Gaia which is a Greek word for ‘earth’ has become synonymous with ‘expensive’. But it’s funny how it remains to be the most-dined at fine-dining restaurant in Lahore regardless. I was in Islamabad a few weeks ago and the locals there were planning their trip to Lahore especially for Gaia as they had heard so much about it even in the capital. Now these are people who are on mostly on limited fixed pocket money or their salaries are not that lavish, but still they want to take time out and visit the place out of curiosity. This is because, Gaia has something for everyone and is rumoured only to be overtly pricey.“Gaia has a certain clientele that explains its prices but having said that, the presentation and the taste coupled with the freshness and uniqueness of the ingredients compensates for the heavy prices. You will not get anything like this from anywhere else,” Gaia Operations Director Asim Malik, said while talking exclusively to Daily Times. “With the basement, ground and the first floor covered, the ambience changes on every storey and that’s the beauty of Gaia,” Asim Malik tells me.Now, we know about how the recent shuffling of menus with a sudden change of management with Gaia, but one thing that remained constant was its quality over which Malik says, “there’s no compromise”. With the basement, ground and the first floor covered, the ambience changes on every storey and that’s the beauty of the place — Asim MalikMalik enjoys a food-rich background with the technicalities and precision of food on his finger tips. He’s a consultant, a chef, a socialite and a well-experienced person in culinary arts. And with Gaia, he has remained consistent in taking it new heights.I tried out the place only but recently once again and here’s what I think. The top selling items of Gaia remains its ever appetising Gaia Maki, priced at Rs 1,700. It’s sushi prepared with prawn tempura, creamy spicy sauce, salmon and tobiko. The sushi simply dissolves in your mouth without you having to make an effort to chew it. No one can do tofu better than Gaia. It’s called Teriyaki Glazed Tofu and is priced at Rs 1,100. It’s basically fried tofu with teriyaki glaze, served with garlic chips, chives and Thai red chilli. Spicy Beef with Sesame is another dish by Gaia that will make you keep going to the restaurant. It’s priced at Rs 950. It’s fried crispy beef, served with capsicum, sesame seeds, spicy sauce and rice. The flavour is tangy and the sauce will make you lick your fingers. Don’t at any cost leave Gaia without indulging in their five-piece Prawn Tempura. The platter is priced at Rs 1,800. The prawns are crispy, light golden in colour and extremely delicious. There’s no stink and they’re perfectly cooked. For drinks, do try their Strawberry Cooler, that I have at least twice. It’s priced at Rs 375 and consists of strawberry club juice, lime juice, strawberries and soda. The Gaia Dark Chocolate Torte, Crème Brulee and Matcha Green Tea & Banana Cake are some desserts which you’ll not find anywhere in Pakistan at least. I mean you might, but they would taste the way they do at Gaia. Just writing about it makes me salivate. The desserts are priced at Rs 750, Rs 575 and Rs 725 respectively. I will save their details as I want you to go and try these yourselves and find out what sets these desserts apart from the rest.The interior of the place is another aspect that compliments the neat and clean food on offer. People coming in fall in love with the art work, the lush furnishings and the mocktail bar.The restaurant has remained consistent in terms of maintaining its quality and repute.Published in Daily Times, February 20th 2019.