Aktar Islam talks to Tandoori

Posted on Movers and Shakers Sep 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
Aktar Islam talks to Tandoori

Aktar Islam, who co-owns Lasan and Lasan Eatery with his business partner Jabbar Khan, talks to Tandoori.


What made you want to go into the restaurant business?

I’m a third generation restaurateur, so you could say it’s in my blood. I’ve always had a major fascination with food, I still remember collecting the groceries with my mother, taking the produce home and creating wonderful food that everyone enjoyed.

Lasan has proved to be a great success.

 

What has been the most satisfying aspect of having your own restaurant?

Like most individuals in our trade, they’re have been times when we said “why do we put ourselves through this?” It was our passion and desire to succeed in creating a restaurant that is admired and respected by not only our customers or critics, but by all of our peers in the trade. For me it is the reputation that we’ve earned as serious contenders in a very competitive market that I find most gratifying.

 

What has been the most challenging and difficult aspect?

The hardest part for our business was the first two years. We had to educate the diners of Birmingham by having set up in the heart of “Balti Land” and not serve baltis. We concentrated on non mainstream offering from the Indian subcontinent with a modern and innovative approach, which didn’t always fit in to the public perception of Indian food.?

 

How do you keep the cooking at Lasan constantly evolving and innovative for the public?

Indian culture and food is not only timeless, but also amazingly diverse. At Lasan, we indulge in our culinary history, which is also where we draw our inspiration. We also emphasise on making the dishes as healthy as possible without compromising on flavour or authenticity.

 

Has your second restaurant Lasan Eatery proved to be the success you’d hoped it would be?

The Eatery is an amazing success. It’s our interpretation of a no frills Lasan, not unlike the roadside Dhaba’s dotted across India.  People love the fact that it’s so informal.

 

Other than eating Indian food, which is your favourite cuisine and why?

If it’s not Indian then it’s got to be Mediterranean cuisine. I enjoy the use of fresh produce, to create clean unadulterated flavours where emphasis is given to promote the natural flavours of the ingredients.

 

Outside of co-owning and running a restaurant, what are your interests and hobbies?

Like any red blooded western male I have a keen interest in super cars, I guess we’ll always have to pander to that little boy in us.  My main interest apart from food and cars are people, I find mankind fascinating

 

Who would be your ideal dinner guests at Lasan and why?

I’d love to sit down and enjoy dinner at Lasan with my grandfather who sadly passed away a few years ago. As a restaurateur and epicure his opinion and approval would have meant a lot to me.


What advice would you give to any budding restaurateur?

Over the last few years we’ve seen a string of restaurants popping up, claiming to be new and to be fresh and with clean interiors and waiters donning black shirts, which is fantastic but we’re forgetting about the food. Let us remember that nothing beats good honest food so go back to the basics and start cooking food as our mothers did and do at home!

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