When an Americanized cuisine like “Chinese” or “Indian” or “Thai” becomes popular, countless restaurants pop up to sell it and trying to pick a favorite for each cuisine is often an exercise in splitting hairs. (Pro tip: Judge any place based on its rice.)
Usually, a restaurant truly distinguishes itself by on-point seasoning and investing in quality ingredients. This is the approach at Bengal Grill, a new Indian-Bangladeshi restaurant on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.
Co-owner Rashad Hossain recently told us one example of his investment in quality can be found in the naan bread.
“Our tandoori naan is very good; better than other places that try to save money on ingredients,” Hossain said. “To make naan dough, a lot of people use water as their liquid. We don’t use water. We use milk and yogurt. It costs more but it’s worth it.”
You can literally taste the difference. The naan at Bengal Grill has great seasoning, but that seasoning is anchored by dairy fat and solids that aren’t found in water.
Bengal Grill also separates itself by featuring Bengladehsi food. Located just to the east of India, Bangladesh was extremely unstable in the 1970s and 1980s, and many Bengladeshis immigrated to New York City during that time. (Sadly, we’re seeing history repeat itself in a country just to the west of India…)
Over the past couple decades, New York City property values have been driven up by gentrification, and many Bengladeshi families have found themselves being priced out and forced to move to smaller, more affordable cities like Buffalo or Niagara Falls.
Often, Bengladeshi families living in NYC will buy a cheap house in Buffalo or Niagara Falls that has fallen into disrepair. Then, they will slowly fix it up while remaining in New York, ultimately moving into the property once it is up to their standards.
Hossain, who lives in Colorado Springs and has managed hospitality properties across the country, says he’s noticed the influx from downstate, and it’s a big reason why he and his partners opened Bengal Grill. However, the owners aren’t just seeing support from local Bangladeshis.
“Of course, my community is going to come out to try our food, but I’ve gotten a lot of response from the white community living around Delaware Avenue,” he said. “So, the Kenmore people support me a lot, a lot.”
Taste the food at Bengal Grill and it’s easy to see why. Veggie samosas (3 for $5) came out of the kitchen as massive, spicy, crispy prisms. The gyro platter ($12) was as familiar and comforting as an old episode of The Office. The butter ($2) and garlic ($2.99) naan were pillowy and chewy, except where it was vulcanized by the tandoor. A Bengladeshi dish called beef tehani ($11) was like beef biryani’s spicy, more interesting cousin.
We had water to drink, but there are a number of soft drinks, tea and milkshake options on the menu. Dessert options include ice cream novelties, puddings, baklava and a South Asian fried donut called golub jamon.
There is a ton of variety on offer at Bengal Grill and Hossain said he actually plans to expand the food options. Most notably, he’s looking to bring in a hot rock grill option that lets customers cook their own meat on a rock heated to searing temperatures.
“My current focus is to offer variety,” he said. “It’ll take time, but we’ll keep working on it.”
Opening Hours: Daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
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