French expat Jacky is like a modern day Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and his restaurant Kabul Kitchen is the most popular place in town, somewhere foreigners, army personal, journalists, and tourists can let loose and relax - but it’s not exactly your typical neighbourhood haunt.
It has booze, but it’ll cost you
Afghanistan - like many Muslim countries - is dry. Since the fall of the Taliban, bars like Kabul Kitchen have opened up, catering to ex-pats and foreign tourists but Afghan citizens are strictly forbidden from consuming alcohol and licensed venues risk being shut down if they are caught serving them. Even in these places the procuring of booze is tricky. The black market - and trading in bribes - are usually your best options.
BYO Firearm? Not in this joint
You know how annoying it is when you go up the road for a spaghetti bolognaise and you have to check your AK47 in with your coat? No? That’s cos you don’t live in Afghanistan, where everyone carries a gun and everyone frequents the Kabul Kitchen - where guns must be left at the door.
You can dine poolside but you might get arrested for wearing your bathing suit
Kabul Kitchen has one of the few pools in town, which is a huge drawcard for a city that swelters in the heat of summer… That’s if the pool doesn’t get drained by the modesty police who can’t handle the idea of a lady in a bikini.
A bad yelp review isn’t your biggest worry…
Getting blown up is. In Afghanistan, restaurants for foreigners that serve alcohol have been regular targets for Taliban militants and Islamic fundamentalists. Despite the country’s (relative) stability these days, dozens of people have been arrested, taken hostage and even killed in the last few years at popular hotels and resorts frequented by foreigners and tourists.
Mood lighting isn’t necessarily an interior design choice
There’s nothing that says “mood lighting” quite like candlelight. In fact, some restaurants like this one in Norway make a lack of electricity part of their charm. There’s no doubt people look sexier, thinner and more attractive in low light… but in Kabul, the lack of light isn’t an aesthetic choice… it’s because the bloody power won’t stay on.
Series 1 of Kabul Kitchen is available on SBS On Demand.
Watch the first episode right here: