Miah and Rizwan B Farouq met, it was a convergence that soon
resulted in a culinary concept. The former famed for his delicious
dishes, which made him a household name in the UK and the latter
an entrepreneur who was toying with the idea of a theme restaurant
soon discovered that their shared interest has a possibility
in the food market. They began to nurture their idea. The two
reached a verdict on April 14, 2003. They signed a contract
that resulted in Heritage, the restaurant that is centered on
the themes of the heritage sites scattered all over Bangladesh.
is the name that I came up with. We were first thinking of calling
it Tommy's Kitchen, Tommy's Heritage or something. But suddenly
it occurred to me that Heritage would be the perfect classification
for this," says Rizwan who cannot mask his enthusiasm after
the successful unveiling of this home of fusion food that explores
mostly the indigenous cuisine. "The restaurant itself is
an artwork, it is an on going artwork," adds Rizwan referring
to the work that is still in progress in his two-storied restaurant.
eight months to put everything together. The old shamble of
an edifice on the road 109, Gulshan was transmuted into the
present structure that houses eight different seating arrangements,
each named after one heritage site. It even treasures one large
mural-like canvas by artist Jamal Ahmed in the Buriganga section,
and a real painted mural in the Sundarbans area. The gates,
doors, the reception table, are antique bought from the local
market. "Shindhuks were turned into door panels,"
informs Rizwan, who along with two of his buddies and the one
and only Tommy Miah, the Curry King, are proud owner of this
newly opened restaurant. They are delighted that Michael Palin
of BBC fame stopped over during inauguration. He even left them
a note of appreciation in writing.
of this "signature restaurant of Tommy Miah" saw a
lot of dignitaries and stars, turning up to savour not only
the food but also the spectacle that the restaurant itself is.
"It is a trove of our art and craft, we have created each
section designed after a heritage site," says Rizwan. Even
the patio, where one can enjoy dining under the open sky is
named Panam Nagar, one of the capital cities of bygone Bengal,
which thrived considerably during the rule of Isha Khan, and
which now lies in utter neglect.
want to raise awareness about our own heritage, about how most
of them are lying unattended," affirms Rizwan. His idea
is to promote preservation and raise the issue of putting these
places in the list of the UN heritage sites. He seems to believe
that naming each section and bedecking most in conformity with
the heritage sites may have an impact on the connoisseurs flocking
to his eatery.
it does or does not is an inference that should be stayed for
future. As for now, one can clearly detect how the people who
envisaged the restaurant are heavily into 'heritage look'. Starting
from the beginning, it is a tour de force all throughout. The
entrance is a huge replica of a 'mehrab' of a mosque in Gaur,
the capital of the Sena dynasty that had seen the Sultani era
adding diversity to its architectural milieu.
saw it on the cover of Star Weekend Magazine. I thought it was
a gate of sorts, then I found out that it was a huge mehrab
of a mosque. I also found out that the photographer was Zakir
Hossain. But I owe it to the issue of the magazine that ran
a cover on Gaur, it was from the cover photo that Nogen Pal
had fashioned the terracotta designs after," informs Rizwan.
hails from Dhamrai. A pal (potter) by descent he was entrusted
with this huge undertaking after Rizwan and his architects were
fully satisfied with the sample piece he produced.
was on Sepember 1 that I received the work order," says
Nogen, who has completed a four year course from Bulbul Academy
of Fine Arts on top of what has been handed down to him by his
father. Nogen Pal took three months to fill in the huge structure
with his delicately produced terracotta slabs. "The surface
area of the gate measures at around 1800 square feet. This is
the largest commission that I have ever done," reveals
sizable structure that the architect Tania reluctantly built
when Rizwan insisted on having it, is a strong echo of the civilisation
that once thrived in Gaur. "My architects did not agree
to such a big gate, as they thought it would look ugly,"
As for the
adornment with chuni chukri, another form of craft that used
to see its application in mosques and mahals (courts), Nogen
Pal is still at work three days after the inauguration on a
structure on the second floor. He along with his helping hands
are busy setting the tile chips on a rooftop structure at Heritage.
The open space the finishing touches are been given too is a
place to sit. It is bracketed by the large section called Buriganga
at one side and the stairs at the other. The 28 feet painting
by Jamal Ahmed gives the Buriganga section its deserved look.
There are few more paintings of the river Buriganga overlooking
the old Dhaka on sale.
In the culinary
department too, Heritage has a new concept to offer. The buzzword
here is 'fusion'. "Fusion is recreating dishes. It has
been developed over the years. You present something that would
obviously look good, taste good, and is presented in a fusion
manner," explains the master chef. "This is the first
restaurant of this kind, hopefully there will be others. We
are planing to open up branches in KolKata, Delhi," he
adds. "There is a saying that you can't run before you
walk," philosophises the master chef, who was given this
epithet by his partner -- Rizwan.
how things started off, he says, "Both of us wanted the
same thing. We shared the same sentiment, we always felt proud
of our country and wanted to do something about it."
in the eighties there were no Bangladeshi restaurants in Dhaka.
I used get blamed for calling my London dig an Indian restaurant.
I always wanted set up a Bangali restaurant in the home turf,"
Tommy goes on. The restaurant is a "dream that we dreamed
together, and which came true," Tommy declared on the inaugural
It is the
winning dishes that would be served in Heritage. The outcome
of Tommy Miah's international competition will surely keep the
customers coming back for more. A lot of curries are coming
in from the UK. In fact whatever fusion took place in the UK,
has been brought in to enrich the menu. "Tommy is the first
chef who is aligning with Bangladeshi food," opines Rizwan.
arches lifted from the Paharpur Bihara, the interior dresses
tradition in a new look. On the third day after the launching,
in the middle of the Sunderbans section a family dines as the
speakers emit a jaari, a variant of indigenous songs,
in a subdued sound. This certainly is a change. The Heritage
restaurant has grafted everything onto its modernist edifice
-- from music to bits and pieces of crafts, historical documents
encapsulated in photographs, furniture, and even artworks. The
concept extends further as one spots two deer roaming in a makeshift
zoo beside the front porch. Heritage certainly is a site that
fuses not only different kinds of food but also our cultural
and geological splendours.