I have a soft spot for small businesses whose owners put their hearts and souls into their ventures. Such is the case for the delightfully quirky Pakistani restaurant, BBQ King. Father and son team Hafeez Ahmad and Tariq Ismail sold their convenience stores to raise the money to open the restaurant. The East Texas stores became a spiritual burden, as selling liquor violated their Islamic religious principles. Hafeez says, “We lost money, but it was money for the grave.”
In a time when most restaurants are mass produced themes, this place is a rare, quirky treat. First, there’s the name: “BBQ King” for a Pakistani restaurant? Sure. Why not? Recorded chants play, reminiscent of the vibe at Kalachandji’s. The seating is more function than glamour. Factory looking napkin dispensers do their job. Then there is the buffet table. With an infectious laugh, Tariq explains: the previous owner had it build on site. Now, it’s too big to get out the door. The only way to remove it is to tear out a wall, which costs too much money. Regulars get the joke; it’s a unused buffet table in a restaurant where food is cooked to order.
Let’s face it. It’s not going to win any design awards anytime soon, but Oh! The food! Made fresh, with top quality ingredients, the food is gaining a following of devoted diners. I heard the grilled meats were good, so my expectations were high. The quality far exceeded my high expectations. “Melt in your mouth” might sound like an old cliche but no other phrase quite describes the melting tenderness of the freshly grilled to order Chicken Green Boti. It is seasoned with a guarded secret herb blend.
Order grilled food like a regular. Place your order before you leave the house or prepare to wait. It takes about 25 minutes. It is well worth the time.
Get the naan bread. Seriously. While other restaurants buy naan pre-made and packaged, BBQ King makes it fresh to order. The onion naan – can I just have a few of those to go? Chucky bits of red onion are embedded into fresh dough that is ever so slightly charred. On a recent visit, I tried the chicken keemay naan, filled with minced chicken and seasonings. When asked the seasoning, the waiter smiled politely and said, “It’s a chef’s secret. I’m glad you enjoy it.”
Other dishes of note include Karahi sauce (ginger, cilantro, chili and tomato), Korma (masala spice and cream) and Palak sauce (spinach, milk and cream). The spiciness of a dish can be adjusted to taste. Take a tip from this spice-loving foodie: order mild.
BBQ King gets most of its business from catering. That’s good news for restaurant goers. It means a table is readily available. Come for a leisurely, alcohol-free meal. Don’t forget to get some naan to go.
Hafeez, Tariq and staff are gracious and friendly. Their food is deliciously otherworldly. No wonder their dream is becoming reality.
BBQ King | 110 S Greenville Ave, Richardson | 972.807.6910