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Pay As You Wish? Smack Me Amadeus!

With a very relaxed atmosphere, Der Wiener Deewan is frequented by university students, locals and travelers on a budget.

On my first trip to Vienna,

I learned about a restaurant

that sounded

too good to be true.

The restaurant, Der Wiener Deewan, serves buffet-style Pakistani food – to my taste buds and olfactory perception – no discernible difference between it and Indian food. At Deewan,  diners eat all they can eat – as much as they wish to eat – and pay whatever they wish to pay. Eat as much as you like, pay what you want. How could this be?

My first reaction was how could any restaurant stay in business with such an off-balance policy? What if I ate a ton and wanted to pay a penny? No problem, said the cashier. It’s as stated: Pay what you wish.

So off I went with Xin, my Viennese host who told me about Deewan. This I had to see for myself. Of course on our way there I asked if the food was of low or poor quality. Was it good? Was it fresh? Was this place some sort of roach-infested dump?

None of the above.

First, the food was pretty good. It was so good I wish I had the stomach to go back for a third helping of rice and potatoes and the curried stew. Even the vegetable medley was cooked to perfection. But with seconds, I was stuffed. I don’t eat much. Never have been able to stuff my face silly at those all-you-can-eat joints while my friends got their money’s worth – and then some.

If you can imagine Indian food, you will have a sense of Pakistani food. And my dear Indian and Pakistani friends, I know you will argue I just committed heresy by suggesting there’s no difference between the two. Again, the only difference to me is in the nationality of the hands preparing it. Needless to say, because Deewan is so cheap, it draws lots of university students who have better things to spend their money on than food 😉 and budget travelers. But it’s a well-known local spot. Most people know it. Well, most people under 30. It caters to the young and hip and hipster. I’ve been to Vienna twice and each time I’ve paid a visit to Deewan. It’s, of course, worth it.

Here is its website with more photos and location information. If you do go, yes, pay as  much as you wish, but don’t be

a total jerk! 😛


pay1 pay2

Categories: posts, travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What You Get Isn’t Always What You See

I am a very picky eater. A difficult thing for a guy who loves to eat in restaurants. An especially difficult thing hopping from strange country to strange country with strange foods. Strange, of course, to me – the visitor. As foreigners we sometimes gag at things others eat. Food can stir up such emotions. Just spend a moment with a vegan.

My palate has grown more adventurous as my travels have increased. I will now try any local weird food, but the weirder the smaller the bite.  Guinea pig (they call it cuy) in Ecuador or Peru? Okay, but just a sliver. I didn’t say my taste buds were wild and carefree 🙂

So today, that taste for food adventure emerged. A hankering for something different for lunch. So out into the wilds of foodland I went in search of some local fare, perhaps some mean cuisine with a twist and a bit of flair. I walked to the center of Calama, Chile, where there’s a concentration of restaurants, looking at menu after menu. Nothing struck me. I made my way back across town in the direction of a particular restaurant that seemed to have some local items. I ordered an Italian cappuccino and asked the server to give me another minute to decide what to eat. Impatient, she gave me a half-minute. I asked for another minute, please. She stepped aside, but hovered. Feeling rushed, I couldn’t decide what to order. None of the items on the menu sungO Mio Babbino Caro to me. When that happens I’ve struck upon a heavenly delight.

[Impatient server moving closer] Okay. I think I will really go wild: how about a Caesar salad? Yep, a Caesar. This is what it looked like:

Caesar salad? Really?

So much for adventure today. But what’s with all this cheese in my Caesar? Under that thick layer of yellow was just lettuce and a few chicken strips. Mustard on the side. Croutons on the perimeter. Okay. You are not in your homeland. Things are done differently elsewhere, I reminded myself. Dig in!

Well, not bad with the spiced up mustard added. And the chicken hidden below the cheese was cooked to perfection. So, too, I gather, was the long strip of hair I found as I went for another bite. This is what I found:

A little bit of pepper, a dash of paprika, a pinch of salt, a strand of hair...

Well, I did have a taste for something exotic, didn’t I? Brunette? Hmmm…yum!

I calmly put down my fork and called over the server nearest to me. My impatient server had gone AWOL. When she reappeared, the other server whispered in her ear – presumably not sweet nothings, but the problem at Table 9. She came over and offered to make me a new salad – yeah, right, I’m going to fall for that fresh plate of salad trick – or order something else. Well, I think I’m done eating, thank you. I’ve suddenly lost my taste for food adventure. Then again, on the way over here I think I saw a McDonald’s.

Categories: asides, posts, Rants and Raves | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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