|Top name: Kasturi is a flagship brand when it comes to serving Bangladeshi cuisine. — Photo Shahrear Kabir Heemel, courtesy Hotel Kasturi
by MH Haider
Dhaka is a city dotted with restaurants. From Bangladeshi cuisine to oriental and continental, and from the strictly 'authentic' to the 'redefined', the bulk of dining places surely satisfies many palates.
But even three decades ago, choices were fewer. At that time, in 1980, a small restaurant named Kasturi opened up. Fast forward from its humble beginning to today, Kasturi is an illustrious restaurant in Bangladesh and a flagship brand when it comes to serving Bangladeshi cuisine.
The place is not pretentious in decor. Albeit the few paintings, the interior is quite ordinary. But don't be fooled by that. The fervour with which they prepare and cook is extraordinary.
The process starts with handpicking the freshest and best quality ingredients – an activity that is meticulously carried out daily.
One of the highlights of our country's cuisine is the bhorta. A bhorta is made with ingredients chopped, mashed and spiced with onions, dried red chillies, green chillies, etc. For a Bangladeshi gourmet, few things can be more joyous than a plate of plain rice with a couple of bhortas on the side. There is a wide array of food which can be prepared and eaten as bhorta, such as shrimp, potato, papaya, eggplant, etc.
Address: 8 Purana Paltan, Dhaka
Business hours: 12-4pm; 7.30-10pm
Contact number: +880-2-956-9942.
Savouring in this spicy delight is a must if you visit the restaurant.
Fish is a staple food in Bangladesh. Kasturi serves a variety of fish dishes, although the restaurant's menu is, to a certain extent, dependent on the season. Even the simple daal (lentil soup), which is a must-have item on the Bangladeshi household, is a scrumptious affair at Kasturi.
Khan Mohammed Imtiaz, one of the directors of Kasturi, does not see it merely as a commercial venture. Even though it is such a huge brand with so much credence and fame, the restaurateur does not want to open more branches.
"We are not enthusiastic about having more outlets. We worry that operating on a larger scale may open doors to a possible lack of control and monitoring, which can consequently hamper quality," he says.
On that note, it must be said that there are many other eateries across Dhaka that have used the word 'Kasturi' in their name. "We have just one branch," Imtiaz makes it clear.
Having such strict standards – in terms of taste as well as hygiene – and leaving no room for failure to abide by them, Kasturi has built a robust reputation indeed.
So much so, many important officials, ambassadors and celebrities, when they visit Bangladesh, squeeze time out to set foot at this place.
Kasturi bagged Restaurant of the Year Award 2010, by Tommy Miah's International Chef of the Year Competition and Hospitality Excellence Award.
For anyone visiting Bangladesh or for anyone who loves Bangladeshi food, a meal at Kasturi is a must. — The Daily Star (Bangladesh)