Homelawn St., Jamaica
9 a.m. to midnight, every day
a restaurant on Homelawn Street just off Hillside Avenue that despite its
recent expansion, catering business and corporate connections, is one of
the most authentic South Asian food experiences around.
Restaurant, which is backed by a wholesale food company in Bangladesh and
recently opened a second New York store on Parsons Boulevard, makes food
that’s no different from what you’d find at a Bengali home.
description applies to both taste and presentation.
the presentation: You need to be a bit of an insider to order easily at
restaurant has a menu, but it’s often not available.
It’s no problem for most of Banoful’s customers, regulars who
know what they want and don’t need descriptions.
prices structure is low and simple: most entrees are under $5 per person,
and most sides are less than $2 per person.
restaurant serves a rotating list of home-style Bengali foods.
what makes Banoful’s food home-style as opposed to restaurant-style?
most South Asian restaurants go easy on the spices and seasonings, Banoful
isn’t afraid to pull back.
It’s food is more pungent.
real home-style touches, like whole chili peppers floating in the curry,
add to the effect.
top things off, utensils are optional at Banoful; a recent order of
curried meat with rice was served without a fork.
Though it’s rare to see in public, and many young people shun the
practice even at home, the traditional South Asian way to eat is with your
bare fingers and the food at Banoful is perfect for the act.
are typically about eight entrees available at any given time at Banoful
and, like at home, the selection always changes.
food tends to be very simply prepared, usually with nothing but a single
main ingredient enhanced by some spiced curry.
a recent visit, some of the choices included pilaf rice and biryani rice,
which are spiced variations of regular white rice, curried beef, curried
chicken, curried catfish, chicken kebab and a vegetarian dish made with
potatoes and a popular Asian legume called corolla.
a bitter vegetable that falls in the “acquired taste” category, is
hated by some and loved by others.
Doctors say it does wonders for cleaning your blood.
restaurant also sells common fried snacks, like samosas, which are lumps
of vegetables or meat that are wrapped in thin sheets of flour and
whose parent company does a brisk business selling desserts back in
Bangladesh, follows suit here.
restaurant has two refrigerators selling almost two dozen kinds of sweets,
available in any combination for about $4 per pound.
impossible to translate their names, so we’ll tell you their
ingredients: most of the sweets are made with some combination of milk,
sugar and food coloring.
pistachio, almond and other nuts are also used extensively, so check your
allergies at the door.
serving some of the most authentic Bengali food in Southeast Queens,
Banoful, which opened in October 2001, is also a community center of
30-seat restaurant, which has a lot of open space on its floor, was host
to a Bengali community fundraiser for Councilman David Weprin last year,
and more recently held informational workshops for Bangladeshis having to
register their immigration status under recent “war on terrorism”
delivers in the area, and does a serious catering and wholesale business
a recent visit, an entire van was being loaded with sweets for local
grocery stores to sell.
you’re looking for a simple, authentic Bengali meal for very little
money, you don’t have to look farther than Banoful.