BOTS and SARA are the two most talked about abbreviations among the good food lovers these days in Karachi. The rave is about the Biryani of the Seas (BOTs), a seafood roadside dhaba style restaurant owned and run by the very young, and dynamic entrepreneur Syed Ali Raza Abidi (nicknamed SARA by his foody friends)- a business graduate from Boston and also CEO of the Ikhlaq Enterprises, one of the leading fish exporters of Pakistan.
With the access to all the prime export quality seafood and the love of cooking, Ali ventured into providing good quality seafood cuisines at a very affordable price. There was a time when seafood entrée like lobster tail, fish steak, bbq prawns, calamari etc. were available either in Chinese restaurants or elite fine dining restaurants and were also pretty much out of the reach of an average income family or office goers.
Ali mastered the art of cooking during his six years in the multicultural crowd of the dorms in Boston, learning various traditions, styles and recipes. He started Biryani of the Seas in 2010, primarily serving fish and prawn biryani out of a small dhaba style roadside establishment at Clifton available for home delivery, take away and dine in.
Over the two years this restaurant has grown to offer extensive seafood Chinese, Italian, Pakistani, South Indian and Goan dishes. The menu has a fabulous selection of curries, karahis, bun kebabs, soups, bar b que, pasta, steaks, rolls, dossa, rice and many more cooked with prawns and fish both as well as chicken.
I am personally a regularly customer of this eatery and often get the food delivered for dinners or for parties. The BOTs dishes always are the winners at all parties. I never have a disappointed moment when I order a meal at the end of a tiring day with no time to cook. The Goan Shrimp curry is an all time hit with me, medium sized shrimps is cooked in a very delicious and fiery curry paste with hint of tamarind and chilies, makes a satisfying meal paired with steamed rice and a spoonful of achaar. The Goan curry is also available in fish and crabmeat. Prawn Chillie Dry, with vegetable fried rice is one such entrée that always brings out great compliments every time I serve it on my table. These are prawns stir-fried in a mild garlic, caramelized onions and fresh green chilies, a must eat for anyone visiting or ordering from BOTs. My latest obsession is the Tsunami Prawns, a dish made of the sesame crusted large sized pan seared prawns dipped in a fiery sauce. This sauce is a unique preparation of the worlds third hottest locally grown green chillies ‘Bhut Jhulokia” and other condiments. The good thing is that the sauce is served separately so we can adjust the amount that we can tolerate. It is really a stormy experience devouring these prawns while our nose and eyes storms.
If you want to enjoy high quality BBQ fish and prawn, just catch a glimpse of SARA himself standing on his BBQ pit fanning some juicy, spicy or mildly marinated jumbo prawns and huge steaks of snappers. Yes that is the secret of success with BOTs, Ali cooks himself whenever possible, he creates all the recipes himself, trains and teaches his cooks and is there to take customers feedback, criticism, ideas on taste, presentation, menu very openly and positively.
The downside of dine in at BOTS is the slow service owing to the fact that it is mostly overcrowded in the evenings specially over the weekends, the service gets awfully slow and finding a place is challenging. There is a big demand for service from this restaurant, which is overwhelming with the limited roadside sitting arrangement for dinners.
Recently they have come up with a two floor dining area next to the existing outlet but I did not see any glaring improvement in the service since it is always full to capacity. BOTS is planning on opening another upscale restaurant DHA area, but well that will definitely have high-end prices as well.
Ali, uses nothing but the top most export quality seafood brought every day from his factory at the fisheries. One get dishes cooked with giant prawns, the prime steaks of red snapper, surmai, lobster tails or squid rings at a reasonable price. The servings are generous and filling. A dinner with seafood entrée for two, take away or dine in would never cost more then Rs.600-700.
A true novelty constituting the best of the seafood harvest from the coasts of Karachi for everyone.