Oh! Calcutta is a simple yet elegant restaurant conveniently located on one of the main thoroughfares in the Banani district of Dhaka. The restaurant is part of a fine dining chain with award-winning branches in the Indian cities of Calcutta, Mumbai and Delhi. Though the restaurant serves British and continental dishes, its area of expertise is the Calcutta cuisine, namely the Bengali and Nawabi options. Oh! Calcutta recreates traditional dishes from recipes passed down from generation to generation. The chingri malai curry, prawns cooked in a creamy coconut sauce, and bhapa ilish, local fish marinated in mustard and chillies and steamed in a banana leaf, are very popular. Finish your meal with rasgulla, a traditional dessert of cottage cheese and semolina dumplings cooked in syrup.
Pan Tao serves authentic Thai cuisine in the heart of Dhaka. Head Chef Pharatee Sakhunsong hails from Thailand and has a culinary career spanning 27 years, from hawker stalls in her homeland to restaurants in the United Kingdom. Her menu is based around the four main tastes of Thai cuisines – sweet, sour, spicy and salty – with ingredients flown in from Thailand. Regular patrons rave about the tom yam gung ya (king prawn soup) and the yam pak boong (white mushroom salad). Lovers of seafood will not be disappointed either with dishes like pla ka pong som rod (fried whole white snapper with sweet and sour sauce) and pla jaramed nung buoy (steamed pomfret with pickled plum) waiting to delight their palates.
Izumi, meaning ‘fountain’ or ‘spring’ in Japanese, is a peaceful oasis in hustling, bustling Dhaka despite its location in the popular Gulshan region. The elegant and modern restaurant resides in a picturesque courtyard which guests are able to dine in. Beautiful bonsai trees, a rock garden and waterfall lend Izumi an authentic Japanese style, while artwork by local artist Ashraful Hasan adorns the exterior walls. Inside, the restaurant is spacious and softly lit and patrons can enjoy familiar Japanese fare like sushi, sashimi and tempura or something a little less typical such as the yaki spit-roasted scallops or the grilled fresh eel with sweet eel sauce. For meat lovers, try the teppanyaki steak wagyu, 200 grams of Australian wagyu beef served with vegetables, rice and dipping sauce.
A stylish and exclusive French restaurant, Le Soufflé offers a luxury dining experience for those craving a touch of continental cuisine. Experienced chefs select the finest and freshest ingredients from around the world to create a menu full of lavish, contemporary French dishes. Be transported to northern France with the bisque de homard Breton, a Brittany-style cream of lobster soup, or indulge your taste buds with the rôti de canard, roasted plump duck breast with a warm truffle potato salad and fig and currant jus. And what French meal would be complete without a delicious dessert? Try the soufflé au framboise (raspberry soufflé) or crustade de pommes caramélisées, homemade croustade pastry with caramelised apples.
Taking its name from the Eightfold Path, the Buddhist path to enlightenment, The 8 serves a delicious array of pan-Asian cuisine. The high-end restaurant boasts a bold and creative menu blending traditional Asian recipes with contemporary flavors. Ingredients are sourced locally where possible, with high quality meats imported from Australia. Since the appointment of chef Luam, who founded Dhaka’s very first Thai restaurant Sawasdee in the 1990s, The 8’s menu has developed a distinctly Thai twist. Expect dishes like larb gai, a spicy minced chicken salad, and pla pae-sa, steamed red snapper with lime, basil and chillies. Classic pan-Asian dishes are still available, such as the Malay-inspired spicy masak merah chicken or nasi goreng, an Indonesian fried rice dish.
If you like your food varied and your surroundings kitsch and car-themed, Club Wheels is the restaurant for you. This restaurant is the brainchild of car fanatic owner Khalid Anwar, who also runs a local car import and sales company, and partner Hasib Uddine. Club Wheels is a unique restaurant serving a mix of Italian, Mexican and western food. Split over three floors, the restaurant features tables built around car engines, road signs as artwork and even a sports car converted into a booth and fitted with a table and seats – a perfect place to keep young families entertained while eating. For something less car-themed and more classic, head to the third floor, Club Wheels’ fine dining space decked in elegant blues and whites and void of any machinery. A range of good value pizzas, pastas, steaks and seafood dishes is available.
George’s Cafe is a cozy venue established an American expat with years of culinary experience in America. The interior and ambiance are more akin to a trendy Tribeca coffeehouse than a Dhaka restaurant. The menu features filling sandwiches like Italian chicken sausage with sundried tomatoes or tender spiced BBQ beef and a range of New York-style hot dogs with Big Apple-themed names like the Times Square Dog (sauerkraut with BBQ onion and yellow mustard) and the Wall Street Dog, topped with kimchi, relish and brown mustard. For a lighter snack try a brownie washed down with a delicious cup of coffee.
George’s Café, House 2, Road 10, Sector 1, Uttara, Dhaka-1230, Bangladesh, +880 1670 668566
Located on Dhanmondi’s busy Satmasjid Road, Cilantro serves a wide variety of food influenced by Latin American, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Cilantro has an interior of exposed red brickwork which contrasts with light wooden tables and seating, while clusters of recycled mason jars illuminated with tiny lights cast the restaurant in a soft glow. The diverse menu includes patatas bravas (potato chunks in a spicy tomato sauce), grilled sirloin steak and chicken souvlaki, a Greece-inspired grilled skewered chicken dish. A array of desserts is also available: choose from treats like a slice of lemon chocolate cake or sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream.
While Dhaka offers a great deal of choice for diners, there are a number of fine restaurants beyond the capital and the Mermaid Cafe is one of them. It’s part of the Mermaid Eco-Resort in Cox’s Bazar, located in south-eastern Bangladesh, a seaside town and fishing port best known for its 78-mile long beach, one of the longest in the world. The Mermaid Cafe is located on a stretch of this stunning beach overlooking the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal. It serves a mix of both Bangladeshi fare and internationally inspired dishes, with seafood caught daily from Cox’s Bazar as its specialty. Choose from dishes like fresh lobster, stuffed Indian salmon, grilled snapper or garlic prawns with spinach linguine.
Ambrosia is located in the port city of Chittagong, less than 100 miles north of Cox’s Bazar. Situated in the heart of the city, close to the harbor in the commercial Agrabad area, Ambrosia offers a diverse menu with dishes from Thai, Indonesian, Bangladeshi and continental cuisines. The large restaurant boasts high ceilings and beautiful exposed brickwork. Guests can choose from either a buffet lunch featuring 66 dishes or an a la carte menu. Highlights include steamed red snapper with lemon pineapple sauce, grilled tiger prawns or lobster thermidor.