To many, the idea of consuming uncooked fish can still be daunting, while others will jokingly refer to the adage “machhe bhaate Bangalee” -- implying that the Bengali love for fish and rice combo has found another outlet through sushi.
Regardless of the reason, over the last decade or so, the Japanese staple has earned its position among the most popular non-local foods -- alongside burger and pizza -- in Dhaka.
As Dhaka becomes the next hub of multi-cultural and diverse gastronomical experiences, sushi is no longer reserved just for special occasions, or even considered as expensive of a meal as it used to be.
That being said, a consistency still prevails at the heart: if one is out on the prowl for good sushi, one must also be willing to shell out the dough.
According to working mother, Faria Islam, “I was introduced to sushi during my NSU days. Back then, there weren't many options. Going out for sushi was indeed a big deal!”
But gone are the days when going out for sushi meant feeling great and lighter not just in the heart because of the great company, but in the wallet as well. In addition to that, sushi -- in Dhaka at least -- has also taken the fusion route.
These days, sushi is affordable even on a student's budget with platters starting at Tk 300.
“If I'm in the mood for a quick bite or craving something on the spicier but less oily side, nothing satisfies taste buds as much as a plate of fusion maki rolls,” said Zoheb Akhter, a graduate fresh out of IUB.
Although nothing beats the authentic and humble sashimi, maki or nigiri rolls with a dash of wasabi, and finished off with a dip in soy sauce, their western counterparts -- like California, Philadelphia, deep fried maki, dragon or even flaming Alaskan rolls -- are just as scrumptious.
“Sushi hits all the right spots without making you feel guilty about eating out. But nothing beats the fusion rolls. It has rice, fish, a dash of cream cheese or mayo, a hint of some kind of spicy dip maybe, and even avocado at times,” said Maisha Rahman, a soon-to-be university student.
“It also takes care of those bhaat (rice) cravings if I may say so,” she said smilingly.
Restaurants are offering a wide range of fusion sushi tailored to satisfy Bengali taste buds with the perfect hit of spice to rice ratio.
With plenty of room to experiment, it comes as no surprise that sushi dishes now include components such as mangoes, a Japanese seven spice mix, or even local ingredients.
Sushi is versatile in terms of where and who you plan to share a meal with. From formal dinners and lunches to a night out with family or friends, depending on budget, foodies can pick and choose which restaurant they want to visit.
There are plenty of “fish and rice” places in Dhaka to opt for!