Utshob: A Culinary Celebration
By Ramisha Anan Rahman
Monolithic cubes of tender beef emitting wisps of smoke on a bed of yellow rice, grains coated in rivulets of a rich gravy – one whiff of the culinary concoction sets our senses on fire, bursting open a package of emotions and memories of home. The heritage of Bangladeshi cuisine, however, seems to have become domesticated to the confines of our homes, with representation of our culture in the commercial food industry taking a backseat to the novelty of foreign cuisines. Utshob, an uber chic restaurant located at various Chef’s Table branches of Unimart, , is primed to change the landscape of the mainstream restaurant industry, with its menu boasting of the dynamic and versatile flavors of Bangladesh. COLORS catches up with Subhabrata Maitra, Food & Beverage (F&B) Consultant of United Group, Yassir Hussain, COO Unimart F&F, United Group, and Mehedi, Head of Brand & Communication, Unimart regarding their visions and missions for the brand that puts Bangladeshi cuisine among the forefront of a saturated food industry.
Flavors of Home
Many of our fondest memories surround the scent of a meal being gently cooked on the stove, the images of a feast with the people who matter the most. Since the dawn of time, families and communities have bonded over delectable morsels of food. Doubtlessly, Bangladeshi food is reminiscent of our grandmother’s hands creating magic on a plate, or of staple meals that are cooked on the daily and have been a part of our lives since we can remember. This also explains the lack of interest given to Bangladeshi cuisine whenever we venture out to satisfy our cravings. Chances are, the homely love that is added in heaps to our favorite Bangladeshi meals is impossible to replicate in restaurants, and with the variety of foreign cuisines popping up at every lane, the eagerness to indulge in flavors different to the ones we encounter at home is expected.
With a transition towards a more industrialized society over the decades, consequently giving rise to more and more time spent outside our homes and less time available to spend cooking, the thought of a plate of familiar food at a moment’s notice is incredibly tempting. In addition, a shift in the favor of nuclear families with parents off to work and students immersed in studies both in and out of school, accessibility to our country’s cuisine is coveted. Utshob aims to nourish the souls of consumers yearning for a homely experience through food which has become difficult to obtain, with a menu that maps the dishes holding an irreplaceable space in our hearts.
Treasures of our Hometowns
In the outskirts of Dinajpur during older times, a traditional rice dish served as a welcoming gift to a new bride. Broken rice, locally known as “Khuder Bhaat” will have you wondering how rice by itself could ever be such a pleasurable mouthful. Derived from the broken remains of rice grains during milling, its heritage has dwindled in the bright lights of city life. Utshob is on the verge of changing that, by bringing the renowned rice dish to Dhaka. Aptly titled “Dinajpur er khuder bhaat”, this dish comes with a colorful array of mashed foods, traditionally known as “bhorta”. These sides complement the real star of the show, the rice, which is unlike any conventional rice dish most people are accustomed to.
Utshob embraces our culinary heritage through a diverse menu, highlighting a plethora of dishes special to particular districts. The piquant taste of duck curry found in Noakhali, to the citrusy succulent flavors of shatkora with beef curry, Utshob provides the tastes familiar beyond Dhaka without the need to travel hundreds of miles. Most of these dishes require a niche expertise in skills unattained by most, and time-consuming to all. The processes that go into making the perfect bowl of Khulna’s Choi Jhaal or Chittagong’s Kala Bhuna often consist of hour-long steps, also making it inconvenient to make once the craving strikes. To satiate your longing, Utshob makes traditional dishes both available and convenient to lose oneself in.
Novelty in Originality
While the restaurant industry has been cooking up a storm in their quest to find a fusion that will cater to the taste buds of those looking for an experimental taste, originality of flavors has also become a rare and lucrative occurrence. Utshob strives to appease the palate with flavors reminiscent of the authentic dishes, just how it was intended to be. In the race for new tastes and crazy combinations, Utshob keeps it simple, providing a bona fide experience of culture through food.
Plate as Pretty as a Picture
The decoration of a dish speaks volumes. With vibrant colors and striking sides placed on clay plates that enhance the rustic feel of a traditional Bangladeshi dish, Utshob aces the aesthetics. Every plate is a sight to behold, and is sure to have you reaching for your phone to frame the gorgeous presentation.
When thinking of heavenly Bangladeshi dishes, images of Puran Dhaka with its hustle and bustle springs to mind. With it comes the dingy alleyways and noisy streets that make up the Old Dhaka experience. While the atmosphere is one to savor with nostalgia, one may wish to have a more relaxing experience in their familiar locations, without having to travel to the heart of the city. In this regard, Utshob makes authentic Bangladeshi food accessible whenever, wherever.
The next time you go searching for comfort food, a taste of home awaits you at Utshob.