Once upon a time, when I fancied decent seafood and continental fine dining, I usually found myself heading to Saltz in Gulshan. And then something changed. Perhaps it was their chef, perhaps their recipes, perhaps maybe the management – whatever it was, Saltz had fallen, as least culinary wise. There were a few other Seafood places that popped up around Dhaka over the years, but none of them engaged with the fine dining aspect of it. The disappointed foodie in me resigned myself to indulging my tastebuds every time I headed out of the country for another trip.
And that was when a friend of mine suggested that I should visit “Pier 138” in Gulshan. “You won’t regret it,” she promised with a wink. And the foodie in me couldn’t resist the temptation.
Pier 138 took my dining expectation to a different level. The wait staff was respectful and accommodating and no request seemed to trouble them – including adjusting the light brightness (trust me, I can be very annoying when I’m engaged in my passionate photographing of food!).
I loved their impeccable service and timing! Without feeling rushed, we were able to settle in and study the menu, whilst munching on homemade break accompanied with deliciously golden butter swirls. It wasn’t long before our first appetizer made it to our table – the delicious “Smoked Salmon”.
I’m a salmon addict and this was undoubtedly the best smoked salmon I had tasted within Dhaka in the last 5 years. There was no hint of it being frozen or stored artificially, it wasn’t overly greasy, oily or salty; it was divine – the sweetness of the salmon perfectly complemented with the smokiness infused within it. The salmon swirls were stuffed with herbed cream cheese and gherkin pickle, served on a bed of garlic bread triangles with garlic mayo.
Next on the menu was the amazing New Zealand “Sauteed Mussels”. Because no seafood dinner is complete unless you have these beauties on the table!
Mussels are usually tricky to cook – you need to maintain the perfect saltiness of the sea whilst also ensuring that you don’t overcook the mussels. At the same time, you want to add the perfect ingredients that will make it an unforgettable dish. Thankfully, this is exactly what we got – a completely different take from the usual baked/steamed variety. The mussels had been lightly fried with garlic butter but the tomato relish that came with it was luscious – fresh tomatoes infused with red wine vinegar, garlic butter and lemon juice – it was the perfect accompaniment to the mussels indeed.
Our final starter was the delectable “Lobster Bisque”. The serving of tiger prawn also served as the perfect garnish and the taste of the homemade lobster stock was the ideal flavor that we were looking for. I could also taste the fresh cream which added to the creaminess and the seasoning was a mystery on my tastebuds, albeit a happy mystery that is!
Although the starters were reasonably filling, we were very much looking forward to our main courses and pleasantly surprised when they were delivered to our table. The very first dish I tasted was the “Surf and Turf”, precisely because this is usually always my choice for the evening every time I dine out for seafood.
The Surf and Turf was a delight! I love my steak cooked medium rare and even though I forgot to mention it earlier, this was exactly what we received. Now that I think about it, I regret not taking a picture of it whilst I was devouring it – but then with a steak this good, who has time for pictures?! The juicy jumbo prawns right next to it were perfectly grilled, maintaining the flavor and maintaining the tenderness which made it exquisite to taste. I could still taste the remnant of the garlic butter and the tanginess of the lemon used during preparation.
The lemon butter sauce with the steak was crystal clear and the mushroom sauce was a delight with the roasted veggies. The sautéed potatoes and carrots melted with the slightest touch from my knife and the brussel sprouts had the perfect crunch!
Next up was the gorgeous “Norwegian Salmon”. Now I’ve already mentioned how much of a big fan I am of salmon, and this was an entirely different ball game as compared with the earlier smoked salmon. I’m positive that the salmon steak was adequately marinated because I could still taste the perfect blend of seasoning and a hint of mustard. The aroma of virgin olive oil also added to the zest of this dish. And the creamed spinach with béchamel sauce brought a beautiful balance to the dish.
But I haven’t even mentioned the best part of this dish yet – I haven’t yet mentioned that gorgeously crispy and tantalizingly crunchy salmon skin yet, have I? This was literally my favorite part of the entire meal and something so unique that the crazy foodie in me never dreamed that she’d find it in Dhaka! And yet, here it was…in front of me…on my plate. Waiting…no wait, pleading to be devoured. And I am not even going to try and pretend that I was ladylike and ate it in tiny demure bites. I demolished it. And I do not regret one single bite.
The final main course on our table was the juicy “Lamb Shank”. Now, usually, I’m a firm believer than lamb simply HAS to be cooked properly, with the utmost care to preserve the flavor and the juiciness of the meat. And, this dish did not disappoint.
The best part about this dish was how all the elements came together. Although the lamb was, obviously, the star of this show, I have to confess that I completely fell in love with the mashed potato – it was an irresistible concoction combined with whipping cream, butter, a hint of nutmeg and sugar and the mandatory salt and pepper. And the saucy garnish – Mama Mia! The perfect barbeque with just the right amount of smokiness!
The night wasn’t over yet and we still had two surprises left – our beautiful deserts of “Crème Brulee” and “Chocolate Desire”. Upon asking, I was also informed that these were prepared by Pier 138’s very own in-house pastry chef. Both deserts were fabulous and I’m happy to report that neither of them was overly sweet for the palate, in fact they had just the right amount of sweetness!
Keeping up with its theme of fine dining, the interior of Pier 138 is also a delight to look at! I felt in love with their color scheme – the unique combination of blue and yellow. I was also impressed with their outdoor seating arrangement (ideal for winter brunches, lunches or afternoon high-tea) and with their private room as well (ideal for that friends’ reunion where you can crack those old jokes and be as loud as you want!).
At the end of every evening, I ask myself these few questions (which I’m sure everyone does!): Was it worth it? Did I enjoy myself? Was it worth my time, effort and energy? Did I have fun and a genuinely good time? And yes, the answer is definitely “yes”. Pier 138 was fabulous and I intend to return several times in the near future.
I was hosted as a guest at Pier 138. However, as always, all opinions are entirely my own!