ZIYAAFAT: A CUT ABOVE THE REST
Author: Syeda Saira Ijaz
When it comes to eating out, one looks for certain things. First & foremost is of course the taste & quality of the food, no restaurant is going to survive if they serve bad food. This has to be the backbone of a restaurant but along with good food, service, cleanliness, reasonable pricing & good ambience make the eating out experience more enjoyable. Now, I have eaten at Zabiha Mediterranean/Arab restaurants that fulfill all of the above criteria but sadly finding a Zabiha Desi restaurant, & that too a Pakistani one, is almost an impossible feat.
I say ‘almost’ because here in the Dallas Metroplex we have one gem of a desi restaurant that fulfills all of the criteria for a joyful eating out experience. Ziyaafat, which means banquet in Urdu, is a relatively new restaurant that opened in Plano. They offer an a la carte menu & also weekdays & weekend lunch buffets. The a la carte seems to have mixed reviews, but we always go for the weekend lunch buffet- more on that later.
First, lets talk about the décor because that’s the first thing that strikes you when you enter a place. Ziyaafat has a simple yet elegant reception from where a server will take you to your table. The walls are painted in deep red & the windows are covered in “chiks,” bamboo drapes reminiscent of the motherland. There are beautiful calligraphies & paintings of whirling dervishes adorning the walls. It is not overdone in any way, which is refreshing. There is one more pleasant surprise: No TV! The music that you hear is that of Pakistani pop singers (how pleasantly strange right?)
The service is superb. There are no Uncle or Aunty type waiters hovering around your table making you feel uncomfortable. The servers are clad in black uniforms, tending to all your needs without being a nuisance. The buffet table is on one end of the restaurant, and the servers bring naan & poori to the table.
The buffet is tasty and there is a large variety of dishes. Usually what we have noticed is that in desi buffets, all the food tastes like ‘Shan Masala,’ but not here. Every dish has its own personality. Things are cooked a little differently. The koftas are made of lamb meat, the poor gobi is totally stylized in a fragrant red curry, there are layered parathas, boiled egg saalan, the chicken tikka has more of a tangy tamarind flavor rather than the red food color, there are kid friendly kebab rolls, aloo tikkis, haleem and nihari. They also have dahi bhallay, which are garnished with shredded carrots. I got full just by tasting things & honestly was not even able to taste everything. The halva was so perfect; I just admired it for a while. There was no food color in it; instead it was cooked to a perfect golden brown color.
They also had tea, which was probably the only disappointment. But who cares about a tiny cup of tea when you have feasted like kings? The servers were swift with taking our used plates & keeping our glasses full.
I have noticed that usually only desi people come to desi restaurants but people of many races & nationalities come to dine here, which was nice to see. Another good thing about their buffet menu is that they keep adding new items to it, so you get something different every time you go.
Ziyaafat is a breath of fresh air to the desi/zabiha restaurant scene & I hope that they maintain their high quality so everyone can enjoy a little taste of Pakistan in a pleasant environment.
1301 Custer Road, Suite 510, Plano, TX
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