A new restaurant specializing in food from Bangladesh opened its doors today at 5169 Lee Highway.
Aladdin, in the Garden City Shopping Center near the Yorktown neighborhood, opened for lunch today with a limited menu, owner Harun Rashid said. He is planning a grand opening on Sept. 1.
Rashid and his wife, Shiuli, opened their first restaurant in 1994 in New York City. After a few years there, they moved to Atlanta, then to Rockville. They sold their restaurant in Maryland and signed their lease in Arlington in May.
He didn’t initially plan to have a soft opening before Sept. 1, but he said many of his Bangladeshi friends “were getting frustrated” that they couldn’t eat at the restaurant yet.
“We’re eager to see the local crowds,” Rashid said. “Most of our customers are American and have our lunch buffet. They love it here. In Georgia, they just go to Waffle House, Waffle House, Waffle House all the time and don’t try anything else.”
The buffet is open from noon to 3 p.m. and costs $9, Rashid said. Aladdin’s specialty, however, is the Kachi Biryani, a slow-cooked, lamb delicacy they only serve on Saturday that customers need to call and order in advance. Rashid said he already has an order for five dishes from an former Maryland customer this Saturday.
“We think we make the most authentic Biryani,” he said. “It takes six hours in total to make, and we won’t reheat it. It’s a very expensive, very tender meat, and a very unique cooking process.”
Bengali food is very similar to Indian food, Rashid said, but there are subtle differences in its texture and spice. Rashid’s two children were sitting quietly in the restaurant Thursday morning when he spoke to ARLnow.com. He emphasized that it’s a family-owned and operated establishment and he hopes to build ties to the area.
“I’m very proud to be part of the Bangladeshi community here,” Rashid said.