Restrapreneurs of Dhanmondi never seem to miss the opportunity to bring diversity to the table. Amid the plethora of options in the capital's food centre, you would still be hard-pressed to find a kitchen led by an international chef, serving vibrant dishes while maintaining proper hygiene and standard. Cafe Sao Paulo is here to change that.
Cafe Sao Paulo is a multi-cuisine bistro situated at Satmasjid road. The restaurant opened on 6 January 2022. Even though the name and the aesthetic South American-inspired decor suggest that the restaurant only serves Brazilian foods, one can also find various interesting fusions on the menu.
The bistro is a one-stop solution for every meal of the day, from English breakfast to seafood pasta for dinner. Although a bit expensive, their range of breakfast items is quite impressive. But if the restaurant serves multiple cuisines along with Brazilian dishes, why is it called Cafe Sao Paulo?
The general manager of Cafe Sao Paulo LTD, Shaheen Sarwar, answered, "Like the cafe, Sao Paulo also had a humble beginning. From a poor village, it eventually developed into a world-renowned city exerting strong influences in commerce, finances, arts, culture and colourful entertainment based on their coffee business."
This growth of the city mirrored the foundation of Cafe Sao Paulo; given the modest background of the founders.
Shaheen then showed the beautiful painting on the wall of the restaurant which describes the history of coffee and said that their aim is simple: to provide a completely sophisticated, yet casual dining and coffee house experience for the customers.
The cafe is a sister concern of the Modele group, which is one of the largest knit composite garments exporters in our country. The company stepped into the restaurant business with a food court called Port Dundee Located at Narayanganj.
But Cafe Sao Paulo has been a great success among foodies, primarily because of their fusion cuisine including interesting dishes like seafood tapas, waffle sandwiches and of course freshly brewed coffee.
Sarwar, who used to work in the hospitality industry, believes that Cafe Sao Paulo will bring an edge to the underdeveloped hospitality industry of our country. In addition, he shared that the cafe will soon launch its Banani and Gulshan branch and has plans to open the country's first drive-through restaurant in Dhaka.
Sarwar said, "It is not common for a restaurant to rigorously do research before launching a restaurant and bring foreign chefs on-premise to serve authentic foods. We even verified the taste of the Brazil-based dishes, from the Brazilian ambassador and gave the dishes a deshi twist so that people can find familiarity in it."
I went there to try out the happy meals that they promoted with the tagline 'Italian Chef's Deshi fusion'. The Italian Chef, Valter Belli also shared his experience at the restaurant.
"Cafe Sao Paulo provided me with the freedom I needed to prove my creativity. This is the reason I love working for this company under the leadership of the Owner, Mr Masuduzzaman, Managing Director of Modele Group," Chef Valter Belli said.
"I recommend Sao Paulo Special Pizza and Moqueca de Camarao (Brazilian prawn coconut stew) which take one's taste buds on an exotic journey. The fusion happy meals are a great choice too," Valter added.
The Business Standard team has tried their happy hour meals along with a few popular Brazilian desserts that netizens recommended.
Happy hour meals
Under happy hour meals, we saw three dishes on the menu. We ordered two of them, set menus 1 and 3.
The first one has chicken tikka lasagna, tomato soup and lemon tart in it. Among them, I enjoyed the tomato soup the most because of its thickness and exquisite flavours blessed by the fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. A bruschetta would be great with it.
To localise the meal, they served a medium portion of lasagna with spicy minced chicken tikka. The texture was nice, the meat was perfectly spiced, but the dish can benefit from more cheese.
The lemon tart was amazingly good. The pastry shell had the perfect crisp in it and the lemon-flavoured custard showed the right balance between lemon and dairy flavours.
The set menu 3, had the same dessert, cream of mushroom soup, Paulian chicken and Saffron rice/mashed potatoes. I altered the mushroom soup with cream of chicken and had the saffron rice instead. Here the twist was they served deshi saffron rice along with Paulian flavoured sauce in the chicken. The rice was light and fluffy and went nicely along with the uniquely gravied chicken steak, made following a Brazilian recipe. The taste of the gravy was tangy but not overwhelming. The cream of chicken soup was delicious. The velvety smooth texture and the tender chicken pieces make it the apt dish to accompany you in chilled weather.
Price for both sets: Tk550
Rating for both sets: 7.5/10
Coxinha (Brazilian chicken croquette)
Coxinha is a popular snack in Brazil which resembles our local deep-fried chicken chops. The efforts of Cafe Sao Paulo to serve traditional Brazilian street food was commendable as they adhered to the same ingredients and presentation as the original.
The croquettes had a crispy outside and a generous inside filling of cheese cream and chicken shreds.
They served it with their house-special cocktail sauce, which was the perfect complement to the meal and was garnished with cabbage and lettuce to add some freshness.
The only complaint I have is with the portion, as it serves only three coxinhas.
Curau De Milho (Brazilian corn pudding)
This is a simple dessert of Brazil which tasted a lot like traditional custard. However, the dish has cornflakes merged into the creamy texture which differentiates it from ordinary custards.
It was a pretty fancy-looking dessert decorated with hard sugar artwork on top. Also, it had a hint of cinnamon-ish taste which added an edge to it.
The dish was delectable, but I won't say it was extraordinary. The portion and presentation were good according to the price.
Mocha Brownie Frappe
The mocha brownie frappe is a concoction of chocolate syrup, brownie, ice cream, blended coffee in mocha flavour and blended ice topped with a generous amount of whipped cream.
The drink is humongous and for any people who want a sugar rush with strong mocha goodness, it is perfect for them.
The coffee taste was dominant in the drink, enhanced by the addition of chocolate brownies. For a coffee enthusiast like me, I found nothing to complain about.
It was not too sugary and had a perfect fudgy texture. It is a delicious summer drink that I recommend. The drink is quite pricey and because it's so big, some might find it hard to finish.