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Boston Area Cambridge

Bengal Cafe, near Davis Sq., Cambridge and other eats

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Restaurants & Bars

Bengal Cafe, near Davis Sq., Cambridge and other eats

Limster | Sep 12, 2004 05:35 PM

A new place run by what looks like a Bangladeshi family. A fair number familiar dishes from Bengali/Bangladeshi. They serve Muslim food, so you'll see beef dishes that aren't that common in Indian places as they are mostly Hindu.

Bangan bhartha is served chilled, with a very sharp mustard flavour that I reallyed enjoyed (Bengalis use more mustard, green chilli and ciltantro than most other indian cooking in my experience). The very soft eggplant is also enhanced by sparing bits of chilli, nice chirps from chopped onions and cilantro. Very small portion for $1.75 but worth trying, and just right as a side. Chicken curry's ok, more mild and lighter than the usual thick curries from other regions. Next time, I'd ask for extra spicy, as Bengalis use quite a bit of those green long chillis, and I would have liked a bit more of that kind of spicy smoky flavour.

They humbly concede that they don't have a professional chef like Royal India and are probably not as good, but it's home cooking that's not bad at all and the folks are very friendly and gracious. I'd give them a try if I was in the neighbourhood; fairly reasonable prices (got chicken curry, bangan bharta, lassi and a malai chum chum for dessert - $9.95 w/o tip). I think they got the chum chum from the nearby Foodland this time but they said that they plan to make desserts in house in the near future.

The menu's kinda plain, lists many things as just fish curry ot beef curry etc... But it's probably worth probing -- the fish curry come with either hilsa (a bengali favourite), tilapia or salmon. If I go next time I'd probably try to do a better job of ordering by asking for more specifically Bengali items.

This place is located in the block south from Cafe Barada on Mass Ave, and just north of Pemberton farms (which btw, sells very nice mint choc sandwich cookie at their bakery counter, forgot to ask if they make it there or source it externally).

Other things:

Coast Cafe makes a very good banana bread. I always wish all banana breads had a riper banana flavour, and this one is no exception; but it doe shave the perfect balance of crumb and softness and the right level of moisture. Fried catfish is good for the area. I have no serious complaints about the sides (mac & cheese & collards), although more breadcrumbs and cream on the mac n' cheese would not be bad and I have a general preference for a more porky flavour on the collards even though the smoked turkey wasn't bad at all.

I really like the freshly toasted and buttered bread at Alive & Kicking lobsters, and the lobster is very sweet, but I personally prefer big chunks of lobster with minimal mayo.

The baklava at Cafe Barada (Mass Ave, near Davis Sq) is ok, but nowhere as good as Reef's.

Disappointed with the previously good Teochew-style sweet and sour pork at Ho Yuen Ting. Previously, they used a complement of pickles and preserved sour plums to make the sauce tangy in a really complex way. But when I had it recently, only pickled ginger remained. Don't know if it's a one time deal or a permanent recipe change. The sour plum's essential, so I was bummed.

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