A brief history of Karachi’s love affair with burgers By Fahhd Husain Published: May 22, 2015 If Karachi was Batman’s Gotham, he would say a Mr Burger with cheese or Chips’ roast beef may not be the burger that Karachi wants, but the one it needs. Armed with a hundred bucks and an appetite to match, a bunch of school kids still in uniform converge on their favourite burger joint onKarachi’s Boat Basin. Even before walking in, a distinct aroma fills their nostrils; the perfect way to kick off the weekend on a hot Thursday afternoon. After placing their order, they wait on remarkably uncomfortable chairs and pass time by discussing the classroom cutie. Soon, food arrives. Drenched wrappers are torn off and the first bite sends them on a short trip to burger heaven. As long as Karachiites from my generation can remember, there have been burgers — not the dwellers on the supposed ‘right’ side of the bridge, but the more traditional beef patty between two buns. Chicken in similar form can be called a sandwich at best so let’s not even bother. Back in the early 90s, three of the best burgers in town could be found adjacently—Mr Burger, Chips and Amin’s Little American restaurant. Two of those establishments, though struggling, are still running while the lure of the United States was too much for the ‘Little American’ in Amin to resist. At least that’s what rumours suggested at the time when the charming little place closed its doors forever. Lesser known (and hugely underrated) was Mr Big Mac in Mohammad Ali Society. At the risk of committing blasphemy, a few dared to tell their friends it was a juicier, fresher and tastier Mr Burger — which it actually was. Photo: Mr Burger Facebook page However, there was nothing quite like sinking one’s teeth into a Mr Big with cheese or a roast beef burger from Chips. The former would send a burst of flavours and juices shooting into all corners of one’s palate, while the latter’s succulent diced beef was unique to Karachi—and will remain for all time to come. Fast forward a couple of decades, the burgerscape of Karachi is littered with numerous establishments, all claiming to be king. And then there’s Burger King itself which is one of the latest foreign chains to hit the city’s fast food scene. When McDonalds opened its doors to Karachi in the late 90s, foreign franchises were a novelty and hundreds stood in endless queues to get their first bite of a Big Mac—and it did not disappoint. Photo: Burger King Facebook page It seemed the writing was on the wall. The likes of Mr Burger and Chips would find it difficult to compete with huge corporations and their even bigger ambitions. For a time, that was exactly the case. The quarter pounders of McDonalds and zingers of KFC popped up in every nook and cranny of the city. A new generation was raised on chicken nuggets as Mr Burger just didn’t cut it for their parents.