There are always those days when one looks to having fun without taxing the last dregs of the month’s hard earned salary. And that’s where restaurants like Biryani of the Seas or, more famously, BOTS fit the bill.
Location And Ambiance:
Set up as an informal roadside eatery, BOTS is a seafood restaurant with two outlets in Karachi – Clifton and K.A.E.C.H.S. Reputed to be the better one, the Clifton outlet dwells between PSO House and Clifton Bridge, primarily offering outdoor seating with inexpensive plastic furniture spread over a broad lane in front of the premises. One also has the option of sitting indoors in the air-conditioned double storey dining hall.
Opting to sit outside, we were quickly shown to a grubby table and handed the menu by a hurried waiter. The double-sided four leaf menu is quite extensive and on first look, baffles the diner on what to order.
With an eclectic mix of dishes ranging from biryani, soups, curries, barbecue, Chinese seafood, rolls, pizza and much more, the restaurant has something for everyone.
We decided to order the prawn biryani (single) and Dhaka fish finger (250 gm.), priced at Rs. 200 each, along with the prawn makhni handi (single), priced at Rs. 600. All prices were inclusive of tax.
The Dhaka fish finger was the first to arrive with a serving of around 11 pieces of fish.
Fried in a batter of flour and white sesame seeds, the fish was mildly spicy, moist and smelled fresh. It was served with two types of dips – spicy tamarind chutney and a tomato dipping sauce. The tamarind chutney – with pieces of coriander, green chilies and crushed red chilies – was too watery to give any texture to the fish. In contrast, the tomato dip, with a concoction of thin strips of carrot, ginger and garlic, went fabulously with the fish and enhanced its flavor twofold. The serving size was generous and suitable for two people.
The prawn biryani,considered to be the restaurant’s signature dish, came next but was barely warm so we requested the server to replace it. After being reminded twice, he finally found his way back to our table with the biryani, which this time was hot, thankfully. With a liberal serving of prawns, the biryani was very spicy and tasted like any other that one would find at a dhaba. The prawns were well cooked, soft and coated in a spicy masala. Accompanying the biryani was a blissfully cold and tangy raita, which had the right amount of zing. The serving was generous and filling for one person.
The prawn makhni handi came last and turned out to be the better part of our order. Served steaming hot, the handi was a rich potpourri of cream and butter with a healthy but manageable dose of spice. Garnished with white sesame seeds and crushed cumin, the dish tasted divine and was freshly made.The serving also did not disappoint with a helping of around 17 to 18 succulent prawns making this dish ideal for two people.
The roghni naan, ordered alongside the handi, was also fresh from the oven and helped amplify its flavor.
The restaurant’s service was quite speedy and efficient, but the staff seemed to be harried and preferred spending the least possible time per table. Moreover, the waiters were not very knowledgeable about the exhaustive menu and need to be trained in the art of guiding customers on what to order by giving their recommendations.
Hit Or Miss? A Hit!:
With a price tag of Rs. 400 – 700 per head, Biryani of the Seas is your typical dhaba-style roadside eatery with seafood for the masses, average service quality, minimum fuss about hygiene and an abundant local population of stray cats. It is no fine dining restaurant but therein lies its very charm. The laid back and unpretentious environment, coupled with an emphasis on great value for money, a diverse menu and simple but fresh, savory seafood is what makes BOTS a winner. The restaurant also delivers all over Karachi and is great for students and office-goers who want wholesome food that is light on the pocket.
The establishment, however, does not accept credit/debit cards and takes payment by cash only. My rating for Biryani of the Seas (BOTS) is 3/5.