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Gharer Khabar in Arlington - Report

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Steve Feb 13, 2013 06:20 AM

This is a tiny bangladeshi spot on Lee Hwy in the same strip as Caribbean Grill. Surrounded by dilapidated storefronts, it stands out with its pretty colors and attractive sign. There is another Bangladshi place called Deshi Spice in the same strip.

Gharer Khabar has no printed menu, just a few items scribbled on a chalkboard, though the selection doesn't change.

The key item here is the mughlai paratha, a flaky bread stuffed with egg and scallion. Do not miss this. It is $5 for a very big portion.

I also tried the 'vegetable' which is aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower), very good. Both curries I tried, goat and beef, were good. The food comes out very hot and fresh. A meal of the mughlai paratha and the vegetables will be a ton of food for $8 including tax. Counter Service.

  1. s
    Steve Jul 21, 2013 08:40 AM

    Just wanted to add that, after a few more stops here, have found almost everything to be a resounding success. And each of their curries are distinct - still no menu description available.

    A meal of the mughlai paratha, chotpoti, roast chicken (this is excellent), vegetables (usually alu gobi) and the regular fish curry (not the dry version) and/or goat curry is impressive.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Steve
      m
      Marty L. Jul 21, 2013 10:52 AM

      Selective descriptions on the website:

      http://www.gharerkhabar.com/?page_id=20

      Any idea whether it's a safe bet for Sunday dinner? -- that is say, do we know what Rumpa's day off might be?

      1. re: Marty L.
        s
        Steve Jul 21, 2013 11:11 AM

        Thanks for the link. No idea about Sunday. They are often out of select dishes (I have never had the dal there; they always seem to be out), so it's best not to have your heart set on anything in particular.

      2. re: Steve
        luckyfatima Jul 21, 2013 11:31 AM

        It's Ramadan right now, but I will try to go there after Eid. We could try for a CH meet up if you are interested.

        1. re: luckyfatima
          s
          Steve Jul 21, 2013 12:09 PM

          After Eid, I'll be back in town from the 13th to the 16th and from the19th on.

          1. re: Steve
            t
            thistle5 Jul 21, 2013 12:19 PM

            I'd be interested in joining you guys, sounds yummy...if you pick a date, let me know....

            1. re: thistle5
              s
              Steve Jul 22, 2013 05:29 AM

              My email is in my profile. We usually do most planning offline.

          2. re: luckyfatima
            b
            bmorecupcake Jul 22, 2013 09:44 PM

            I wouldn't go in Ramadan. We were driving up from North Carolina last week. Absolutely starving, we stopped by here to break our fast and were still underwhelmed by the food. I suspect maybe during Ramadan they are cooking a lot larger quantities and/or pre-cooking far in advance.

            We were split on the mughlai paratha, but we didn't really like anything else. Maybe the dry fish should be listed as "dried" fish. I'm not certain, but the dish didn't seem that dry to me, and the texture reminded me of dried fish. I have no issue eating the bones and all, and I'd eat this version at someone's house, but I didn't find it a good enough version to warrant purchase. I generally enjoy the flavor profile of turmeric offset by chilis and can imagine it being better executed. The samosas fillings had an interesting sour/tangy note, which was a nice break from the usual samosa flavor. The shami kabobs were very plain, but that was our fault. The owner informed us that the shami kabobs are meant to be eaten with biryani. Nothing else stands out to me at the moment. We'll try again after Ramadan.

            It was a bad food day in general. All our stops in Eden Center were already closed. We then headed to Pupatella and watched in amazement as pizza after pizza was served with burnt crust (not leopard spots, more like tiger stripes.)

            1. re: bmorecupcake
              s
              Steve Jul 22, 2013 10:18 PM

              Aside from the paratha, I guess you got things I wouldn't try again: dried fish, shami kabob, and samosas. Everyone seems to like the mughlai paratha, though. Could have been a bad time. But sounds like you had little choice and they didn't come through very well.

              1. re: Steve
                b
                bmorecupcake Jul 23, 2013 10:29 AM

                I can't remember exactly what else we got. It's all a blur these days (long fasts.) I think we also had tehari. It was okay, but nothing memorable enough to recommend on Chowhound.

        2. s
          Steve Apr 12, 2013 11:23 AM

          Just wanted to add that they do change up some of the chalkboard menu from time to time. Order the chotapri ( I think that's how they spelled it), a simple chaat of yellow split peas or lentils tossed with raw onion and cilantro, and some very delicate and flaky pastry crisps. A touch of tamarind sauce is added. ($3).

          Along with the muglai paratha, a simple and very good meal for two.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve
            luckyfatima Apr 13, 2013 06:26 AM

            Might be chotpoti. It is a Bengali style chaat.

            1. re: luckyfatima
              s
              Steve Apr 13, 2013 07:36 AM

              Yes, that's it. I feel like such a rookie.

          2. Dennis S Feb 21, 2013 05:43 AM

            Finally made it there yesterday. Raja is the husband who runs it and we talked for a good 10-20 minutes while my food was prepared.

            First, the mughlai paratha - if the place were open for breakfast I'd have this nearly every day (I don't think it's a good business model for them - just saying how good this dish is). I got everything to go, so I snacked on this dish on the way home. And at home. And....

            Second, I got the goat biryani. flavorful as all get out. Wonderful dish. On the spices, I said not to dumb it down, and for Marty's account I wonder how close our experiences were. There seemed to be two kinds of peppers/chilies in there. One was green, full bodied, small and cut in half. The other were slivers of some red chili or pepper. Both had a good taste and both had spice. The briyani itself did not have spice, but since it's layered at the end (as opposed to the pullao), that may be the reason (just guessing).

            He did speak about the dry fish. And while I was there two ladies came in to order the dry fish among other things.

            He also said they had a chutney similar to Reston Kabob. I was supposed to get some, but I think the failure was on he and I both (wrapped in conversation).

            He favorably mentioned Charcoal Kabob, fwiw. We had talked about how India isn't one thing (like China, Mexico, US, etc). He said he wanted to open a true Bangladeshi place - tired of going to NYC for such food.

            For anyone new to this thread, there's a decent enough dining area, and it's a very inviting place. GO. SOON.

            1. m
              Marty L. Feb 17, 2013 02:35 PM

              This is very promising. The mughlai paratha is very good, indeed (but note that there is meat inside, too -- beef, I believe). Easily enough for three/four people for an appetizer.

              Chicken biryani also very good, as was the goat curry. Best of all was the channa dal, not on the menu. All of this and a couple of other, small items, too, for about $20. One of the best deals in town.

              I have a nagging sense, however, that perhaps this place, like other Bangladeshi spots I've tried, is going to have issues with spicing. My experience has been that even though it's very homey fare, this cuisine can be transcendent when there's the right mix, and volume, of spices -- or that was the case, anyway, at the long lost Mina's in Queens, one of the most magical restaurants I've been to in the past few years. But that it's a very difficult, complex balance to strike.

              Last night, everything was very tasty -- as I said, a ridiculous bargain by any standards -- but I was yearning for just a bit more revelation in the spicing, something that transforms the dishes out of the ordinary. That's obviously not what the chef (the wife of the couple) was shooting for, however. Don't know if it was because we were Anglo diners or because this is how she usually cooks the fare; but I had the distinct sense there was more lurking there there than met the eye (or tongue). Definitely a place where I think they'd be amenable if you asked them to provide "authentic" spicing -- they're really very nice, and aim to please.

              Having said that, here's the rub . . . . Although the dishes were not very spicy, there were a few chilis in the mix, which provided a nice background buzz, and . . . the two people I was dining with both had a rather shocking awakening when they (presumably) ended up with a pepper directly on their tongue (they looked to be in the habanero family), something that caused a slow and intense burn over many minutes! If the food had generally been very spicy, they probably would have been prepared for it -- but it came out of nowhere. I really hope they don't "tone it down" for the non-Bangladeshi eaters -- if anything, it needs more (or more complex) spicing -- but perhaps it could be better integrated, so that it's not all-or-nothing in any particular bite. (Having said that, I'm woefully ignorant of this cuisine, so perhaps I'm way off base here. Feel free to chime in.)

              4 Replies
              1. re: Marty L.
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                Steve Feb 17, 2013 06:38 PM

                Thanks for your detailed reply. I am surprised about the meat in the muglai paratha.

                I agree with everything you said. It's all good, and an outstanding bargain.

                I didn't get the impression that they held back for me or would change the spicing unless someone asked, but I don't know for sure.

                There was a thick piece of bark (from some kind of plant) in my goat curry that I didn't recognize. Maybe someone else knows what it might have been.....

                1. re: Steve
                  luckyfatima Feb 17, 2013 07:03 PM

                  I would guess it was cassia bark.

                2. re: Marty L.
                  s
                  Steve Apr 12, 2013 11:25 AM

                  BTW, didn't Mina move to Manhattan on that street with at least six Indian restaurants?

                  1. re: Steve
                    Mississippi Snopes Jul 21, 2013 04:47 PM

                    There is a new, impressively large Bangla grocery that opened in the same shopping center as Gharer Khabar (down toward the Caribbean Grill). I was talking to the owner about a month ago (the day it opened) and he said the space next door was being prepared to be opened as a Bangla restaurant by someone who used to run or cook at what he said was a famous Bangla restaurant in Jackson Heights. Could that have been Mina's?

                    From the size of the space, I'd guess the new restaurant will be considerably more upscale than Gharer Khabar.

                    One thing I appreciated about Gharer Khabar on my one visit there is that the owner let me order the dry fish without warning me about it. He came over to ask my wife and me how we liked the meal -- and we liked everything except the dry fish, which we expected not to like given the descriptions on the Internet but wanted to try just to see. He said, "I thought you probably wouldn't like it, but it seemed like you knew what you were doing. Did you read Tyler Cowen's review?" (I had.)

                    I like that approach much better than the more common approaches of either claiming to out of something on the menu or dumbing it way down so that it won't offend Americans.

                3. s
                  shortorder Feb 17, 2013 07:42 AM

                  Thanks for the report. I noticed this new place a couple of weeks ago. I will try it soon. I won't miss Deshi Spice, which I tried once, unmemorably.

                  1. luckyfatima Feb 15, 2013 03:54 PM

                    Sounds exciting! Gharer khabar means home food in Bangla :D (I did a development internship in Dhaka some years ago and can speak a bit of Bengali :D)

                    What about a hound meet up there for some Bengali food?

                    Just scoped out their reviews on Yelp! and saw they have foochka (Bengali style pani puri), borhani (like a spiced thin lassi), tehari (like a pullao) and shaami kabab...would like to know if they have any classic Bangladeshi fish dishes on the menu, also. Must go soon!!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: luckyfatima
                      s
                      Steve Feb 15, 2013 05:08 PM

                      They have a fish curry and a dry fish. That's all the chalkboard says, no further explanation or specifics. I'll ask the next time I drop by. The chalkboard lists pullao, as well.

                    2. alkapal Feb 14, 2013 06:53 PM

                      deshi spice is closed, which i suppose you know. there is going to be a halal indian store in there.

                      i'll look for this new spot.

                      1. Dennis S Feb 13, 2013 08:56 AM

                        Sounds good. I was just contemplating my dinner options for tonight.

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