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The spread of biryani, chicken 65, and naan at Aladdin Sweets & Cafe.

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This Stretch of Conant Avenue Is a Bangladeshi Feast

Eat all the biryani on a crawl through Banglatown

Welcome to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Detroit staffers guide you (virtually) on various food crawls in the metro Detroit area. When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time. On some occasions we seek out a specific dish or drink, while on others we might explore a style of cuisine special to a neighborhood. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

Welcome to Banglatown, home to one of the largest Bangladeshi communities in the United States. Over the past 30 years or so, Bangladeshi immigrants have been settled down in this neighborhood straddling the border of Hamtramck and Detroit. The area has been bolstered by an influx of businesses from grocery stores to sari shops catering to Southeast Asian residents and the variety of restaurants clustered together along main thoroughfares make it a particularly good spot to sample Bangladeshi cuisine.

Bangladesh is located east of India and shares a similar flavor palette to Indian foods, while also specializing in recipes using fish. Bangladeshis also take pride in their dessert-making techniques, and the resulting delicate homemade sweets called mishti in Bangla are often prominently featured in the names of restaurants.

For this crawl, Eater’s team took a stroll up Conant Avenue — which between Harold and Davison Streets is known as Bangladesh Avenue — in search of biryani, curry, and more. Bangladeshi foods are best enjoyed with friends and family. All the restaurants featured foods starting at $1, with main courses in the $10 range. Here, we start and Aladdin Sweets & Cafe and work our way down to Reshmi. Oh yeah, and it’s fine to eat with your hands.

Stats from this food crawl:
Number of stops: 3
Distance: 0.1 mile
Plates of biryani ordered: 2
Number of hours spent on food crawl: 3

Biryani and Chicken 65 at Aladdin Sweets & Café

11945 Conant St., Hamtramck

The main dining room at Aladdin in Hamtramck.
A woman scoops bright red cubes of chicken with onions and cilantro onto a plate with a metal spoon.
A helping of chicken 65 at Aladdin in Hamtramck.
Michelle and Chris Gerard

Aladdin Sweets & Café is known for its endless supply of desserts. This local community favorite opened its doors in 1998, serving an extensive Bangladeshi menu and a reliable daily buffet where customers can fill up on curries and rice. On this visit, we went for two chicken dishes — chicken biryani and the somewhat mysteriously numbered chicken 65 — as well as a plate of naan.

At Aladdin, the chicken biryani comes out in a heaping, saffron-yellow pile. The flavorful rice dish features cooked chicken, minced herbs, spices for an aromatic pop of flavor. The chunky pieces of chicken are complemented by crispy tendrils of onion. The bright-red chicken 65 is features chunks of chicken, chilis, onions, and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. It tastes best when eaten with with naan. Ask for lemon slices on the side to tone down the flame.

Goat Curry and Chicken Tikka Biryani at Bonoful Sweets & Café

12085 Conant St., Hamtramck

The spread at Bonoful Sweets & Cafe, a Bangladeshi restaurant in Hamtramck.
Bonoful’s dining room features alcoves with booths and colorful light displays.

Bonoful, whose name means a “bouquet of flowers,” features a glam dining room with colorful lights, chandeliers, and secluded booths tucked into individual alcoves for a little extra privacy. The order here included chicken tikka biryani (a slight variation on the chicken biryani), goat curry with a rich gravy, vegetable curry, and a basket of fresh, buttery naan. The biryani at Bonoful is a particularly good version with thinly sliced poultry is tender and evenly incorporated into every bite of rice

Rupchanda, Korma, and Barfi at Reshmi Sweets & Cafe

12170 Conant St., Detroit

Rupchanda, rice, and chicken korma at Reshmi in Detroit.
Aloo chop features deep fried mashed potatoes with cilantro.

This restaurant has a homey feel of a converted diner with plenty of elbow space to bring a family. Being located next to a sari store, a doctor’s office, pharmacy, and a home care office, Reshmi is, in short, spot for a bite after taking care of business. Fans of potatoes, should try an aloo chop — a Bangladeshi ball of deep fried mashed potatoes that’s blended with cilantro. The warm, soft appetizer comes with a platter of ketchup, tamarind sauce, and other dips for dressing it up.

For people who are trying Bangladeshi food for the first time but are wary of spice levels, korma is a good place to start. Chicken korma is a sweet and savory dish is made with a yogurt or cream base. It is also eaten with rice and comes with raisins, called kismis in Bangla.

No survey of Bangladeshi cuisine is complete without a taste of fish curry and Reshmi’s menu features several styles. The table decided to go with an order of the rupchanda (also known as Chinese silvery pomfret fish), which can be pan-fried or served as a curry. We went for the latter. Fish curry is best eaten with white rice. Use your hands to pull out the easy-to-spot large bones. The curry is made with onion, tomatoes, chili pepper, and curry powders for a mild sauce.

Barfi and malai curry sweets at Reshmi.

Finish off the meal with an order of pistachio and cardamom-flecked barfi and malai curry sweets, two milk and sugar-based desserts that can be eaten at the table or ordered in a pack to-go. With three big restaurant meals under our belts, it’s time to tote some leftovers home.

All Eater Guides Coverage [ED]

Aladdin Sweets & Cafe

11945 Conant Street, , MI 48212 (313) 891-8050 Visit Website

Bonoful Sweets & Coffee

12085 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI 48212 (313) 368-8800

Reshmi Sweets & Cafe

12170 Conant Street, , MI 48212 (313) 366-2425 Visit Website