Walla: Middle Eastern Fast Food
Has K-towns new eatery got what it takes to hit the spot?
Being on the constant hunt for exciting flavors and exciting menus takes us to a new eatery every week. This week, we were cravings some Middle Eastern classics with a twist, and so this hunt landed us at “Walla “ for a quick bite to eat. This small cozy café on Shahbaz Commercial in Karachi was serving up just that traditional Middle Eastern taste we set out to find, but with their own cultural spin.
The intimate space has a limited seating arrangement, which has become a go-to for the business model for many new eateries. Keep it small and simple, with a quick turnover and limited overheads… and this seems to be working! The walls are decked out in a black and orange color theme with modern graphics that bring together the best of two worlds – New York-style fast food with an Arab twist. The menu is displayed on the screen hanging from the ceiling behind the counter, and since this is a small joint, they are currently offering a limited variety of items.
They have a step by step – build your own dish algorithm, which always gives patrons a chance to mix and match as they please. You start with your base, with three categories to pick from; Shawarma (with options for Saj and Pita bread), Snack Pack (which is a bed of French fries) an d the Rice Platter (with options for a buttery and fiery rice). Step 2 is picking your protein – chicken, beef or both! Step 3 is your fillings aka all those yummy add ons like pickles, onion and jalapeno’s, where you can go up to three. Lastly, Step 4 (my favorite part) is your choice of sauces. With five options (spicy Red, Jalapeno, Smokey BBQ, Garlic Sauce, and Tikka) you can really pack on all that flavor to finish off your dish.
They also have some signature dishes that caught our eye as well. To start things off we orders an “Aussie” which was part of the Snack Pack options and it was precisely what we would want from a middle eastern taste of French fries. Loaded with cheese and topped with three different sauces, it was a great starter for two of us to kick things off. Our next order was The Walla Original Rice Platter, in which we had a bed of buttery rice served with Chicken and Beef (yes, we opted for both options! No judgment, right?). This tasted… ok, I guess – but there is room here for improvement as the menu mentioned it as “Butter rice” whereas there was no hint of butter in the rice. The platter, priced 480-PKR is not sufficient for one person!
Our last order for the night was two different Shawarmas, We had ordered one Walla Original in chicken and the other, Amigo in Beef. The Wallah Original was too bland for our palate and had simple ingredients which were chicken, lettuce and tomatoes. Trust us when we say, this isn’t even the original taste from UAE. Where was the spice? Where was that zing factor that made it stand out? Disheartened, we went into our 2nd Shawarma with more optimist. The Amigo, which had a beef filling along with jalapenos, jalapeno sauce, cheese, and hummus, was sadly a little underwhelming as well. Though it tasted nice, it promised a lot of spice but didn’t deliver so. Although both the shawarmas were different and the latter one tasted good, the standard of spice and flavor should be enhanced as per our Pakistani palette.
We wrapped up our meal with Blueberry Ice Tea and Mint Lemonade, both of which was bursting with flavor and perfectly balanced. A refreshing drink is always a good choice to help settle a heavy meal!
Overall, Walla kept their promise of giving us fast food but failed to deliver the level of spice we expected. Next time – we are going to opt for a building our meal from scratch and not depending on their signature dishes to hit the spot. Maybe it’s about finding that balance that works best for you?