Restaurants in Dhaka – Part Five

80 down… here are 61-80. Read roundup part one, part two, part three, and part four to read about the previous 60 eateries I’ve tried in Dhaka. Other than word of mouth (!), read about where I find the restaurants to try. I also scout for new places when I’m out and about and I welcome recommendations.

The lunch buffet at Istanbul is only 1000 taka.
The lunch buffet at Istanbul is only 1000 taka.

Orange and a Half cafe (7/13): New place! Cafe with coffee, shakes, desserts, and sandwiches. Located in Tejgaon, the industrial zone. The cafe is hip looking and located in the Shanta Western building. The owners want a “western” level place. Let’s see if they can reach it. For not, it’s coffee is okay, some of the sandwiches and cakes are okay… let’s see how they do once they have been open for a while. Their goal is to match Gloria Jean’s.

Ideas Manzil (11/13): International guest house with private set menus – Bangladeshi, Indian, Thai, European, and seafood. All the food was fresh. The antique shopping was also fun. Unique location much like a secret garden in Dhaka. You must contact them ahead of time to arrange the menu. Owned by an expat.

Mallika Snacks (8/13): Phoughka. It’s a local place and it’s more a snack place. Best phoughka in the Gulshan area. Very local place.

KFChicken (9/13) on Road 13: Batter fried chicken. The best fried chicken in Dhaka.

Sakura Golden Rice (5/13) near road 118: Chinese/Japanese/Bangladeshi. Reopened and still mediocre watered down food.

Istanbul (12/13): Turkish. Road 118. You can’t even tell you’re in Dhaka. It’s a massive multi-world restaurant with wood fire oven, Las Vegas painted sky ceiling, and a two level castle for children. They have a creamery on location and sell fresh cheese and bread. Soon will have a level with hookah/nargile/water pipe.

Topkapi (6/13): Buffet. Mostly Bangladeshi and Thai food. The papaya salad was not bad and it was spicy!

Emerald Thai (8/13): Thai. Located in Uttara near the flagship Arong store but very hard to find… interior decor is elegant but the food is not Thai spicy. Made for the Bangladeshi palate.

New Cathay (10/13): Chinese. This new location in Banani, on Road 11, is modern looking but the food and the waiters are as good as they have been for 25 years.

Gloria Jean’s (7/13): Cafe with food. Nice enough atmosphere inside and a place to hang out and grab a light bite to eat. Wi-fi and perky staff seem to be some of the reasons there’s hype about this place. I’m not really into it but then I don’t need a cafe to work from.

Nagasaki (7/13): Japanese. This place is like stepping back in time 50 years… there are holes under the tables so that you sit Japanese style but don’t have to sit on the floor if you are out of practice. Soggy rice. Not fresh sashimi. Located out in Uttara.

Just Juice (4/13): Juice and sandwiches. Has a few seats out in front and is otherwise a very small shop.

Attin (9/13): Arabic. Located on Road 27 in Gulshan, this is a hipster sort of place with a rustic loft feel. The middle eastern appetizers are not bad and the waiters are talkative.

Cuppa Coffee Cafe (7/13): Continental/Bangla-Asian. Located with a great view of Gulshan II circle, the people watching is the best thing about this place. Usual hit or miss with dishes covered in mystery white “special sauce” or red ketchup chili.

Baristo (8/13) – Road 6, Banani: Cafe/Italian/Smokers Lounge/Lounge. Opened in February 2013. Have the coffee while sitting in a car… this is a large place suited for large groups. Will soon have hookah/nargile/water pipe.

American Burger (7/13) – Road 11, Banani: Burgers and fries. Okay fries. Burger was okay. Small, take out sort of place with three tables.

Rush Tex Mex (7/13) – Road 6, Banani: Burgers and fries. The advertised Mexican dishes were mysteriously not available… small place with two booths. Fries were okay.

Spicy Restaurant (4/13) on Kemal Attaturk: Opened March 15, 2013. Usual burgers, kababs, banglese (bangla/chinese) stuff. Also has Wifi, I think. Has four booths (or half of the table is booth and the other side is chairs) and a table for six.

Atrium (7/13): Chinesey Bangla food. Some Indian. The lunch buffet for under 600 taka is okay. The exterior Japanesey garden and tables could be nice if it weren’t right on one of the busiest roads in the area.

Quesadilla (5/13); The quesadilla was actually okay. Not greasy and edible. The “Mexican pizza” was like a basic frozen pizza with some charred crumbled beefish added plus a few loops of green pepper. The nachos were a plate of fried wonton skins covered in brown beans, cheese, and decorated with swirls of “mexican” sauce — a slightly sweet pink sauce. The garlic bread with melted cheese was so tasteless as to be useless.

Istanbul restaurant bakes their own bread including this round bread called a simit.
Istanbul restaurant bakes their own bread including this round bread called a simit.

I’m encouraged by the emergence of new places. I’ll blog another time about the best places where I go more than once. Go out and explore!

Deep and Superficial in Cambodia

One of the many visual delights of Angkor Wat.
One of the many visual delights of Angkor Wat.

Cambodia may well be the next Asian tiger with its combination of world heritage sites, tragic history, burgeoning business recovery (everything in dollars and riel), and hands on service industry. I recommend visiting the killing fields, not so much for the site itself (there are many all over Cambodia) but because the audio tour is well informed and one of the most humane. The narrator makes you aware of the past plus kindly asks you to contemplate humanity and how to be humane to it.

The depressions of the killing the fields with the stupa in the distance.
The depressions of the killing the fields with the stupa in the distance.

Then go to Angkor Wat and think about the wonders of what people can build in the jungle. The place is worth seeing at dawn or sunset. It will be hot at almost anytime you visit. It costs $20 to get in and that’s not bad for a world heritage site.

Stir fried instant noodles for $1. These stalls move all over town. A meal for a buck!
Stir fried instant noodles for $1. These stalls move all over town. A meal for a buck!

The town of Siem Reap (Siam Conquered) is very touristy but if that’s what you want, then go for it! There are still enjoyable things to be had. The dollar massages are still done well, the fruit with chili salt is still refreshing, noodles for a dollar (seems like it all costs a buck) are still greasy and yummy, the shopping still good (though not as cheap as to be dirt cheap). Surprisingly the prices are not as low as you might expect. A pair of “hammer pants” or ali baba pants cost $7! (I bargained down to $4). It is not expensive but not the prices expected. Everything is quoted in U.S. dollars but the locals can give you change in both dollars and riel, or a combination of both.

The night market in Siem Reap. Very geared for tourists.
The night market in Siem Reap. Very geared for tourists.

The Khmer people are graceful, sweet, and affectionate. Visit Cambodia for the people.

This little girl hacked away happily at this coconut with her machete.
This little girl hacked away happily at this coconut with her machete.

Framing Block Prints in Bangladesh

A block framed with a background of fabric printed with the block in the frame.
A block framed with a background of fabric printed with the block in the frame.

For the creative person, Bangladesh is a wonderland of fabrics and possibilities. Much to the amazement of some of my Bangladeshi friends, some of us buy the wood blocks to use as artwork. I will have more of these made to give away as gifts in the future.

A framed box with four block prints on sale at Cezanne Gallery in the UAE Mall in Gulshan.
A framed box with four block prints on sale at Cezanne Gallery in the UAE Mall in Gulshan.

Fishing On Land in Male, Maldives

Yellow fin tuna in the Maldives.
Yellow fin tuna in the Maldives.

I didn’t go fishing in the Maldives but I did go to the fish market in the capital, Male. It was not a very large market but it was located on the wharf and the trade was brisk. Yellow fin tuna is a popular fish in the Maldives. Can you imagine swimming with a school of these fish?

Tuna being hoisted up on to the second floor.
Tuna being hoisted up on to the second floor.

Touched By A Manta Ray

True blue color therapy in the Maldives.
True blue color therapy in the Maldives.

I have never been into sand or sun or beaches but visiting the Maldives changed my mind. It seemed as if the water was not as salty as in other tropical places. But, maybe the fact that I was touched by a giant manta ray, has influenced my opinion. We paid the $48 for an outing to swim with giant manta rays, sea turtles, and fish. When we got into the water, the giant rays swam around us like a flock of kites gliding around our amateurish flailing limbs. I assumed that this was a popular feeding ground that the guides knew about and I also assumed that seeing the rays was a guarantee. Apparently it is not. So I feel even luckier. I am fairly sure that I was touched because I had stopped flailing around and was simply floating away on my back, totally ignoring the manta rays. Once I had been patted on the back by the ray, it had all my attention!

A colorful fish in the shallows.
A colorful fish in the shallows.

Homesick for Sri Lankan Egg Hopper

Egg hopper for breakfast.
Egg hopper for breakfast.

The moment I put the first bite of the Sri Lankan egg hopper in my mouth, I understood with my heart why this was a dish that would make me severely homesick. The “hopper” is a simple crepe served with chutney and pickle… the egg hopper is made by cooking an egg in the base of the mini-wok hopper pan. The pickle or sauce is more like a salsa, chopped up coconut and herbs…

Typical "pickle" or sauce to go with any dish.
Typical “pickle” or sauce to go with any dish.

Garment Sale Dhaka

A simple sign on a building are the only indication of what lies within.
A simple sign on a building are the only indication of what lies within.

This is not for the faint of heart — garment sale shopping… One of the things to do in Dhaka is to shop for good bargains at a “garment sale.” A garment sale is hosted by one of the garment producers through a charity. For example, H&M donates “seconds” and other rejected garments which are then sold with the proceeds benefiting a charity.  Basically, word gets out (via Facebook etc.) that a garment sale is happening at a certain time and place. People arrive up to an hour early to line up. Once the doors are open, people rush in and the melee commences. People are tightly packed crowd and they grab whatever they can sometimes out of your hands. The experienced have a bag and shove anything into it. Then they sort out and inspect what they want in a corner. The tables are labeled with “shirts” and so on but the piles are emptied within 30 minutes. Then folks toss back their rejects. Why join this insanity? Other than the fun of watching it? The clothes are 150 Taka per piece (about $1.90) so you can find a nice sweater or pair of jeans for under two bucks.

The frenzy of the garment sale.
The frenzy of the garment sale.