The month of August- named after Augustus Caesar and symbolizing majesty- is somewhat of a bummer as far as Indian curry houses in Shanghai go. This is traditionally the month when old/new/unprofitable peddlers of curry in Shanghai pack up and run. Blame it on an extended plum rain season, but as the OCC began their monthly hunt for a curry house to review, it soon became apparent that August was up to its old tricks again.
That, however meant that the OCC ventured into the hitherto unreviewed world of Pakistani curry at Khan Baba- a newly opened establishment on 158 Xianxia Lu in Changning
In a stark contrast to Indian curry houses that cater to your inner Bollywood starlet- everything about Khan Baba’s décor exudes ‘Old curry house on the Corner’. Though this is a newly opened venue, the OCC were not discouraged by this ambience (or the lack of it). We were pleasantly surprised when the owners went out of their way to accommodate our iconic Gandhi standee in the cramped space- no doubt startling many learned observers at this display of Indo-Pak solidarity. Sadly, that solid gesture failed to make up for the small floor space, frequent Sherpa’s announcements on the loudspeaker, and a bathroom that was 3 doors away in the depths of the mall housing the restaurant. Not surprisingly, Khan Baba scored a rather poor 5.3 for atmosphere, their lowest scores for the night.
With pleasantries out of the way, the OCC got down to the solemn duty of ordering food. For a restaurant that ostensibly serves the best Pakistani cuisine, the brethren were slightly dismayed to find Fish and Chips on the menu but a paucity of popaddums. No negative points were awarded for this however- we agree that popaddums are an Indian and not Pakistani staple. Our starters comprised of the Crispy Aloo Pakoras and Fish Pakoras, a hearty affair followed by Keema Samosas and a slightly out of place Hummus with Garlic Bread. The absence of alcohol at the venue prompted some of the thirstier members to order tea. The venue serves Masala and Doud Patti chais, the difference between the two offerings being that the Doud Patti is milkier than its Indian counterpart- a fact that the establishment rightly prides itself on. Shrugging off the absence of alcohol, we moved on to the mains- Mutton and Chicken Handi, the house specialty Tarka dal and Aloo Gobi. Accompanying the food were the breads, something which Khan Baba does exceedingly well. Most of Shanghai’s curry houses may do breads as an accompaniment, but Khan Baba’s are a treat to savor. Except for a dubious Aloo Gobi, the food itself was satisfactory and generally enjoyed by the members. The quality of ingredients was however a let down and as a result Khan Baba’s Quality score stands at a below par 6.
Service too was a sore point as the staff kept missing our orders. This coupled with the inability to ensure that all members had a plate to eating out of, sadly meant that Khan Baba’s customer care scores too plummeted.
It must be said here that Khan Baba delivers great value for money- as was demonstrated by a resounding score of 7.6 for Value. In fact, with costs coming to a very welcome 120 RMB per head, this was one of the cheapest dinners the OCC have had- a fact not lost on us in these challenging times of economic strife.
With a bit of work on the flavor profile, service and overall atmosphere, the OCC can see Khan Baba emerging as a solid alternative to existing curry houses in the city.
As of now however, with a total score of 6.1, Khan Baba fails to win itself the coveted OCC sticker and is NOT OCC APPROVED.
P.S- No political/geographical sensibilities were considered in the course of writing this review 😊