk to. I had no problems asking for additional spice on my chicken 65, for example.

Biryani House
535 Indian Trail Road
Lilburn GA
(770) 638-1626

Biryani House on Urbanspoon

Darbar is a brand new eatery on Pleasant Hill Road, east of I-85, one still in the process of being made. They have a large working space, and although they’ve begun the task of shaping it into their own, it still has a partly unfinished look. I’m sure that over time they’ll remedy that, but if you arrive in the next few days just realize that some eateries have a long gestation period.

The menu  is small, the choices just a few. There are kababs, some curries, some combos of kababs and curries, breads, rice, desserts. I ordered a seekh kabab and a chicken qorma (a curry) when I came. Staff came out, insisting that I buy naan, that their food was spicy. I had to say I was a diabetic, naan and I don’t really get along.

I was happy for the spicing though. Too much Indian food in this city is dumbed down for Atlantans who can’t eat spicy foods. About half the so-called “Cajun” in Atlanta is a shadow of what Cajuns really eat. Darbar has plenty of spice in their food, and not so much that it’s overwhelming. If I eat, say, a grilled jalapeno or two, I end up wanting bread by the end of the meal. Not here. There was enough spice to let you know it was there, but not enough to ruin your day. I liked the spicing a lot.

Darbar, House of Kababs
1455 Pleasant Hill Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044
(678) 205-8777

Darbar House of Kababs on Urbanspoon

It’s in a small ‘L’ shaped strip mall anchored by an empty Vietnamese restaurant, and easy to miss, unless you see all three of the stores in a row. There is Kabab Hut, a store selling the hijab, and a Hilal grocer all side by side. You’re likely to see Iqra Imports first, a neat little grocery that advertises Halal goat and chicken  in Spanish and English. But to the left of Iqra lies Kabab Hut, about as underimpressive an outside structure as you might ever see. Plain? Yes, quite plain from the outside.

Inside, it’s much cleaner, neater, respectable. It’s set up much like the “mom n pop” Caribbean restaurants. There is a small refrigerator with cans of drinks. There is a bakery display. There is a low counter where you order food. There is a square hole behind the counter that peeks into the kitchen. There  are tables  – good looking ones, mind you – scattered about, with booths edging the eatery, and inexpensive hollow steel framed chairs by the tables. One flat screen television is on the wall, where ads for soft drinks and pretty models are intersperced with political broadcasts where the few English words are things like “colonialism” and “American imperialism”. Hey, I’m sure that’s typical and topical in Pakistan.

What’s most important to someone like me is that this isn’t a buffet at lunch, they’re serving hot meals. And since they’re serving food piping hot, you can get things you simply cannot get from a buffet, such as piping hot chicken 65.

Lamb kababs. More spice then their chicken 65, actually.

A good chicken 65. Like French fries, best when eaten piping hot.

I’m convinced the right chicken 65 vendor has a product prepped to go viral, that some aggressive clever entrepreneur, perhaps selling Korean-Mexican-Pakistani fusion food, is going to make it big with chicken 65 packaged like French Fries or perhaps Chicken McNuggets – throw a little sauce on there, make some chicken 65 tacos, put it all in a Twitter enabled van and sell in the right market. It will take off.

In the meantime, in order to figure out what I’m talking about, you’ll need to find the little Pakistani “mom n pop”s and look for dishes like these. Incidentally, chicken 65 is not what the Kabab Hut is about, it’s more about small traditional Pakistani meats and kababs. They have good looking breads for a dollar or so and the dishes run from $3.99 to maybe 5 or 6 dollars. You can eat like a king here for 10 dollars.

The spicing is .. pretty good. It builds. I thought the chicken 65 could have been hotter, but I never want to tempt a South Asian or a Southeast Asian to spice their local spicy. Usually “American spicy” is my perfect heat point. What the food has here is flavor, and a bit of sneaky spice that builds as you eat. I think the average Atlantan could handle these dishes, and I think it isn’t a fraud to those of us who want our foods a little spicier.

So try it sometime. There was a crowd here the day I arrived, one that grew larger as I ate. The locals know about this place, despite the appearance, and they’re eating here. No wonder. Good and cheap translates into any language.

Iqra Imports and Halal Meats
880 Indian Trail Road, Suite E
Lilburn GA 30047
770-638-7171

Kabab Hut
880 Indian Trail Road, Suite C
Lilburn GA 30047
(770) 925-4440

Kabab Hut on Urbanspoon

From the north, Zyka is conveniently located at a fork in the road. Scott Boulevard goes one way, Church Street another. As Zyka shares a common space with a Montessori school, on the Church Street side there is a really large nice parking lot that is hard to miss. On the Scott Street side the divided boulevard makes it impossible to approach without turning around.

This isn’t a place concerned with presentation. Food is purchased at a countertop and served in plastic. Often the foods are oily and it’s hard to fish out the “good bits”. That said, the meats are all Halal and when things are good here, they’re often quite satisfying.

The things to go for here are the Tandoori chicken, the naan, the samosas. We found the Tandoori chicken and samosas to be good, and consistently spiced. The chicken 65 and its cousin, chili chicken, are bland and not really noteworthy. This might be in part to the very poor hot peppers we had on our visits here. They were advertised as “chilis”; with few exceptions they might as well have been bell peppers. This place has quality control issues with its heat, its spiciness. I’ll note I even asked once to make the chicken 65 spicy, and it came out as bland and lifeless as before.

If you watch this video of chicken 65 preparation

Do you think they use 65 different chilis in this preparation?

you’ll note the dish is prepped with plenty of chilis, and that the video author apologizes for how spicy he makes his product. So to be sure, there are different notions of how spicy this dish should be. Even so, I want some spice, and not just a red and underspiced rendition of Kentucky Fried’s best.

I liked most of the other dishes I had. It’s tricky finding diabetic safe vegetables on Zyka’s menu but it is possible.

If you watch the crowds here, they are every color of the rainbow, wearing everything from dress clothes to shorts and slippers. Waiting to place an order, the crowds often extend across a third of the floor, and much of that business is “to go”. Individuals, couples, and large families eat here routinely, so Zyka is surely doing something right.

Zyka
1677 Scott Blvd
Decatur, GA 30033
(404) 728-4444

Zyka on Urbanspoon

Another view of Zyka is presented here.

We’ve spoken of Mughals Restaurant in Norcross before. It’s located in the strip mall on the northeast corner of Jimmy Carter and  Singleton Road, and you can’t see it from the road. Just turn in and it will be there.

When you get there, you’ll order at a counter. They’ll give you a number and  you can sit.

There is a small eating area in front of the counter, and a larger one, their Banquet Hall, to the left as you face the counter. I’ve always found the man who staffs this eatery to be exceptionally patient. And his chicken 65 (explanation of the name is here; video of this dish is here) is good.

There is chili flavor in this fish, and notes of ginger. Neither is overwhelming, but are there. This dish seems to me to be the South Asian answer to the French Fry: something good, a guilty pleasure driven by good spices and the just right amount of hot cooking oil.

Mughal’s Restaurant and Banquet Hall
5265 Jimmy Carter Boulevard
Norcross, Georgia 30093
(770)-446-6941

Mughals on Urbanspoon

It’s in the northeast corner of the strip mall on the northeast corner of Singleton and Jimmy Carter, just a block or two east of the intersection of Jimmy Carter and I-85. It’s unpretentious from the outside, and inside, there is a wide counter where you order and pick up food. Just above the counter is a wide photographic display of the foods Mughal’s Restaurant serves, and throughout the restaurant, there are a collection of long tables and chairs.

Mughal's Restaurant and Hall

Mughal's Restaurant and Hall

Mughal’s is in part a Pakistani restaurant, and I didn’t have a good idea of what they serve. But the staff was polite and helpful, and we chose the Butter Chicken, the Chicken 65, Bhuna Gosht, a couple orders of naan and a couple orders of beef samosas. It didn’t take long for them to prepare the food. The price of my meal, in comparison to other South Asian restaurants, was relatively cheap (most entrees run about 5.99 to 7.99 each). I took it to go, and brought it home to my family.

Well, the Chicken 65 was a big hit, the chicken a dark red color, spicy, deep fried, and delicious. The naan was really good, warm, delicious, and had a bit of a crust. The samosas were small compared to others I’ve had, but they were tasty bites of beef wrapped in a triangular pastry. The Bhuna Gosht was a nice curry flavored beef dish, and while I wasn’t all that impressed with the Buttery Chicken, my daughter enjoyed it a lot.

Verdict: Recommended. Good tasting food, inexpensive and unpretentious. I’m sure I’ll be back to this place.

Mughal’s Restaurant and Hall
5265 Jimmy Carter Boulevard
Norcross, Georgia 30093
(770)-446-6941

Open Tuesday – Sunday 11am to 11pm
Closed on Mondays.

Mughals on Urbanspoon

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