The south end of King Street seems to have become a little more noisy of late. No, not the doof doof from the loser ghetto boys hooning into town to do laps but more like a repetitive tapping of metal against metal reverberating against the walls and street frontages. It looks like taka tak (or kata kat) has landed in Newtown. Taka what, I hear you ask? Originating in Karachi, this meaty dish is generally made using offal such as kidney, heart, liver and brain; cooked on a large flat griddle and quickly chopped and mixed around with two metal spatulas. The name of this specialty dish comes from the rhythmic sound created as the two blades hit the cooking surface.
Don't let the appearance of this place deter you. It's all about shiny surfaces, splashes of colour on the walls and ceiling and very much a take away kind of vibe. Out the back is a sheesha garden, an area and an exercise I choose to avoid thanks to a bate of nicotine poisoning I got in Egypt almost a decade ago. Nasty things, those sheesha pipes.
As soon as you sit down the friendly staff drop you a bottle of water from the fridge. Very nice gesture, I thought. I'm still not entirely sure whether they like you bringing your vino, being a Halal establishment and all, as they don't really have glasses to drink from other than paper cups. The menu reads much the same as your average Indian/Paki joint, meaning you'll catch many of the usual suspects like seekh kebabs, chicken tikka, korma, palak paneer and biriyani's. A little predictable, some would say. Except for this ...
One thing for sure is that in a stark place like Khan Baba, devoid of any acoustic buffers, the sounds bounce around the room like nothing else. When the burly Pakistani chef gets his metal spatulas out all hell breaks loose in the noise department. Conversations are cut short and ears start to bleed to the deafening tuka-tuka-tuka-tuka rattling your brain. Which variety did I go with? The chef's special (16.9) where you can choose two ingredients from the menu. I went with chicken and liver, a concoction tuka tuk-ed with loads of spices, green chilli, onions and coriander. The end result is crumbly and a little dry but an accompanying chutney helps lube things up a tad.
The tandoor is located in the front kitchen within view of the guests so you can happily watch meats and breads go in for the baking. The portions here are on the generous size, even the lamb karahi (19.9), cooked on the bone in a thick spiced gravy loaded with strips of fresh ginger. Delicious and pretty good value.
As for the bottles of water handed to you on arrival, just say 'no thanks" if you don't want them appearing on your bill. Sneaky buggers.Khan Baba453 King StreetNewtown 204202 8065 0712Mon-Thurs 5pm-12amFri-Sun 5pm-1amwebsite