Fast food in Dhaka didn't used to be what it is today. Do you remember the first burger you had? Or pizza?
If you were born in the 80s or 90s or even in the new millennium in Dhaka, chances are, you've probably had food from one of these places. If you haven't, then, to get an idea of how fast food was back in the 90s - burgers with cucumbers in them, oily vegetable rolls and not to mention, when food didn't have extortionate price tags - you should try the food from these places below.
Located now in Anam Rangs Plaza in Dhanmondi 6A, this is known for its falooda and 'chicken burger' (basically a chicken sandwich). The fast food joint was established in 1993 and with time, they have added and upgraded their menu.
The chicken burger is exactly what you'd expect it to be; shredded chicken with white sauce and a slice of cheese. But what makes it quintessentially deshi is the few thin slices of cucumber inside. It's not something most burger aficionados would like, but it's a massive dose of nostalgia.
The falooda is a thing of beauty though. In my opinion, it's one of the best you will find in the city. Ice cream, jello, vermicelli, and some nuts on top make this one of the must-haves in the place.
We also tried one of their newer items, fried dory fish with lemon and a white sauce and it was a hit. It's got the looks and sophistication of a modern dish with the dory very nicely cooked and the garlic bread complimenting the dish perfectly.
Food quality: 9/10
Another staple in Satmasjid Road, La Bamba was an integral part of many 90's kids' childhoods for their doughnuts and burgers. We ordered a doughnut, a momo, a beef patty, and a burger.
As expected, the doughnut was all about nostalgia. Not that good in quality - when you think about how fluffy it should be - but just a round bread covered with a layer of chocolate and some cream inside.
It's what many of us grew up having and was our introduction to a doughnut. The momo and patties are what you get everywhere these days, so we should move on to the beef burger.
This is more like a beef kabab than a beef patty, with three slices of bread and some hot ketchup and butter in between. Again, it's not good per se, but it is what it is and a whole lotta nostalgia.
Recently, they have moved to a bigger place on Satmasjid road, now adjacent to Abahani field, and they've also added a lot of Chinese items and kebabs to their menu. We tried their beef kebab, which was pretty good, especially with the butter naan.
Food quality: 6/10
One of the first foreign fast-food franchises that came to Dhaka, this Swiss chain has been there since 1998. Before your BFCs and KFCs, the chicken broast at Helvetia was a crowd favorite.
Over the years, we have to say, the chicken broast has stood the test of time and is still one of the best items there. Tender and juicy are two words food reviewers get mocked for overusing, but that's exactly what should be used to describe the chicken broast. Coupled with a bun and coleslaw, this is a proper meal for one.
We also tried the beef burger and fish filet. The beef burger has a slice of cheese and (unfortunately) a slice of cucumber. The patty is very well made. It's a solid burger without sauce, though the buns could be better and the cucumber could be avoided.
The fish filet is disappointing. It's dry, the boneless Koral fish has an unpleasant smell and it's not something you'd ever spend TK700 on.
Overall, it's still a solid place but some of the prices are a bit too high given what the competition offers.
Food quality: 7/10
Arabian Fast Food
One of the very first places to have pizza on their menu, Arabian Fast Food has been around since 1992. It's still in the same location although the interior and logo have gone through a revamp.
We ordered their Danish Chicken, Four Seasons pizza, a chicken sandwich and cheese fries.
There was a dash of nostalgia in every bite of the chicken. It's not like your usual fried chicken or even the chicken tikka that we're used to having. It's got a unique flavour with a hint of sweetness at the end, which we're sure you're bound to like.
The pizza probably won't be to your liking as the dough and crust don't have the flavour that you're used to. It's more like a naan but with the toppings and everything; it's a solid pizza, especially if you are looking for a bit of nostalgia.
The chicken sandwich is made with a sandwich maker and is pretty good with minced chicken, butter and pepper inside.
Cheese fries have two kinds of cheese - cheddar and mozzarella - melted on top and it's best to eat it while it's hot. A filling, and delicious appetizers.
Food quality: 7/10
A fast food place that has been there since the early 90s as well, Big Bite is located just beside Eastern Plaza.
A bit like Arabian Fast Food, the place has kept its location the same, but has gone through a major renovation and looks like a much more modern establishment with a snazzy interior.
We ordered the club sandwich, chicken fingers, a jumbo beef burger and a falooda.
The club sandwich is what you'd expect, nothing really special, but filled with chicken, butter, tomatoes and egg.
The chicken fingers were interesting as they're fried and have a coat of breadcrumbs, but inside the chicken is minced and soft, with a good amount of spices.
The jumbo beef burger is a double-decker burger with three buns, two patties, two slices of cheese and yes you guessed it - cucumbers! Overall, barring the cucumbers, the burger is decent but nothing special. It's a blast of nostalgia though because it's the same taste that has withstood the test of time.
The falooda is pretty good with ice cream, some fruits on top and Chinese rice at the bottom, but we'd recommend the falooda at Euro Hut.
Food quality: 7/10