I’ve never been to Pakistani picnic, but if it’s anything like BK Jani, expect me to be crashing some backyard family gatherings whenever I smell some Chicken Tikka. Located at 276 Knickerbocker between Suydam and Willoughby, BK Jani is Bushwick’s first casual-dining Pakistani joint, with picnic tables set in front of an open kitchen, from which glorious grilled meats emerge steaming on paper plates under a blanket of traditional Pakistani bread.
There’s a refrigerator magnet wall to construct silly or psuedo-philosophical statements and plenty of wall canvas for local artists to paint each month. The decor changes at whim and always because someone in the hood has a good idea for a mural and brings the idea to Sibte, the owner.
His chef, Tara Boyle, is the perfect mirror for Sibte’s social hosting philosophy. She’s got the cloud-breaking smile and warm demeanor of a woman that loves to feed her friends and family. They’re the kind of people that will insist you eat more when you’re struggling to find room for the last delicious course you just wolfed down. The kind of people you’re likely to indulge because they’re just so damn nice to be around. Hospitality is the single most defining word I can use to describe the vibe here.
It’s that easy. In fact the whole place has the air of “easy”, laid back and almost rec room-ish. To hear Sibte tell it, “Pakistani culture is about sharing food. Conversations are always accompanied by a meal. Eating socially is a cornerstone of interaction in Pakistan.”
On the menu you’ll find melt-in-your mouth skirt steak sliders, topped with an authentic Lahore mint chutney. Lamb chops like a buttery, savory lollipop and grilled chicken, rubbed with herbs and spices. How on earth they keep a chicken breast that succulent is beyond me.
“We talked about adding pastries but decided to go with fresh grilled fruits as dessert. Very unique, healthy and delicious,” says Boyle. Don’t miss the grilled pineapple slices dusted with cinnamon.
Continuing along his philosophy of good food and hospitality, Sibte adds, “BK Jani is the place that will notice you personally and will hold your patronage as an act of friendship. We want to be the place where you don’t even think to take out your smartphone and have to browse social media through a meal. We want to engage people in real-time and make it an oasis from the normal rhythms of our hand-held touchscreen device-laden, introverted lives. We want to protect the quality of your everyday connections and put out of your mind the quantity of connections afforded by technology.”
As for the name of the restaurant, Sibte explains: “The BK in BK Jani is Brooklyn of course. Jani – Jan means life. Jani is analogous to “honey” etc. It’s a term of endearment. It’s been used colloquially as a sweet word, but it’s popularly used with a raunchy connotation. Your “jani” brings you comfort, love and nostalgia. It’s a big spicy warm cushion.”
“A Pakistani picnic is the vibe. We wanted to push the scene of a backyard grill party. I cook out in my backyard ALL Summer-long. We wanted to make a place you’d feel great afterwards. Happy full.”
BK Jani is located at 276 Knickerbocker Ave. (917) 346-2353. Closed on Mondays. Open until 10:30 pm.