Visitors to Bangladesh are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out. Many restaurants offer traditional Bangladeshi fare, typified by the use of fish and lentils, while others offer such diverse international cuisines as Japanese, French and Thai. From high-end restaurants to cozy cafes, arty bistros to quirky eateries, food lovers holidaying in Bangladesh will be delighted by its varied and vibrant restaurant scene.
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.
Pan Tao, House 42, Road 12, Block E, Banani, Dhaka-1213, Bangladesh, +880 29 888012
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.
The 8, House 25, Road 2, Gulshan 1, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh, +880 1927 558888
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.
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.