Located in the heart of Hackney, Empress Market is a newly opened pop-up restaurant run by two friends; Numra and Sara who have combined authentic Pakistani cuisine with Louisiana cocktails. Numra, who has been running her Pakistani street food stall and supper club ‘Bun Kabab’ for three years, has designed a delicious menu that compliments Sara’s boozy cocktails created off the back of a trip to New Orleans. Sara’s former pop-up alcoholic slushy bar ‘Sister Slush’ proved to be very popular and brought together with Numra’s passion for Karachi street food it’s a recipe for success!
We were invited to their press night to try out their menu and cocktails. We were greeted with a yummy blood orange prosecco and to start we had Baingan ka Bhurta, a smoked aubergine cooked in tomato and yoghurt which was full of flavour.
Moving on to the Beef Nihari, a slow cooked beef stew, and the Tandoori Tawa Murghi, a tandoori slow cooked chicken – both the meats were really tender and as they are slow cooked the flavours were fantastic.
We then tried the Teen Daal Bun Kabab, a brioche bun filled with tasty slow cooked lentils, and the Phul Gobi Sabzi which was spiced cauliflower.
My absolute favourite was the Chanaa Alloo (above) which is spicy chickpea and potatoes. This is normally on their brunch menu and is packed full of flavour!To finish off we were treated to a delicious kulfi (condensed milk ice cream) and some chai tea to wash it all down.
The cocktails we had alongside the meal were delicious! We tried The Empress: Southern Comfort, Aperol, Peychaud’s, Regans’ Orange Bitters No.6, Absinthe Mist. And the Vodka Spiced Chai: Chai infused vodka, Fresh lemon juice, Angostura Bitters, Regan’s Orange Bitters No.6. The Vodka Spiced Chai was our favourite, the chai wasn’t overpowering at all it had just the perfect amount of spice coming through the vodka to compliment the other flavours in the cocktail.
On Sundays you can experience a Pakistani brunch with an array of spicy and tasty dishes ranging from the Desi omelette, a spiced omelette with onion and tomato, to the Chicken Kalaiji which is spicy chicken liver cooked in tomato and onions. The brunch prices range from £7 to £9 and for £10 you can choose to go bottomless, with unlimited chai, toast or tipples. In the week, their lunch menu serves up tasty bun kebabs and other small dishes. In the evenings the menu serves a wonderful variety of small Pakistani dishes ranging from £3 to £8.
The combination of flavours at Empress Market are just amazing and you can feel the passion of the girls shining through in their food and drinks. They also have a passion for hosting events about issues that matter to them, you can find out more about this on their website www.empressmarket.co.uk. So go and try them out next time you’re in Hackey, I promise you won’t be disappointed!