Pakistani-Indian Restaurant in San Francisco Is Open on Thanksgiving

Pakistani-Indian Restaurant in San Francisco Is Open on Thanksgiving

My mother and father are Indian-Burmese. I’m the youngest of 4, and the one one born in America. Rising up in Southern California, I used to be uncovered early to all kinds of meals; it was commonplace for me to eat a South Asian biryani, a Burmese mohinga—a dish of rice noodles and fish—and Del Taco all in the identical day (a fairly good consuming day, I’d say). When my eldest sister acquired married to a Pakistani man she’d met in faculty, my meals acquired even higher. That’s once I realized in regards to the deliciousness that’s nihari.

This wealthy, spicy beef stew has roots within the latter years of the Mughal Empire, within the late 18th century. The dish is often made with beef shank slowly cooked for hours till the meat is fork-tender and its fats has rendered, making a spherical and flavorful sauce that sticks to your lips. A squeeze of lemon or lime helps brighten it, together with a closing flourish of cilantro and some slivers of uncooked ginger. Use some freshly baked naan to mop all of it up and go to city. It’s PFG. My brother-in-law taught my sister how you can make it, and it’s been on heavy rotation within the household ever since.

The Pretty F*cking Good logo is a a hand serving up the title on a plate.
In San Francisco, Pakwan Restaurant has the closest factor I’ve discovered to the nihari I grew up consuming. It’s spicy and somewhat oily; it doesn’t maintain again, similar to my sister’s.

Pakwan’s founders, Mohammad Shahbaz and Khalid Amin, are Pakistani immigrants who met in faculty within the Nineteen Eighties and have become roommates, then pals and ultimately enterprise companions.

“For me, it was a ardour—I loved cooking,” mentioned Shahbaz, who labored for a time as a civil engineer, whereas Amin studied resort and restaurant administration.

Co-founder Mohammad Shabaz and his son and General Manager Danial Shabaz are seen at the Mission District location of Pakwan.
Co-founder Mohammad Shahbaz and his son and Normal Supervisor Danial Shahbaz are seen on the Mission District location of Pakwan. | Supply: Jason Henry for The Commonplace

They opened Pakwan in 1999, and 25 years later, the restaurant has 5 areas—three within the metropolis and two within the East Bay. The unique is on O’Farrell Road within the Tenderloin, however I’ve been consuming on the sixteenth Road Pakwan since I moved to the town greater than 16 years in the past, and it’s simply as strong because the flagship. Shahbaz and his son, Danial, run these areas, plus one other in San Francisco, on Ocean Avenue, whereas Amin oversees retailers in Hayward and Fremont.

A spoonful of Coriander, left, and chicken, seekh, lamb, and chicken thigh kabob skewers, right, before being grilled in a tandoor oven that gives the food its signature smokey flavor.
A spoonful of coriander, left, and rooster, seekh, lamb, and rooster thigh kabob skewers, proper, earlier than being grilled in a tandoor oven that offers the meals its signature smokey taste. | Supply: Jason Henry for The Commonplace

What makes Pakwan so good? For one factor, they supply a variety of their spices straight from Pakistan and toast and grind them day by day–an important step that helps awaken the spices. “It provides you a greater taste,” says Shahbaz.

The opposite dish I gravitate to is Pakwan’s rooster biryani, a aromatic rice dish that’s eaten all through South Asia. It’s the one dish I at all times ask for once I go residence to go to my household. I’d go so far as to position biryani up there with the world’s best meals, side-by-side with pizza and tacos.

Chicken biryani steams on a plate at Pakwan restaurant in San Francisco.
Aromatic and fluffy rooster biryani is a must have when visiting Pakwan. | Supply: Jason Henry for The Commonplace

Pakwan’s model encompasses a huge mound of aromatic rice, beneficiant chunks of marinated rooster and completely cooked potatoes to absorb the ghee and spices. Pakwan is beneficiant with the fried onions, which give candy bursts of umami which might be an important part of a superb biryani. Prime it with raita—a cooling yogurt sauce that enhances the spicy rice. Personally, I desire squirts of Pakwan’s herby inexperienced chutney—it has a bit extra character, and it’s free.

Did I point out Pakwan makes its personal yogurt and ghee? This form of consideration to element elevates the standard of the meals and creates consistency. It exhibits they care.

Chicken, seekh, chicken thigh, and lamb chop kabobs with naan and a mango lassi at Pakwan restaurant/
Rooster, seekh, rooster thigh, and lamb chop kabobs with naan and a mango lassi make up a portion of the huge and vibrant menu at Pakwan. | Supply: Jason Henry for The Commonplace

Don’t miss the tandoor part. Meats cooked over charcoal are merely very good. Whether or not it’s tacos al carbon or wild Norwegian mackerel grilled over the fireplace on the fancy-tasting menu restaurant kiln, there’s simply one thing magical that occurs when smoke meets meat. The tandoor is an ideal software for this course of, because it traps and concentrates the smoke across the meat, making a extra intense aroma and taste.

Order the meat seekh kabob, which is made day by day with recent floor beef blended with additional fats trimmed from beef shanks, a load of dry spices, recent ginger and garlic paste and a wholesome serving to of diced inexperienced serrano chiles. Wrap it in a chunk of naan and make a sandwich. Collectively, one kabob and an order or naan will set you again a whopping $6. Lamb chops and bone-in-chicken legs are additionally a pleasant alternative from the tandoori menu.

A hand is seen dipping freshly made naan into the nihari dish at Pakwan.
Your arms are your finest utensils when dipping the freshly made naan within the nihari. | Supply: Jason Henry for The Commonplace

Three final Pakwan pro-tips: 1) Take note of the altering day by day menu of specials, and in case you see haleem on the menu, order it. This hearty rooster lentil and grain porridge is certainly one of my favourite dishes at Pakwan.  2) The restaurant is BYOB. I’d counsel BYOW, really, as a result of beer generally is a heavy beverage to pair with such a wealthy delicacies. As an alternative, pair a pét-nat or another effervescent wine together with your Pakistani fare. The bubbles are simply the factor to chop via the spicy richness of all of it. 3) Pakwan is open on holidays, together with Thanksgiving and Christmas, making it a wonderful choice in case cranberries and stuffing aren’t your factor.

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based author & cookie dough skilled. Discover him on Instagram.


️ 🗓️ Open 7 days every week  | 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
📍 3180-82 sixteenth St., San Francisco (see web site for different areas)

Video editor Rhea Bergazo contributed to this report.

Questions, feedback or issues about this text could also be despatched to

You may also like...

Leave a Reply