From centre fold
Posh eateries to please the palette
Khazana (Hs 12, Rd 55, Gulshan Ave.; comes right before Spitfire)
Khazana has to be the treasure chest for Indian cuisine. To start with drinks, they have the most supreme collection of lassis thick, rich, creamy and wonderfully frothy. Dishes like Saag Gosht, Machli Ke Sule, Fish Tikka Shaslik on a bed of raw papaya salad, Aachari Murg Tikka are mostly cooked in yogurt based gravy and in one word can be described as lip-smacking. The seasonal vegetables and mushrooms essentially cooked with a variety of hand-picked spices all imported from India and served with tomato chutney are to drool over. The naans are soft in texture and great to the taste. The exclusive paneer items served with mint and raita, assortment of chickpeas dishes, lovely collection of dahls, and meaty kebabs will make one sigh in bliss. Other prized dishes include Chana Chat, Raan Buzkazzi, Frontier Mix Grill and the Khazana Special Jelebi. Khazana also offers a lunch buffet at Tk. 399 per person all inclusive. Its interiors have a traditional ambience with a hint of western fusion, the wooden Elephant headpieces and hanging partitions reflecting the greatness of the Indian culture which blends beautifully with the soothing music and off-white drapes. The eye-catching paintings on the walls are actually for sale. So go and enjoy the impromptu art exhibition while savouring the wonderful items on the menu.
Vintage (Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, Ground Floor, 1 Minto Road)
The Vintage restaurant offers semi-formal dining in stylish surroundings and is famous for its haute cuisine. This restaurant has a fascinating décor that is very 'vintage' Vintage gramophones, wall clocks, brass plates from antediluvian ships, and vintage wooden panels and chandeliers create a truly wonderful atmosphere. The menu is quite extensive with dishes prepared from a range of imported beef, game, poultry and seafood, complemented by a selection of fine wines. The restaurant, closed on Fridays, is open from 12:00-3:00 pm for lunch and 7:00 pm-12:00 am for dinner.
Koreana (Hs 5, Rd 136, Gulshan 1, the road between Anderssen's Ice Cream and Abacus restaurant)
Whenever one thinks of Korean cuisine, the mind veers towards tofu, but there's a lot more to it than that. At Koreana you can set yourself a leisurely pace to explore it all. There's kimchi (virtually the national dish of Korea), pickled vegetables, usually first salted, then seasoned with garlic, ginger, chilli pepper, and salted fish, shrimps, or oysters. There are meat dishes like pulgogi (or bulgogi), a Korean style marinated barbequed beef cut into thin strips. There's also kalbi, one of Korea's most famous grilled dishes beef short ribs marinated overnight in a mixture of green onions, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. For soups you can try sunbudu-jiggae, a soft tofu soup or maeun-tang, an outstandingly delicious hot and spicy fish soup that contains great chunks of fresh fish, stewed with chilies and kochujhang.
El Toro (Hs 1-A, Rd 138, Gulshan 1; the road beside Abacus restaurant)
El Toro meaning 'the bull', serves SONORAN-style Mexican food. Sonora is a high-desert country state of El Norte or the North. Established in 1994 El Toro is a place where each and every visitor is considered a “guest”, following the old Spanish adage mi casa es su casa my home is your home. The adequately lit ambience, the Mexican masks and artifacts, Mexican tunes, the flaming adobe walls, the cactus neon, the already popular menu items, all add to the diner's eating out experience. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, mouth-watering salsa, quesadillas, nachos, and fajitas are among some of the Mexican favourites that the chefs prepare, using fresh ingredients, with a soulful passion and consistency. El Toro is also famous for a unique dessert rightfully named “Deep Fried Ice-Cream-yes literally: the ice cream is covered in corn flake crumbs and then deep fried in oil. The taste you ask? Hot outside, cold inside and yummyliscious! Generous portions of El Toro food on the average is Tk. 250 per person. The 'fiesta' at El Toro begins at 11:30 am and ends at 10:30 pm everyday.
Mondira (Hs 42, Rd 123, Gulshan Ave.; the road beside South East Bank)
For 100% Bangla food Mondira is the place to haunt. With a two-part theme permeating the décor one side leaning towards the village scene complete with hukkas and langols, the other towards the era of the Jamindars, showcasing pictures of precious jewellery and charming architecture on the walls the place oozes with all things Bangla including the yummy food. All diners are welcomed at the gate by a doorman resplendent in a “notun jamai” get-up, then are shown to their tables by waiters and are offered “tetul'er shorbot”. At the end of the meal diners are offered sweet paan to indulge in. Mondira's menu highlights dishes from all over Bangladesh but in order to cater to the eclectic needs of the clientele's palette, it also features North and South Indian cuisine. Popular Bangla dishes include shorshey ilish, dopiaza of rui, rupchanda, chingri and other fishes, and a wide range of bhortas and chutneys like taki maach'er bhorta, shutki bhorta/chutney, begun bhorta, tomato bhorta, kacha kola bhorta, alu bhorta, borboti bhorta, pudina chutney, dhoneypata chutney, etc. And yes, the daal is to die for. So expect to give a satisfied, hearty burp at the end of a dining experience at Mondira.
Heritage (Hs 10, Rd 109, Gulshan 2)
Heritage's décor and feel is based on Bangladesh's rich heritage. There are seven dining areas, each having their own unique ambience and named after a heritage sight of Bangladesh. For example, the two dining halls on the ground floor are called Sundarban and Paharpur and the patio on the 1st floor, where one can enjoy dining under the open sky, is called Panam Nagar. There is a “heritage” map where you can see the location of all the famous heritage places in Bangladesh. But apart from the exotic décor what one should know that this is the signature restaurant of famous chef Tommy Miah dubbed the “Curry King” of Britain where diners can tuck into his mouthwatering “Bangla fusion” culinary creations and the winning dishes of his International Indian Chef of the Year competition, now in its 14th year. Diners keep coming back to savour dishes like chicken tikka masala, chicken loroial and smoked hilsa and sip at the house drink jira pani. Heritage has a lunch buffet with 35 items for Tk 300 per + Vat and is open for lunch from 12-3 pm and for dinner from 6-11 pm.
Café Bazar (Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, 107 Kazi Nazrul Islam Ave.)
Located on the lobby level of Sonargaon, Café Bazar recently got a face-lift from the world renowned Master Chef, Davied Jones who's decided to run a different theme each day for lunch and dinner focusing on quality food from particular regions, giving guests global tastes every day of the week. The regional cuisines served are what are globally deemed to be the most popular, and the dishes are very well known. At this buffet style restaurant, quality food is plentiful and the range of dishes vast without sacrificing the authentic flavours and recipes. The place focuses on specialty days such as Thai on Mondays, Arabic on Tuesdays, Vietnamese on Wednesdays, Chinese on Thursdays, Bangladeshi on Fridays, International on Saturdays and American on Sundays. Café Bazar stays open from 12:30-3:30 pm for lunch and 7-10:30 pm for dinner.
Prepared with a budget between BDT 1,000 to 2,000 for a nice time out for two, your time at these posh eateries is sure to be a great culinary experience each and every time.
By Simin Saifuddin
Photo: Vintage, El Toro, Cafe Bazar, Khazana