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Feb 13, 2013 06:20 AM

Gharer Khabar in Arlington - Report

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.

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

    1. 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. 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

          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. 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. 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.

              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

                I would guess it was cassia bark.

              2. re: Marty L.

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

                1. re: Steve

                  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.