At one time, in Chattogram, food items such as chicken fry, chicken stick, beef chaap, grilled chicken and burgers, were only available at posh restaurants or upscale fast food joints or franchises.
But in the last decade, these have become street food items sold at sidewalk food courts across the port city. Every afternoon, people from all walks of life and society throng these food courts in a festive mood for the delicious street foods.
The Bihari community of Jhautola in Chattogram played a key role in popularising street food in the city and all kinds of street foods are available at reasonable prices in Jhautola. Chicken chaap, grilled chicken, jhal fry and beef stick, sell for Tk40-Tk90. Delicious cow bone halim and beef halim are available at Tk70-Tk100.
In the last few years, more than 50 street food shops have sprung up around Finlay Square shopping mall's Gate Number 2 in the city. Small shops and restaurants have also been set up in Biplob Udyan, close to the shopping mall.
Delicious foods from biryani, burgers, kebabs, pasta, and different chicken and beef items, to various juices, soups and coffees, are sold here. From afternoon to night, the place is crowded.
There are also more than 50 street food shops near the Sanmar Ocean City in GEC area of the city. Crispy piyaju with chickpea and puffed rice are popular here, alongside aloo puri (boiled potatoes with flour and spices), aloor dom (spicy curried potatoes), bhel puri (puffed rice mixed with vegetables and sauce), halim, and biryani.
There are now street food shops in the CRB area of the city also. The shops here open in the evening, selling noodles, fuchka-chatpati and various fried foods popular here.
Corporate offices in the Agrabad area are a hub for street food shops as well. Chicken chaap, jhal fry, chicken fry are available here for Tk50-Tk60, and biryani is sold from vans for lunch in the afternoon. Egg buns made of fried eggs and bread with chilli chutney are also served here.
Street food shops have also sprung up in Halishahar, Alangkar, New Market, Anderkilla Shilpakala, Patenga, EPZ, Chawkbazar, Bahaddarhat, New Bridge, Jamal Khan, and other neighbourhoods of the port city.
Food courts of new and novel street foods truly come alive in the evening into the night. Biryani goes for Tk20-Tk80 from rickshaw-vans, from evening into the early dawn hours on different streets of the city.
One of the specialties of street food is the open kitchen. At street food shops in Chattogram, hot dishes are made and served in front of customers making it all the more attractive for clients. With open kitchens serving up freshly cooked food, food courts in the city are attracting more and more customers day by day.
This approach has been adopted by different hotels and restaurants also. The kitchens of hotels and restaurants were once hidden from public view. Over the past decade, that has changed. A number of more traditional restaurants have adopted this open kitchen feature of street food stands, with grilled chicken cooking, and piping hot large cauldrons of biryani, positioned in front of restaurants to attract customers.