FULLERTON, Calif. — Running on Empty returns with a visit to Fullerton, California to check out the new restaurant, Khan Saab.
Chef Imran Ali Mookhi opened the Pakistani-Indian restaurant right before the pandemic, and had to navigate the changing regulations.
Pakistani cuisine is often seen as street food, but Chef Ali wanted to bring sophistication to the dish through plating. He decided it was time to display street food in an elevated way at Khan Saab.
Chef Ali actually never spent time in the kitchen while growing up in Pakistan. He didn’t begin cooking until he moved to the United States at age 17. From there, he quickly moved up the ladder working in Michelin-star restaurants and serving Pakistani Indian cuisine.
“Indian food is more towards vegetarian, and Pakistani food is more meat. When you get meat involved in our cooking, it becomes rich and spicier," he said.
Chef Ali decided to tap into his Pakistani roots at his new spot Khan Saab, showcasing high-end meats and the multitude of spices that enter every dish with passion in the plating.
“The major part we play here is our plating and presentation of the food. It’s pretty fun. We want people to get engaged with food,” said Chef Ali.
Just a month after opening, Khan Saab closed due to the pandemic. They slowly found their footing with delivery and takeout, then later added outdoor dining - something Chef Ali never expected to encounter.
Now that Orange County allows indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, Chef Ali hopes they will return to business as usual with their 100 percent halal menu, meaning the meat is blessed, and alcohol-free bar to cater to the Muslim religion.
“Pakistani food [has] always been in the background, and I think it’s time for Pakistani food to be elevated being in a fine dining experience,” said Chef Ali.
One playfully plated dish is the Sloppy Kahn, a Pakistani take on the Sloppy Joe made with wagyu beef on Indian bread with gen power spices, and topped with Chile and onion. This is a dish seen in street carts around Pakistan, but Chef Ali took it to the next level, even serving it in a cart.
“When you go back to street food in India and Pakistan, you will see this cart in an actual live station,” said Chef Ali.
Khan Saab is open for takeout, delivery, indoor, and outdoor dining.
Try the flavors of Pakistan in Fullerton at Khan Saab, located at 229 E Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, CA 92832.