Pakistani restaurant gains popularity in Harbin, China

Pakistani restaurant Man-O-Salwa

Beijing ,November 03, 2023 : Nestled in an inconspicuous street in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Pakistani restaurant Man-O-Salwa has gained popularity despite its obscured location.

The restaurant, while not particularly spacious, boasts a cozy and immaculately maintained dining area. It has achieved an impressive rating of 4.5/5 on China’s popular customer review app, Dazhongdianping.

“This is the only Pakistani restaurant in Harbin,” said the restaurant’s Manager Muhammad Usama in fluent Chinese, as he introduced the dishes to the dinners. “I recommend you try the curry chicken and traditional milk tea.” The restaurant was established in 2019 by its founder, Muhammad Atif, shortly after he graduated with a doctorate degree from a university in Harbin.

“After graduation, I decided to stay in China. I wanted to open a restaurant to introduce authentic Pakistani taste to Chinese friends,” Atif said. He recruited chefs and a manager from Pakistan, including Usama, who had previously served as a chef at a five-star hotel in Pakistan. Since its opening, the restaurant has faced challenging times, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Atif and Usama never considered shuttering their business. Instead, they took proactive steps, such as showcasing their dishes and gathering customer feedback on short video platforms, to promote both Pakistani cuisine and the restaurant. “In the past few years, I have rarely visited my hometown. I have stayed in Harbin, even when there were few customers,” Usama told Xinhua. He noted that the restaurant was committed to delivering an authentic Pakistani flavor.

Not only do they employ chefs from Pakistan, but a majority of their ingredients are also imported directly from Pakistan. Currently, the restaurant has four Pakistani employees working in the kitchen. According to the restaurant management, the restaurant has gained immense online popularity, with all tables being fully booked during the weekends. The people from neighboring cities around Harbin visit the restaurant, and they often tell Usama that they’ve specifically come to Harbin to experience Pakistani cuisine. “I have never tasted Pakistani food and wanted to give it a try. The taste here is good and special,” said Harbin resident Ai Mingzhe, adding that dining in the restaurant piqued his interest to learn more about Pakistan

With the restaurant’s business growing increasingly bustling, Atif is busy working on expanding the dining area and making preparations to open another branch in the port city of Ningbo in east China’s Zhejiang Province. “I love China, and I will continue to do business here, using the power of food to build a bridge for exchange between China and Pakistan,” Atif said.

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