I’ve been waiting for a good Pakistani-style kabab and biriyani place in Portland for a while now. And after one of my friends mentioned about Zaiqa, I was more than desperate to try this new place. By the way readers, if you know of any other Pakistani kabab places in the Portland area, please let me know.
Zaiqa is a brand new Pakistani/Indian, also Mediterranean restaurant very close to the Hillsboro airport, where Urban Masala used to be once. My friend and I were there last evening, on a weeknight, around 8pm. It was empty for a while, until couple other people showed up. While the owner and the waiter are still learning their ways in the new business and how to please the customers, their friendliness was 5-stars. Yes, we had to shout “excuse me” few times to get us a table and we were not given the shiniest and cleanest plates nor served with water when our glasses were totally empty or the fact that the guy took away my left over beef kabab without asking me and gave me a take away box only for my chicken kababs. But the owner came and talked to us for a while and mentioned he was a pilot and his chef has a master degree in mathematics. They are just doing this for fun, to earn money, and kind of as a project to explore business ideas.
Zaiqa is a halal/kosher place where variety of meats used here are slaughtered in proper Muslim/Jewish way. This is not only a Southeast Asian place, the menu also covers little bit of Mediterranean tastes too. We ordered beef kabab, chicken kabab, garlic naan, and chana daal tarkkah. It took little bit longer than usual, given that we were the only customers at that time. But the owner came and assured us that the chef cooks everything from scratch and with fresh ingredients…that’s why the long wait. And of course, once our food arrived, we could taste that in our dishes. The kababs were fantastic. Again, the I loved the kababs, especially the beef skewers. They were moist, soft, perfectly seasoned, and will hit your spot right away. We requested to make them extra hot. But spice level wasn’t up to our standard and we were expecting a little bit more kick. The daal was very flavorful and the garlic naans were fresh out of the oven with beautiful aroma.
Despite some of the obvious flaws of this restaurant, the owner was very honest about how he wants to improve his business. He told us specifically to go to Google, Facebook page, and Yelp to review their restaurants, so that they can learn and improve. I can care less for those small things if the food satisfies my soul. And it did. The friend who recommended me this place, said to go try their brunch items…I just couldn’t wait until Saturday or Sunday to do that. But I’ll come back again during their brunch time someday (where they have halwa, puri and nehari). Another thing I have to try here is their biriyani (I love Pakistani-style biriyani). I think I have found my perfect desi kababs here and I am even thinking of catering their kababs for large gatherings and events.
Zaiqa’s buffet is only during lunch time if anyone is interested in that. Please go check it out, I can guarantee you that you will love the place and if you try their brunch, biriyanis, or other dishes, do let me know how they were.