Food is the linchpin of society and an expression of cultural identity – many of the restaurant owners in the port city of Chattogram firmly believe in this assertion. They, in their restaurants, represent various aspects of the Bangalee culture through local foods.
These restaurants have already taken a special place in the hearts of food lovers as well as the connoisseurs of traditional Bangalee culture, thanks to the variety of delicacies they provide customers with. For the wide range of menus as well as distinctiveness in taste and presentation of different items, most of these eateries have now become a brand themselves.
Kutumbari becomes a popular brand within short time
"Kutumbari Restora" started its journey in 2014 at the AK Khan intersection in Chattogram city. The restaurant founded by Ashraful Ahsan Rakib, Rubel Md Wajedul Islam and Monir Hossain and being run following a "maximum sales, minimum rates" policy has opened three more branches in the Alankar intersection, Wasa intersection and Chawkbazar areas just in seven years of its inception.
Kutumbari has an array of 100 types of local food items. Two popular dishes – Nawab Biryani, which is prepared with goat breasts, and Chicken Kalia – are found only at Kutumbari in the port city.
Besides, Kutumbari's Jorda Bhat – a traditional food of the Chattogram region, and Phirni have a special appeal among the customers.
The restaurant is also famous for preparing various items such as Khasir Paya (goat stew), Gorur Nehari (cow stew), soup, Hyderabad biryani, Iranian chicken pulao, chicken biryani, kachchi biryani, and different types of mash (bharta) for breakfast.
However, food prices at the restaurant are not that much higher compared to other ordinary eateries in the city. Apart from that, the restaurant has taken place in the list of customers' choice due to its decoration and healthy environment.
The restaurant remains open for customers round the clock.
Ashraful Ahsan Rakib, managing director of Kutumbari Restora, said the restaurant has become popular within a short period of time only because of its food quality. "Our own team checks the quality of a food item before serving it to any customer. If the quality of the food is not up to the mark, it is not served. The major feature of Kutumbari is fresh food."
A new branch of Kutumbari is going to be opened in the tourist city of Cox's Bazar in November this year. The owners plan to open another five branches of the restaurant at different important points of the Chattogram city, besides expanding their business to all the divisional cities of the country in phases.
Bir Chattala – a blend of history and tradition
Founded under the slogan "Desi Food in Desi Taste" in the SS Khaled Road area of Chattogram city in 2017, Bir Chattala restaurant has 27 types of Bangalee food items. These include bhuna khichuri, plain rice, dal, egg curry, beef kalia, chicken rosa bhuna, chicken kala bhuna, duck rosa bhuna, rui fish bhuna, hilsa fry, loitta fry, different types of bharta and vegetables.
As the prices of foods are comparatively the same as that of other common Bangalee dishes, the eaters throng the restaurant during lunch and dinner times.
In addition, Bir Chattala offers a special wedding food package "Biye Barir Khana"' that includes 15 food items served at traditional wedding ceremonies. Besides, there are 10 types of drinks including different juices in the menu of Bir Chattala. There is a "paaner batta" (paan shop) at the entrance of the restaurant. Twenty types of paan are available here and their prices range between Tk15 and Tk115.
Four rooms of this restaurant are decorated differently. The lost traditions of rural Bengal, verses, poems, patterns of culture have been highlighted in each room. Antique tape recorders, pianos and other musical instruments can be found on the walls of the restaurant. These aspects of Bangalee culture along with Bangalee food fascinate the customers.
There is a separate arrangement for tea on the veranda of the restaurant. Traditional Bella biscuits of Chattogram, which are also made by the restaurant authorities, are served with tea. In the afternoon, the place becomes abuzz with the adda of eminent people in the field of art and literature.
Tipu Hossain, in-charge of Bir Chattala restaurant, said from the beginning, the restaurant has been attaching utmost importance to food quality and hygiene. The restaurant has highlighted the tradition of Chattogram, he added.
Zaman Hotel – famous for dal and vegetables
Zaman Hotel started its journey in 1976 at Alkaron intersection of Chattogram. Under the management of 3 brothers named Mohammad Zaman, Malekuzzaman, Nuruzzaman, 20 branches of this hotel were set up in Chattagram, Cox's Bazar and Dhaka later.
In the beginning, this hotel was widely appreciated all over Chattogram for tea and paratha. Later, it became more popular for local food. In addition to local food, Zaman Hotel's mixed vegetables and dal are highly favoured by its customers.
The three founders of Zaman Hotel are no longer alive. Their children have maintained the tradition of Zaman Hotel. Even now, the name of Zaman Hotel comes to the forefront when it comes to delicious local food.
Kaiser Zaman, son of Mohammad Zaman, said Zaman Hotel seriously prioritises customer satisfaction.
Member Hotel and Hotel Nizam – bharta lovers' favourite
You will hardly find a food lover who came to Chattogram but did not taste various types of bharta at Member Hotel and Hotel Nizam. Member Hotel is located next to Pahartali College Road and Hotel Nizam is in Chattogram Railway Station area and is famous for bharta.
Member Hotel serves about 30 bharta items including eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, potato, almond, mustard, banana, dried fruit, shrimp dried fish. The price of each type of bharta is Tk20. Prices of other food items are also reasonable. In addition to bharta, meats of quails, pigeons and ducks are favourites for customers.
Nizam Hotel is also famous for its bharta recipes and other local food items. The hotel has a rich collection of delicious local food in addition to pigeons, ducks, various birds and all kinds of native fish.