I was walking down Leavenworth this afternoon to go see Michael Swaine at the Tenderloin National Forest. Mid-stride at O’Farrell, I noticed a heap of furniture outside of Lahore Karahi. Deathly concerned that they might be moving, I stopped in to ask what was going on. It was a bit past 3 and the dining room was empty but owner/chef Zulfiqar ‘Guddu’ Haider was cleaning up some pots in the open kitchen. He assured me that nothing was happening besides regular cleanup (always good to see) and just as I was about to rush off to my afternoon plans, he insisted I have some chai with him. I love chai as much as I love cussing, so I had to accept.
After a few minutes of chatting about his native Punjab and how he has relatives spread out over a few continents (including a brother in Sacramento), a regular came by to order a fish curry to go. He apparently had tried to call, but Guddu didn’t pick up the phone. A mischievous smiled passed his face and then started preparing the fish. The regular then proceeded to tell me how he had been addicted to Lahore Karahi’s food since they opened some 6 years ago, back when they didn’t have fish curry on the menu. So, he would bring his own fish and Guddu would cook it for him, until they decided to add it in the menu proper as it had become a popular request.
While we were reviewing other Indian/Pakistani restaurants in the area (the TandooriLoin if you must), Guddu pulled out a plate full of watermelon seemingly from nowhere that I munched on with my chai. Once this regular concluded that Shalimar used to be good but went downhill once the the rave reviews established it as a fixture, he left happily with his fish curry. Finished with my chai, I went to get some holes in my house/slackery pants fixed while daydreaming about Guddu’s delicious curries.