Hongbao’s most delicious sweets come from land and sea
Hongbao is one of the top rated dining options in Dhaka for good reason. You get five-star service, ambience, and quality food without the hassle and gatekeeping of an elite restaurant. Reservations are really easy to make and you will be greeted at your table with a personalized printed nameplate.
The vast majority of Dhakaias are either reluctant to patronize the establishment or have yet to catch the hype, as such walk-in diners are quickly welcomed. Some would find the ambience and clientele a little intimidating, but the staff and waiters brush it off with their genuine hospitality.
The restaurant operates from noon to 3:30 p.m. and then from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day. Kudos to the management and head chef Jai Ram Pariyar for the way they run their operation, prep time is at the heart of any kitchen and the kitchen staff taking their time to prepare for lunch services and dinner shows up during the hours when they are open.
Service is subtle and prompt, turnaround time for any type of order (unless you order the steak) is less than 15 minutes. Each server knows all the dishes and ingredients intimately, while the kitchen staff are very cooperative with dietary restrictions and food allergies. As soon as you’re seated, you’re served a shot of lemonade with chunks of lychee and some pickled carrots and cucumbers to cleanse your palette before the feast.
Hongbao caters to all the desired flavor profiles available in the main kitchen. You can never go wrong with hearty soup and filling dumplings or their wide range of chicken dishes prepared in a variety of styles that are emblematic of some Southeast Asian cuisine staples. Hongbao’s most delicious treats come from land and sea.
Lemongrass Crispy Fried Mushrooms is a bright and light starter featuring a mixed platter of shiitake mushrooms, royal trumpet and white buttons fried with tangy lemongrass that seals in the heat and locks in the appetizer’s juicy moisture . It is served with a perfectly balanced, tangy and spicy dip. If you and your friends are proficient with chopsticks, this dish can serve as a communal starter without the added burden of piling portions on your plate.
Seafood is where Hongbao excels, there is no other dining experience in the capital that can match the flavor profile and freshness of this restaurant’s seafood section. Their fish selection is impeccable and will definitely make you think about how they got such fresh fish on your plate so quickly. The chilli and garlic shrimp with mantou rolls is a perfect synthesis of the kitchen staff’s mastery over seafood. toban are balanced with light, fluffy and slightly sweet steamed mantou buns. The finger-length prawns hit your tongue with the perfect twist, while the mantou buns drenched in the thick, oil-free sauce fill your stomach with enough for the whole day.
If you’re the less adventurous type and want to be absolutely sure of what you’re paying for, TBS recommends ordering one of their Szechuan-style dishes. Do you remember the sweet and sour shrimp dumplings from your family outings to Chinese restaurants? Hongbao’s Szechuan Pepper Shrimp is the gentrified version of this and is guaranteed to give you that signature taste of nostalgia.
This really comes as no surprise given that Bangladeshis are unofficially recognized around the world for having some of the best adaptations of Szechuan style cuisine. One of the best Sichuan restaurants in the world is run by a Bangladeshi in New York and featured by rapper/chef Action Bronson. Chef Jai Ram Pariyar defends this reputation magnificently.
Szechuan Pepper Prawns are crispy, crunchy, and juicy prawns encompassing the flavor profiles of basil and cilantro leaves, water chestnuts, and Sichuan peppercorns. The dish is served in a crispy edible bowl made from rice flour. Once you and your cohorts are done with the shrimp, you can break off a piece of the szechuan sauce-soaked bowl for a reminder of the dish you just ate.
If price isn’t a barrier to your culinary options, TBS recommends you go for the Sparkling Cod, it will awaken your inner Bangalee and is definitely worth an upload to your social media feed.
Hongbao’s interior design is the perfect example of the ideal restaurant. The lighting is relaxing and the decor gives an air of sophistication without being garish or obtrusive. The ambience has been carefully designed to facilitate conversation and recharge the human battery. The only complaint we would have is that whoever is in charge of the restaurant’s playlist needs to be informed that this is not a foreign mall from five years ago. The joint exudes hospitality and class, the music played in the establishment should reflect this.
Most of the food in town leaves you with a feeling of “why did I pay so much money to feel so disgusting?”. A dining experience at Hongbao would be the exact opposite of that; you can feel the pure, fresh nutrition seeping into your body as soon as you leave the establishment while having peripheral thoughts about your next visit.