Review: Sylhety Lounge

12/12/2022

Alex Chase (he/him) reviews Sylhety Lounge: The Best Bangladeshi in Badger Hill.

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By Alex Chase

Were you to look up Sylhety Lounge on Google, it would tell you it is an ‘Indian restaurant’. Whilst I enjoy Indian food, I should not claim any expertise in it, seeing as I once tried to spice up a Korma by using beef mince, which I’m pretty sure is an act of sacrilege. However, I’m going to make the bold claim that Google is absolutely wrong to call it an ‘Indian Restaurant’. Why? Well for starters, the sign above the door says it is actually ‘Bangladeshi and Sub-continental cuisine’. While there are Indian staples in there such as the Biriyani (although it should be mentioned that it was invented by Iranian immigrants in Mumbai), a lot of the food comes from other countries in the Asian subcontinent and even further afield.

If you live or have lived, on or near East Campus, you’ve probably come across it. Sylhety is tucked away in a corner on Kimberlow Rise, next to Cecil’s (which is less of a restaurant and more of an experience, but that’s a topic for another day). Since this was the closest place to campus restaurant-wise, my father and I gave it a visit when he came to York last June. Now it was an early dinner, so we were expecting to be alone in the restaurant, and for the awkward shuffling of cutlery to be audible to the poor waiter who would have nothing to do. To our surprise, however, the restaurant was at the perfect capacity, not so busy that we could not hear one another, but not so empty that everyone could hear our conversation. Weirdly, of the four other groups of diners (one group of which was a party of eight, well seated in the centre) not a single other person was a student; despite the generous student discount for takeaways. In spite of this sentiment, there is a weird element of student décor to their setup, for example, there is a set of multicoloured LED strip lights in one of the corners. In my opinion, It doesn’t gel very well with the rest of the interior, which is an average modern curry restaurant affair: white and blue cloth tables, bare walls and low lighting. I am not saying that this is a point against them, I just found it unusual that most of it looks like a restaurant, but in one corner it looks like someone’s going to be filming a TikTok.

However, none of that matters, because the food steals the show (as indeed it should!) Sylhety Lounge absolutely basks in their knowledge of Subcontinental Asian cuisine, and the amount of care they have put into replicating these flavours is a testament to this. It’s advised that you get about two or three of the meals to share as well as some rice and naan/chapati to mop them up. Of course, if you want some starters, they offer some very generous platters of various tasters such as kebabs and samosas for about £5; I took full advantage of this! On the curry side, while the Garlic Chilli Balti was delightful, I want to draw particular attention to one of their speciality dishes; the Haandi. While a nice lamb dish for less than £8 will catch my eye regardless, what interested me was the story behind it. This is a dish brought to prominence because of the Mongol Emperors, who apparently said that ‘eating with a knife and fork is like making love through an interpreter’. This odd detail was enough to pique my interest, and I am glad that I chose the dish. There was a fantastic array of textures, flavours and spices. They really put some punch into these dishes, so you will certainly be drinking more water than you would with your average supermarket curry sauce.

Having looked through the menu again in retrospect, I must admit, I found myself salivating thinking about the seafood section. Subcontinental Asian restaurants aren’t renowned for fish, but Sylhety shows the wonderful diversity of seafood recipes from the Subcontinent, and I regret not having gone for their Monkfish or the King Prawn Hashnaji. Vegetarians will also find themselves served rather nicely by Sylhety lounge, with many meat-free recreations of the main dishes. I will say that vegans have slightly less wiggle room, but I’m sure that the ever-helpful staff will do their best to accommodate.

Speaking of, the staff were fantastic. They were very friendly, came around at appropriate moments and did a fantastic job of getting all the dishes onto an admittedly small table (bear in mind this was a table for two). They even granted my request to get what remained on my plate transferred into some Tupperware (the food tasted just as nice two days later as well!) While the restaurant is perfect for getting takeaway from, I would feel guilty if you ate from this place without allowing the wonderful staff an opportunity to earn their well-deserved service charge.

If ever you need a nice meal and don’t want to hop on a bus, then this is the place. It won’t set you back much in terms of price, since most of their best options plus rice come to less than £10, and so if you order with a few friends, you won’t find yourself breaking the bank in the name of flavour. Unless spice is a hard no for you, then there is almost definitely a dish to suit your fancies.

Sylhety Lounge York
Retail Park, Unit 8 Kimberlow Ln, York
YO10 5LA