No matter how much we like to munch on junk food, at the end of the day, healthy comfort food is all we need.
In Dhaka, we have a handful of salad bars selling nutritious items. But no such restaurant offers a complete meal with an exact calorie count for the fitness-conscious community.
Addressing the gap in the market, Sadia Mustari Era, chairperson of the fitness company Alternate Fitness, decided to launch 'Eat Green Cafe', an eatery serving city dwellers organic and healthy food.
"A healthy diet is crucial alongside a high-intensity training program for fitness and a healthy lifestyle," said Sadia.
The cafe offers a full-fledged salad bar, light sandwiches and grilled food items, providing a range of healthy and delicious food choices.
Eat Green primarily sources the ingredients for its menu locally. Some items are imported through selective vendors.
"The ingredients are as fresh as they could be. There is no use of sugar, tasting salt or any other harmful ingredients," said Prince Placid Palma, the head chef of the restaurant.
The cafe is a passion project of Mishal Karim and Adnan Imam, who jointly own Alternate Fitness Limited that brought the F45 fitness franchise to Dhaka. Mishal Karim, who owns a few restaurants in the country, is a strong healthy eating advocate.
Eat Green Cafe was originally designed to complement the fitness centre F45 catering to its members with a wide range of healthy food items. Both Eat Green Cafe and F45 Training are located in the same building at Banani 11 in the capital.
"The responses we are getting from our guests are overwhelming. Even though we started this cafe mostly to cater to the F45 members, 50% of our customers are non-members," said Sifat Ahmed, the manager of Eat Green Cafe.
We asked the chef how the foods tasted so good even though they were made with simple ingredients.
"It's the freshness of the ingredients that decides the tastes," the chef explained with a smile.
The cafe is compact and gives out a warm, cosy vibe. The place can congregate about 15 people at a time. Recently, the restaurant introduced its buffet lunch offer for corporate workers in the vicinity, which has turned out to be its key attraction.
"Our lunch hour is from 1 to 3pm, and we are always packed during that time. The majority of our guests are foreigners," said Sifat.
The buffet includes full access to the salad bar and some hot items like prawn skewers, ginger chicken, chicken strips, chicken shashlik, fried onions, tofu, etc.
Here's our review of some of the best dishes and salad items available on the restaurant's menu
Fulfilling in quantity, this sandwich is sure to give eaters a sense of satisfaction even before eating. The slices of wholegrain bread were crispy and we could taste the richness of oatmeal in every bite.
The sandwich filling contains pesto, tuna mousse, tomato, tabasco, jalapeno and a perfect amount of spices.
Calorie: 315 kcal
Being an extremist non-vegetarian, I was a little sceptical about ordering this one, but since I wanted to try out all their best-selling items, team Eat Green said, "You must have it."
As the name suggests, the unmeat burger is a plant-based, vegan-friendly gourmet.
The burger is light, well balanced and served with tomato sauce. Be it breakfast, lunch or supper, you can have it anytime.
The burger patty is made with a blend of shiitake mushroom, black beans, chickpeas, oats, lentils and beetroot. The addition of lentils and oats gives the patty a chewy texture.
Calorie: 385 kcal
The Chicken Burger
This burger comes with a grilled chicken patty with a fried egg and a generous amount of fries. The patty is topped with iceberg lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese.
Overall, the taste of the burger is good but not particularly special. The bun-to-meat ratio is, however, a little off.
The burger's patty is somewhat thin and dry, but the toppings provide an excellent balance. Avocado slices give the burger a creamy texture, while jalapeno dressing gives a tangy taste.
Calorie: 550 kcal
Since we went there a little late, all the hot items were not available. However, we still got plenty of cold items. Most of the items were individually good. We loved the prawn skewers and chicken shashlik. They were full of flavours. The couscous salad felt a little bland, though. The salad bar allows you the full freedom to mix and match.
Available Items: Garlic mushroom, Tofu with chickpeas, Sea Bass with pineapple, Thai vegetables, vegetable rice, couscous salad, chicken fajitas, Lentil salad, Caesar salad, Grilled chicken salad, sweet corn, Boiled chickpeas, Black olives, Green olives, chickpeas salad, Mushroom Rice, Tuna salad, Fruits Salad, Creamy vegetable pasta, sauteed vegetables, Hawaiian Salad, Caesar salad, kidney bean, seabass with chickpeas, Lemon butter chicken, Mexican rice, Green apple salad, Greek salad, Sweet and sour prawn, Cold chicken pasta salad, Meatball spaghetti, Boiled spicy potato, Boil beetroot(cold).
Price: 0.95 Paisa/gm