The expatriate community makes its presence felt.
Pakistan likes to define its relationship with China as one that is “higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey…” Suffice it to say, the Chinese presence in Pakistan is visible.
Not just because of their distinctive features and the flooding of markets with Made-in-China goods but the easy availability of ingredients that Chinese use in their everyday cooking — right down to the greens.
Indeed, come rain or sunshine, Pak-choi and Chinese cabbage are a staple of vegetable shops in areas populated with expatriates from China.
Though details about the strength of the Chinese community in Pakistan is not easily available — one unofficial figure bandied about is in the vicinity of 60,000 — the easy availability of these greens and the number of Chinese restaurants run by their expatriate community is a good indicator of their sizable presence in the country, particularly in Islamabad.
Consequently, truly “authentic” Chinese food — as opposed to the South Asian variant that one has become accustomed to in the sub-continent — is an eating-out option in Pakistan though some of these outlets are cagey about allowing locals in because alcohol is served in what is essentially a prohibition country.