By Natasha and Hasan
5 MUST VISIT FOOD JOINTS IN PURAN DHAKA
Dhaka has no shortage of good places to eat. But if you want to visit food joints that have been around for a long time, then you have to keep Puran Dhaka on the top of your list. For the uninitiated, Puran Dhaka or Old Dhaka is located on the banks of the River Buriganga, is the historical part of our capital city, packed with must-see heritage locations, and of course, food joints to visit. Let’s dive right in:
Location: 110, Beside Shiva Temple, Tatibazar, Dhaka 1100
Recent times have seen a rise in the number of vegetarians and vegans, for ethical reasons, as well as a growing awareness about healthy lifestyles. While it is true that Old Dhaka is heaven for meat and biriyani lovers, it also has plenty of offerings for vegetarians as well. There are about 5 vegetarian restaurants in and around Tatibazar, and ‘Jogonnath Bhojanaloy’ ranks on top of that list. They serve as many as 20+ vegetarian dishes every day including chanar rosha, cauliflower rosha, shukto matar daal, jackfruit curry, mixed vegetables, various bhortas etc. with steamed rice, along with papor, chutney and many different types of daal. The dessert menu includes our traditional rice pudding or payesh, as well as sweet yoghurt. The ambience and the food both have that comforting homestyle feel. The prices are also very affordable; about Tk200-250 per person. If you want to avoid crowds and waiting time, be sure to drop by before lunch time.
Location: 70 Kazi Alauddin Road, Nazirabazar, Dhaka 1100
Haji Biriyani is one of the oldest institutions of Puran Dhaka. Established in 1939 and located in Nazirabazar, this happening place has only one item on their menu; Mutton Biriyani. The biriyani is packaged in leaves as per their unique tradition, and one serving is bound to make you crave for more. What makes Hajji Biriyani unique is the use of mustard oil instead of the conventional clarified butter to cook the biryani. The spicy mustard oil along with saffron, black pepper, curd, raisins, peanuts, buffalo cheese and the essential biriyani spices . You will get a good amount of lime, green chili and cucumber with every serving.
It is worth mentioning here that Dhaka, both ‘new’ and Old, has a bunch of fake Haji Biriyani outlets, but the taste is a dead giveaway, because nothing compares to the authentic one. Even in 2022, during peak hours the original branch remains crowded with food connoisseurs and biriyani lovers from all over the city. There are no fancy billboards or signs in front of the restaurant, so take the help of Google Maps or lookout for an excited hungry crowd on the streets of Nazirabazar.
Location: 114 Nazimuddin Road, Dhaka 1100
Nirob Hotel is also one of the oldest joints in Old Dhaka. Located near Old Central Jail, this place is famous for their Bangla-style food menus. During breakfast you can try their Paya Nihari, Beef Kala Bhuna, Chicken Soup, mixed veggies and milk tea, along with paratha or naan bread. During lunch time, they serve 20+ vegetable dishes and veggie mash (bhorta) along with steamed rice and lentil soups. They are mostly famous for their variety of vegetarian fare, but they do serve your usual fish, chicken, beef and mutton curries as well. They have both air conditioned and non air-conditioned seating arrangements. This is the best place if you want to get acquainted with authentic Bangladeshi home-style food. The prices are quite affordable and the environment is quite neat and clean.
New Café Corner:
Location: 28 North Brook Hall Road, Dhaka 1100
New Café Corner is one of the most iconic fast food locations in Old Dhaka. Located near Bangla Bazar, this food joint has been around since 1962. They are mostly famous for their Mutton Crumb Chop. They have an extensive menu of typical nashta items such as utton curry, chicken fry, prawn fry, fish fry, cutlet, paratha, milk tea etc. The serving time is pretty fast and everything comes with a side of salad. Café Corner might be the only place that serves the famous ‘Mutton Crumb Chop’, which was a British delicacy in the then Indian Subcontinent. They serve slices of puffed bread with everything & their tea is also quite famous. The place is quite small and located at a very busy intersection. It gets crowded during the afternoon till night time. Not a cosy place for evening snacks, but the vibe is a bit old and that’s what I love about it. The Lalkuthi Launch Terminal is within walking distance if you want to see the hustle and bustle of the terminal. Also, ‘Beauty Boarding’ is just a minute walk from Café Corner and has its own rich history.
Beauty Lassi & Falooda:
Location: 30/A Johnson Road (Ray Shaheb Bazar), Dhaka 1100
Beauty Lassi & Falooda turns 100 years on the 15th June, 2022. Not many restaurants withstand the test of time, but Beauty Lassi passed that with flying colours. Beauty Lassi started its journey in 1922 holding the hand of the Late Abdul Aziz, who was a construction worker and also sold Lemonade aka Lebur Shorbot & Lassi on the side for extra income. There are a few Beauty Lassi located in Old Dhaka, but the original one is located on the above mentioned address. Initially they started with only Lemonade and Lassi, and introduced Falooda around the year 2000. Their current menu has lemonade, basic and special lassi & basic and special falooda. During the summer time their lemonade and lassi are in high demand. They use ice in almost everything. The yoghurt used in the lassi and falooda tasted heavenly when I tried it separately once. People gather in flock here for their affordable price and great taste. They also have branches in Nazirabazar & Narinda.
Old Dhaka is a must visit place for food and sightseeing if you are travelling from out of town. Make sure to travel using rickshaw, as it’s much more convenient. The roads are quite narrow and congested and none of the above mentioned places offer roadside parking. You can also ride on horse carriages as mode of transportation. Visit Old Dhaka, go to some of the places and I promise it will be an experience you will always remember.
Photos: Ariz Hoque, Abrar Hoque, Natasha and Hasan