Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: Dhaka Biriyani

The Best Biriyani in East London

Dhaka Biryani on Mile End Road
(Yes, it seems we disagree over the
spelling of biriyani)

Dhaka Biryani is right on Mile End road, and the name makes it hard to miss if you're Bangladeshi. I've walked past several times while promising myself that I'll visit, and spending the day with friends in East London last weekend provided the perfect excuse. This review will be short and sweet, much like the others that I've done for Bangladeshi eateries in London. And just like these other places, Dhaka Biryani is a casual venue, serving up food from a counter with some basic chairs and tables laid out over a small space. In fact, despite the smart facade Dhaka Biryani is probably the most basic of the Bangladeshi places I've been to, including the shop-cum-eatery Amar Gaon. But like Amar Gaon, I'd encourage you not be deceived by looks, as the food here is excellent.

My kacchi biriyani

Biriyani, it will come as no surprise, is the main event here. We asked what had been cooked on the day, and were told that it was kacchi. So we ordered three servings - thinking we'd need one for each of us. It turned out that we'd massively underestimated the portion sizes, but the dish was so good I don't think any of us regretted the decision. The biriyani was obviously fresh - exhibiting none of that dryness that comes from reheating. The cuts of meat within the rice were of good quality, and generously apportioned. The dish was spiced exactly how I would expect kacchi to be back home, and even served as per Dhaka tradition with an egg on top. Unsurprisingly, it was also rich and heavy, and so not the kind of dish I'd recommend eating everyday.  

Our feast
Top right, Bengali pot roast chicken
In the small bowls, our daals and mixed vegetables
Middle left, beef curry
Bottom right, mango lassis

Of course, we didn't stop at biriyani. Determined to try as much of the menu as possible, we ordered single portions of Bengali pot roast chicken, beef curry and fried fish as additionals. Realising that we were in feasting mode, the staff also offered us a selection of daals and mixed vegetables to go with our food. Most of these were just as good as the biriyani. The beef curry was exemplary - and I'd come back to have just that with plain boiled rice. The chicken was probably equally commendable, but I'm particularly biased to my mom's recipe for Bengali roast, and can't rate this version as highly. The mixed vegetables were nice and mushy, and something I'd eagerly have for breakfast or as part of a lighter lunch. The daals, both muug and chana, were respectable. The only real let down was the fried fish, which had that distinct smell fish acquires when it has been frozen and stored too long. I've complained about this at Bangladeshi places before - perishable ingredients don't do well on the trip over to the UK. 

Our slightly disappointing fried fish

And what did all of the above cost? About £32 between the three of us. Breaking it down, that's about £10 for a serving of biriyani, one additional main, one side and a mango lassi. This is incredibly good value for money, and so if you need a good, cheap eat in East London you know where to go. The staff were friendly and efficient, and though it was mostly counter service they dropped by our table later to ask if the food was okay. There was no written menu around that I could see, so you will have to talk to them and find out what's on offer for the day. Dhaka Biryani have a website (see details at the end of the post), but it's under construction and I'm not sure if the menu online is completely accurate. But then again, what do you need the menu for, since you're going here for the biriyani. And honestly, this place seems to be serving the best Bangladeshi-style biriyani that I've been able to find in London so far! 

Food: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

Contact Information
A: 96 Mile End Rd, London E1 4UN
T: +44 (0) 20 7791 2730

NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression the establishment.

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