26 April 2010
Banoful Restaurant & Sweets Review ~ Bangladeshi - Frederick Street, Rockdale
An amazing Bangladeshi curry house. Kids and zombies welcome.
A few weeks ago we drove past a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Rockdale that was jam packed with folks from somewhere in the vicinity of India. We didn't know what it was but just knew it had to be good, we could feel it in out street-foodie bones. Today we had the chance to come back. The place is Banoful Restaurant and Sweets. It is Bangladeshi and it is brilliant.
At first glance I was disappointed with the menu: I only noticed the standards such as butter chicken, vindaloo and chicken tikka masaala. There's nothing wrong with that stuff but that's not what we came for. On closer inspection of the menu I realised we had stumbled upon street food gold. There's many dishes on the menu we had never heard of, it was a joy to be eating outside our usual Asian comfort zone. It was the same sort of wonderful feeling you get when you sit down somewhere overseas and you have no idea what is good to eat, and you have to trust the waiter or your instincts to guide you, or just point and hope for the best. We let the waitress know we were after something a little different and she did a great job helping us choose our feast.
For drinks we had to try the lassis. I went the plain lassi (front) which was lovely and sweet, I'm always a sucker for a yoghurt drink. Miss Chicken went for the borhani: a semi-sweetened lassi with spices (rear). It was weird at first taste but quickly grew on us, savoury and spicy flavours of pepper, cardamom and coriander, like a curry in a glass. Add chicken and vegetables and you could cook dinner in it.
The waitress's first suggestion was lemon chicken curry: secret spices with coconut milk, kafir lime leaf and a touch of lemon. A safe yet rewarding option. $9.90. Even Miss Chicken loved it, she doesn't normally go for the sweeter dishes.
The waitress's second choice was also divine: brain masala, lamb brains cooked in spicy masala gravy. Sounds bad, tastes great. We were secretly pleased that the brains were finely chopped and covered with the masala gravy, if we didn't know it was brains we would never have guessed.
Miss Chicken wisely went to the 'special deal' section at the back of the of the menu and chose the fish. The waitress told us the first one, Shorshe Hilsha, was full of small bones and recommended the rupchanda. This flat fish was cooked in tomatoes, onions, green chilli and coriander, well reduced to an unctuous goop, and was indeed easy to eat as the fish pieces came off one big spine. This also came with an eggplant side dish (one of a selection called bhorta), a small salad, rice and dal. Only $15.90 and enough for two.
The eggplant bhorta blew our minds, we have never tasted anything like it. It had a wasaabi-like flavour, we are guessing it had some horse radish in it, as well as a generous amount of chilli. We google bhorta\bharta later and discovered the magic ingredient is mustard oil.
Even the dal was a cut above with interesting flavours, there were some roasted red chilli floating in there and chunks of tomato. Great for breakfast with a roti, in fact they also had a great looking breakfast menu here as well.
As were eating there was a constant stream of locals coming in for the sweets, which looked sensational, but we were just too full dangnabbit. We'll be back. Oh yes we'll be back.
Banoful is at 2/23 Frederick St Rockdale (over the bridge from Princes Hwy in a Bangladeshi supermarket enclave, near the 7 Eleven). Also at 49 Railway Pd Lakemba.