Upon the special invitation of Chef Shahnawaz, we headed down to Amu for our Sunday brunch. Having heard so much about Amu from others, we were told that special consideration will be taken for our dining experience. “We’ve even imported specific ingredients just for your meal,” Chef Shahnawaz told us.
With that in mind, the anticipation of eating out at a restaurant that is run by a Michelin-trained chef, who’s worked in New York, our palates were already developing hunger pangs.
Amu is located in a gorgeous house from the 70s that’s located in the posh locality of Gulberg. The entrance is from the side, with a cute main door, upon which is written Amu in gold-plated plaque.
The first thing that hits us when we enter through the door is the aroma of the apples that have been stacked on the white shelves. This is a very clever move on the part of the restaurant design, as the whiffs of the apple’s aroma transports us to apple orchards, thereby preparing our senses for the upcoming meal.
Walking through the steps up to the first floor, we were immediately brought to ease and comfort with the feeling that we are entering their own house. There is none of that fancy element that is often seen at other fine dining establishments in Lahore.
At 1130am on a Sunday morning, there were only a handful of people in the dining hall, which meant we had enough peace and quiet to have great conversations at the table. The younger brother of Chef Shahnawaz, chef Shah Ali waited us at the table and ran us through our different options. We chose Eggs Royale and the Omelet as they came highly recommended. Along with that, we ordered fruit lemonade, orange juice and I ordered passion fruit.
The ambiance was rather relaxed with enough sunlight pouring in from the front of the hall. We were seated on the right side of the hall which allowed us to get an overview. With carpeted floors, paintings on the all and potted plants around the room, we literally felt as if we were dining out at a friend’s house instead of a posh restaurant.
The first thing to arrive on our table was the fruit platter, which chef Shah Ali mentioned were outsourced from their farm in Muridke, as well as specific fruits imported from world over (they also outsource their dairy products from their farm).
I cannot tell you enough, but taking a bite from the passion fruit at the center of the plate took me back to the time when I had passion fruit every day in Phuket. That is how good it was! The rest of the fruits had that succulent, smooth juicy taste to them, which made it a delight to devour (If only my own cook would prepare fruits for me like, I would be eating them more regularly!)
As we were served our fruit drinks, Chef Shah Ali shared how his elder brother was preparing our meals himself in the kitchen, and we were just delighted to hear, for this is something which is very rare for Lahore restaurants. It is commendable to see how a young man takes this much interest in the preparation of the guests’ meals.
The fruit lemonade, in a glass that was clear at the bottom but full of color fruits at the top, was a real thirst quencher, but it was my passion fruit that I totally fell in love with. Hands down, Amu serves the best passion fruit drink in town (I can’t help but think how inferior passion fruit at other restaurants have been!).
The wait surprisingly wasn’t long for our main course to arrive. The Omelet was made just the way I would have liked them, fluffy, consistent and utterly appetizing. Eggs Royale consisted of eggs on a sourdough bread with salmon and hollandaise sauce, with a side helping of potatoes and salad leaves. According to Chef Shah Ali, Eggs Royale has a slight twist to the traditional Eggs Benedict.
The highlight for me was most definitely the sourdough bread, which I developed a fascination for when I was in London this past summer. Sourdough is a much lighter bread, which works perfectly for me as I don’t develop that heaviness in my stomach, which regular bread does.
Dining out at Amu reminded me heavily of my dining experiences at other Michelin-star chef’s restaurants such as Nuno Mendes’ Chiltern Firehouse in London and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and Bar at Atlantis Palm Island, Dubai. It became obvious as to how much effort has been put in the creation of our meals. It’s the details that count, as was obvious in the presentation, selection of food products and maintaining the right flavours.
Amu simply believes in the less is more policy, where it’s all about the food.
As were leaving, Chef Shahnawaz came out and thanked us personally for dining at Amu. I mentioned how I write for Huffington Post and am getting into restaurant reviews, he immediately invited me dinner at Amu. Chef Shahnawaz is a man who has made his dream come true, and it’s a sheer pleasure to see how his passion has brought him this far. He shared with us of his future plans, and mentioned how his brother, who is a pastry chef, is getting into bread-making and all.
Amu is that fine dining restaurant that Lahore can proudly boast off and one that is on par with fine dining establishments around the world. It has created a bit of a problem for me personally, as the standard for great food has been set so high, other restaurants pale in comparison.
As for me, I’ve already decided to take my friends out to Amu for my birthday in May. Yes, that’s how good Amu is!