RAWALPINDI (AFP) – Ali Abbas, 27, sits proudly for a photograph on a mock-up of the Iron Throne.
A diehard Pakistani Game of Thrones fan, he says it is a “treat” to visit the cafe inspired by the hit American television series in the suburbs of Islamabad.
The restaurant, aptly named King’s Landing, was launched in January by four college friends who were surprised to see fans coming in with their families, despite the sometimes very violent and explicit nature of the series.
Abbas, on holiday from eastern Lahore, is surrounded by heraldic banners, dragon eggs and a menu that features homages such as ‘Cersei’s Vanilla Poison’ – a toast to the evil sovereign of Westeros.
Meanwhile in a tavern-like basement, a screen displays gory, blood-stained combat scenes and autopsies.
Abbas says he is thrilled to see it all “with my own eyes”.
“I’m here on vacation so when I came to know about this cafe, so I thought that I should visit it because I’ve been following the show since the very start … it’s a great experience,” he said.
The fantasy medieval saga produced by US cable network HBO tells the struggle of several families to conquer the “Iron Throne”.
It has more Emmy Awards than any narrative show in history and has become a worldwide success, including a massive fan base among English-speaking Pakistanis.
“Game of Thrones is very big here,” said another patron, Haseeb Mahmood, 25.
“When you come here to the cafe, you feel like you’re a character of the show.
“They have the Iron Throne, when you sit on it you feel like the king. When you see these dragon eggs, you feel like you’re part of the show and it’s something that’s very unique and very interesting.”
The show, he says, “feels so real… That’s one thing I love”.
The explicit and violent nature of the series has also not prevented customers from watching episodes in the cafe – but with some precautions in the conservative Muslim country, admits one of the owners, Arsalan Sajid.
He says they edit some scenes to make it appropriate for all age groups.
“Initially the response was great,” he adds, though he admits that after two or three months enthusiasm died down somewhat.
Luckily, however, the highly-anticipated finale of Season 7 will air tonight – at which point he expects his tiny cafe, which only seats around a dozen people, to be besieged with customers once more.