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!

One Year of Madventures.me – Still Mad for Food and Adventure

Madventures.me is one year old. One year ago, I started this blog in preparation for new adventures in food and travel. One year of great food and travel in Amman, Copenhagen, Dhaka, Doha, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Krabi, Luang Prabang, Mumbai, New Delhi, New England, Singapore, and many more.

I started this blog to share some of my adventures with family and friends. As I’ve blogged, my blog has evolved into a source for providing information on restaurants in Dhaka, shopping, and how much one can do in Bangladesh. As a blogger, I’ve been enormously happy when readers from all over the world visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by… from almost the entire world:

Map of visitors to madventures.me in the first 11 months.

As my readership expands beyond people I know, I’m curious about what leads readers to my blog. So here are the top search terms people have searched for in the past year:

Top search terms on madventures.me.

The Art of Flirty Waiters

One of many charming waiters…

A truly talented waiter will bring not only food and drink to your table, but entertainment to your dining experience. Many of the elements of waiting tables is are the same as in acting — timing, pretend, and audience. A good flirt has these skills too. Not sleazy; just piquant. Jordan was filled with talented waiters.

My exchange with Khalil in Jordan was typical:

Khalil (stops clearing the table and looks deeply into my eyes): Wow, your eyes, they are a special color?

Me (I nod): Yes. You have to get up close to notice.

Khalil: Are you married?

Me: Not yet.

Khalil: Your husband will be a lucky man.

Me: Why?

Khalil: Because he will wake up to your eyes every morning.

Bearing fruit…

Khalil continued throughout the meal. The skills comes in delivering these lines without making it sound too cheesy. He’s used these lines for twenty years and he’s perfected his pitch and his timing. Like a perfect tango. I’ll engage. I’m happy to hone my repartee.

Talking smooth…
Serving sweets…

I was tired that night or I would have been much faster and funnier in my response… guess I need more practice. Oh shucks.

With smoke and mirrors…

Famous Falafel at Hashim’s in Jordan

Up close and personal with the roasted eggplant dip.

Quite by accident, we made it to the world famous Hashim’s. All that it’s cracked up to be. Cheap, atmospheric (in an alley between buildings and mysterious characters), and delicious! The total meal of falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, fries, fresh pita, and labneh (yogurt dip) for four people cost $10… so we made one person treat us all. She insisted! Thanks!

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What’s My Name in Arabic?

The front of the Al-Afghani shop in Mecca Mall.

One of the things to buy in Amman is your name in Arabic script as a pendant for a necklace. It takes a week to get done so plan your visit accordingly. There are jewelsmiths who can make it but there is also a place in Mecca Mall. Al-Afghani is a souvenir shop in Mecca Mall. The staff will help you with your name and a week later, you pick up your pendant. Beautiful.

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Land of Milk and Honey

Hummus with lamb and pine nuts. Warm flatbread.

The food in Jordan made me weak at the knees. Never has lemon juice with mint been so seductive or ground chick peas (garbanzo) been so smooth. El-Sufra on Al-Rainbow Street combines a sunken roman outdoor dining area replete with fountain and palm trees with indoor cafe and upper level with views of the lights of Amman. The nights in August were cool and perfect for sitting outside, chatting with friends, smoking a hubbly-bubbly or playing cards. Something for everyone.

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A game of cards.
Fattoush salad. Pita bread croutons and purslane…

The Souk on Al-Rainbow Street

My African American friend and I were headed in to the souk when I heard, “wassup, ni*&^%,” flung from a car with booming music. Almost immediately, three young guys standing near us starting apologizing for the comment with a “we are so sorry. They hear this in the rap music. They are stupid.” My friend graciously said that it was nothing. She’d heard it before. The rest of the Jordanians we met were not so uncouth. The souk was filled with pretty people and friendly vendors. Not aggressive but helpful. In general, my black friends got rather a lot of attention, most flirtatious, in Jordan.

The entrance to the souk filled with big buff security guys.

Small but fun, the Friday “Souk Jara” is a fun way to spend a few hours and grab dinner on a Friday night. Much like a flea market, you can buy olive soap, scarves, sesame seeds, puffed wheat snack, and many other things.

At the food court, I enjoyed dinner. The various fruit stands were giving samples with the watermelon juice winning out. I had a fabulous grilled hotdog with all the trimmings except the french fries. Then I had part of a “saj” a fresh dough wrap filled with your choice and then fried like a quesadilla. After that, how could I resist the Volk’s Burger when almost nothing beats the smell of grilled beef?

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For dessert, I had grilled bananas served with ice cream and honey. Mostly, I enjoyed the music, the mix of people, including musicians and eye candy.

See Petra with Friends

In the early morning light of the cavern called “the Siq” in Petra, we three friends were alone in our walk round the twists and turns of the 30 minute walk to that classic view of Petra — the view of the Treasury through the slim gap of the Siq.

Petra by night.

We did actually have company in the form of three other tourists who outpaced us and a local dog. Plus a few of the local Bedouin guides trying to sell us donkey rides. But mostly, we were alone, skipping along the well kept path between the rose pink sandstone. The evening before, we had traipsed in the dark to the same spot with 300 other tourists for “Petra by Night” and I’d recommend it. The night walk costs 12 Dinars ($17) and the day pass costs 50 Dinar ($71) but it was worth it. I avoided the donkey and camel rides but the 20 Dinar ($28) horse cart gallop up the walk is also worth it. The two hour up the 800 steps to the “high place” did not seem worth it to me but you can take a donkey up and then, for those who enjoy vertiginous thrills, it might be worth it. But then you could also walk up in stilettos.

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Although Petra is touristy, it is much less so than many places on anyone’s list of places to see. I recommend getting up and going at 6 a.m. when the park opens. And bring friends.