The administrative hub in the making at the capital's Agargaon has started to turn into an ideal gathering spot for food lovers as dozens of street food stalls have sprung up recently in the vicinity of the Election Commission (EC) office.
Starting from the surrounding area of the EC office, sidewalks stretching nearly half a kilometre area across the new administrative zone is full of food stalls selling hundreds of food items including Dosa, Shahi Luchi, Burger, Pitha, Tandoori Tea, Chicken Fry, Fuchka, Chotpoti, Velpuri, Jhalmuri, Kebab, Pizza, Shwarma and fresh fruit juices.
Thanks to the affordable price, good food quality and the soothing environment, people from far and wide come here in large numbers.
Visiting the new street food hotspot, it was seen that sellers start to set up their stalls and prepare foods from 3pm. By 4pm nearly 100 temporary food stalls are ready to serve food lovers on the road from in front of the Islamic Foundation office to the Bangladesh Public Service Commission office.
By the time the sun is setting on the western horizon, both sides of the four-lane road are full of crowds.
Sellers said they keep their stalls open from 4pm to 10pm and thousands of food lovers gather in the area on a regular basis. On Fridays the number of visitors increases significantly and it feels like the Office Para is the venue of a fair.
The road, which is under the Dhaka North City Corporation, glows like daylight with the LED lights. Some visitors said the area looks more beautiful at night when roads and sidewalks are mostly empty.
"The food here is delicious and the prices are relatively low," said Nizam Uddin, who came from Kalyanpur with his friend to have Dosa.
The stalls, either set up on vans or on steel and wooden structures, use LPG cylinders to prepare foods. There are plastic chairs in front of most stalls for customers, while there are many permanent benches by the roadside that serve as the seating arrangement.
Food lovers spend quality time here eating, gossiping and taking pictures. Some are often seen playing guitar and singing along with their friends.
The variety of foods also include, various smashed items (plum, hog plum, guava) – popularly known as vorta, pickles, hot and cold beverages, panipuri, chanachur, nuts, boiled chickpea, peyaju, beguni, chicken roll, vegetable roll, boiled eggs and chaap.
"As there is no public transport here, the number of vehicles is comparatively less than other roads. The road is pretty wide with bright lights. So, overall it feels good to visit here," said another visitor who came with his sister.
There are two stalls in the area that sell Tandoori tea, which is very popular especially for the smoky smell of clay-made pots used to serve the tea. Kazi Milon, one of the Tandoori tea sellers, said roughly 300 people drink tea from his store every day.
The shop has been crowded since evening. 30 to 50 rupees per cup of tea. Malay tandoori, cashew nut tandoori tea and chocolate tandoori tea are sold here. Kazi Milon said that 300 people drink this tea every day.
"Price per cup of tea ranges from Tk30-50," he said.
Mahibullah Rahman, owner of Wrap Chef in front of the Jame Mosque in Agargaon said he opened his stall some two months ago.
He sells Burgers for Tk 50 to 70, Shwarmas for Tk80 to 100, Sandwiches for Tk 60, fried chicken for Tk90 to 100.
"Every day we serve 50 to 60 customers," he told The Business Standard.
A little further from this stall is the stall of "Chap A Achi". Here Shahi Luchi is available at Tk 10, Chicken Chaap at Tk100, Chicken BBQ at Tk110, Chicken Boti Kebab at Tk100, Beef Chap at Tk130 and Cold Drinks at Tk15 to 20
Omar Saif, the seller, said they sell food worth Tk6,000 to Tk7,000 every day.
Mosharraf Hossain sells various fruits including watermelon, pomegranate, mango and papaya.
He told The Business Standard that he has been living in this area for 30 years.
"We did not even imagine the area would develop so fast. Even four years ago, there were slums and rickshaw garages in this area," he said, adding that he makes a sale of Tk3,000 to Tk4,000 every day.
A 100 feet wide four-lane road, which was built some three years ago, has transformed the look of the area. Wide sidewalks, dedicated lanes for bicycles and roadside car parking space have complemented the beauty of the road.
"I have been selling street foods in front of the Islamic Foundation building for three and a half years," Mohammed Khokon told The Business Standard.
"Initially our stall was the first Chaap store, then slowly many food stalls joined," he added.
Hiron Mia, a pop-corn seller, said he sells Tk3000 worth of pop-corns every day.
Non-government employee Monwar Hossain, who came with his wife and daughter, said that there are not many places in the capital to visit.
"I often come here with my family on holidays," he said.
Other than the food stalls, there are vendors who regularly sell toys and balloons. There are also people who check glucose and blood pressure on the sidewalks.