Bangladeshi food street cart “Tong” recently opened its first permanent location in Queens, New York.
It has six outdoor carts in Bronx and Queens, including two franchises and a Bellerose spot. Upon entering the newly-opened restaurant, visitors are bound to notice the Bangladeshi colors and style in everything from the menu to the decor.
The walls too, are illustrated with traditional Bangladeshi street food and sellers. A cart-like structure is visible at the far back of the restaurant, which holds onto its characteristic features.
The founder of Tong, Naeem Khandaker, is a self-taught one-man army of Bangladeshi street foods. In 2018, Khandaker made waves in the dining scene when he showed up with his rare-in-New York Bangladeshi street foods and led other entrepreneurs to follow in his fuchka-laden footsteps.
His success springs from his business administration courses at Baruch College and a longing for Bangladeshi food that grew so deep while he was attending college in Italy in 2012 that he taught himself to cook.
He is on the mission to spread his favorite Bangladeshi snacks in America. This time, the restaurant has a new and more extensive menu that includes labor-intensive and time-consuming street foods from Bangladesh.
New savory items include ‘Fuchka on Fire’ and a ‘Lucchi Platter’ in which you will find beef chaap that is ground beef marinated in masala with mustard oil, onion, ginger, and garlic for up to 10 hours, shaped into patties, and then pan-fried, served with the lucchi, palm-sized puffed-up bread. A saucy dal and cucumber yogurt salad to round it out.
The four drinks available at Tong, include lemonade, pagla pani (a sweet, sour, and spicy combination of masalas, and pickles), bhalobashar sharbot (a watermelon beverage), and the world-famous falooda.
Bangladeshi food has caught the imagination of America like never before, proving once again that South Asian food can win hearts anywhere in the world!