Karachi to Dubai - Truck Adda
Popular in the UAE, the restaurant brings you some of the most authentic Desi recipes
Aaquib Arif was 22 years' old when a casual call from his friend to open a restaurant in Dubai led to the inception of the highly popular Truck Adda, located in Jumeirah and JLT.
The Karachi-based foodie was already running a successful eatery in his hometown when in 2015, his Dubai-based friend knew what it would mean to open an authentic Pakistani restaurant in a multicultural city like Dubai. After all, Pakistanis are the second largest expat population in the UAE.
Aaquib came on an eight-day visit and immediately locked the spot at Al Hudaiba, Jumeirah. But his concept of Truck Adda was not hurried like the decision of opening one in Dubai in 2015.
Truck Adda at Al Hudaiba was the first branch opened by the enterprising owner in the same year. But Aaquib did not want to open just any restaurant. In his mind, he wanted to also bring the culture of Pakistan to Dubai.
This is today reflected in the food as well as the ambience. Enter JLT branch. The second one was opened in 2017 and is popular among the residents in Dubai Marina and JLT for its truck art. Karachi is popular for its truck arts. Featuring elaborate floral patterns and calligraphy, the art form has taken over the world by a storm. Today, truck arts are synonymous with the culture of Pakistan.
Aaquib personally has overseen the works at both the restaurants, taking note from passersby and customers.
Another cultural find at Truck Adda is the seating at the restaurant. Takht, or wooden sofa form of seating, was first introduced in Dubai at the Al Hudaiba branch and still is the only restaurant that offers takht seating, 16 in all. "I was hesitant initially but today the takht is very popular among the residents in Jumeirah."
Unique selling point
On the highly popular menu, you will find charga, bun kebab, charsi karahi, dhaga kebab, malai boti and handis. Pakola, doodh tea - made of milk only - and jaggery tea that is highly in demand, are some of the other in demand items listed.
For many, the familiarity with food and culture will make them come over and over to Truck Adda, Aaquib says, adding that when the restaurant started and was made popular by the word of mouth, it was sought-after by families who waited in the queue for hours.
Appreciating this gesture, he adds: "We do not compromise on quality, we get our food spices from Pakistan. I am a foodie myself and unless I get the taste right, I do not introduce a dish on the menu."
Truck Adda was also the first to serve karahi in a karahi, which was then followed by other restaurants in Dubai.
Commenting on Dubai's culinary scene, Aaquib says that because there is so much competition, the food is good. It's a healthy competition. "It's the most multicultural and diverse city in the world."
Aaquib attributes the taste of South Asian food as being the top reason for the popularity of Pakistani food across the world. "A tourist from Pakistan or India will look for his food of taste after a few days in a foreign land. Such is our taste. So we will never go out of fashion."
Truck Adda attracts European and Emirati customers as well, besides South Asians.
New on the menu
The brand revamps its menu every year. "Every year we do a survey of what is popular and what can we change. Our latest addition is the dhaga kebab, the demand for which was going on for two years by our customers. I wanted to bring it on the menu a year ago but were not getting the taste and the technique right. We worked on it for almost a year and now it's available on the menu. We have a chef especially from Pakistan for that recipe. " During winters, you will see seafood on the menu - all tailor-made to the tastebuds, asserts Aaquib.
"We take the customers where they want to go," Aaquib quips. Adding to this, he also reveals that nothing is premade at the restaurant. "We follow the zero-waste concept; therefore it takes us longer to serve the food. We serve based on the taste of the customers. We don't compromise."
Truck Adda's concept of origin is also popularizing the Pakistani street food concept in Dubai. Hence you will find a lot of demand for bun kebab and paratha chai, synonymous with the socialising culture in the county.
The new-gen promotion
Millenial Aaquib also attributes his success to social media. He said that online reviews and feedback has helped him better the restaurant. "A lot of celebrities and bloggers have promoted us on social media without us asking for it. This is our efforts at Truck Adda talking to everyone."
On its way TO DUBAI
Aaquib is now planning to open the third edition of Truck Adda at Al Hudaiba again. The restaurant will also feature a new café - W11. The name is borrowed from the famed bus route in Karachi that is an iconic colourful journey. Aaquib revelled in the fact that the restaurant-café will be the first Pakistani restaurant in Dubai to offer shisha with Truck Adda's food. W11 will reflect the colour and culture of truck art in the café. The best part, according to Aaquib, is that the restaurant is licensed to run 24 hours. It has outdoor and indoor seating and will be the biggest of the Truck Adda franchisee.
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