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“Not just authentic, but amazingly good.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cilantro Bangladeshi Bistro

Cilantro Bangladeshi Bistro
1011 Kempsville Road, Norfolk, VA 23502
757-962-1004
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Ranked #2 of 613 Restaurants in Norfolk
Restaurant details
New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Not just authentic, but amazingly good.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2014

First of all, they are very friendly and accommodating. We were vacationing in Norfolk for our parents 40th anniversary and were running late but they stayed open quite late for us. The owner and his brother-in-law made sure we were taken care of and made us feel like we were visiting friends.

We started off with the limade which was an exact match for the sweet drink we had back in Bangladesh. Because we were a large group, they brought out the food family style. For appetizers we had chicken and beef aloo chops, which were light and crispy, possibly the best we we'd ever had! The salad was fresh and had a light tasty dressing. The jhall beef was good and the shahi chicken was outstanding. The vegetable mishali tasted very fresh and had a wonderful blend of vegetables and spices. The polao was nice, it was not too heavy and had a beautiful light fragrance. The goat biriyani was probably the best we've had outside of the in the US. It was not greasy or heavy, was seasoned perfectly and had a mouth watering aroma. It was very similar to a Hyderabad biriyani.

We were so full that we didn't have room for sweets, but the owner insisted we try it. We usually don't bother with sweets when we go out because very few people know how to make them well, let alone restaurants. Boy were we surprised. My mom is well known for making sweets, which is partly why were are spoiled and have such a high standard. One of the hardest things to make well is Roshogolla. It takes almost a magical hand to get the right softness and texture without having it fall apart or squeak against your teeth. Even my mom was impressed. The Firni was also true to form and delicious.

We really appreciated that this wasn't a typical south asian restaurant serving tandoori and chicken tikka. If you want a taste of real Bangladeshi cuisine, this is the place. The menu is simple enough to try everything on it, which you will want to do since everything we tried was amazing. The decor is modern yet simple with pictures of Bangladesh take by the owner's son.

Friendly, authentic, clean, great food. What more could you want?

  • Visited June 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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19 reviews from our community

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    15
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    1
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    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Norfolk, Virginia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“A Hidden Gem”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2014

Today was my first experience @ Cilantro and I was impressed as soon as I walked it. The interior is simple and pretty and CLEAN. I walked up to the counter and was helped by a young man who explained what everything was, the ingredients, and how each was cooked. I went with the Royal Chicken and Polao Rice and splurged and ordered two of their daily specials, which was Cabbage Bhaja. And I am glad I did. There is a spiciness to them that is wonderful and unique. If you haven't tried it, I'd recommend it 100%. Take a leap of faith and try something new. It is worth it.

  • Visited June 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norfolk, Virginia
Top Contributor
159 reviews 159 reviews
99 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
85 helpful votes 85 helpful votes
“Worth seeking out for lunch or dinner”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2014

Finally had the opportunity to try this restaurant as their hours are not the same each day and I am usually in school during the lunch hours.

This restaurant was featured favorably in the newspaper and rightfully so. We were greeted by fragrant smells and a very enthusiastic young lady who gladly described each dish in the counter display (which were spicy, what each dish had in it, etc...) and encouraged us to try more than one entree by ordering half servings. A nice looking young man rang us up as our plates were prepared at the counter.

In addition to the 'party rice' (roti) steamed with many spices and rains we were told are not IN the rice, just cooked with it, I ordered parata (flat flaky crescent roll type pastry). Both paired well with my entrees - the shrimp malaikari and jhaal beef and I used the parata as a vehicle to get as much goodness in my mouth!

Half sizes were not enough for me - even with a side of eggplant (vegetable of the day) so I would say, you won't leave bloated but wanting more!

Beef was spicy and melt in your mouth, shrimp had that coconut feel - only 4 shrimp. My lunch partner had the royal chicken (way spicy) but flavorful.

We both look forward to another chance to eat here - small place with less than 10 tables but attentive staff are interested in the patrons experience, refilling water and clearing tables. Ladies in the back constantly cooking food so you know everything is fresh. It was a most pleasant experience.

  • Visited May 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portsmouth, Virginia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Stands on its own among good regional Indian restaurants.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2014

We've come a long way in this community from the days when the manager of a new restaurant of a then famous regional Indian restaurant chain told me, when I asked why his food was so bland, that, quite frankly, they didn't think Norfolk was ready for Indian food as it was really flavored and spiced. These days we have some excellent Indian restaurants in the region, a couple that I can compare favorably to my experiences in other parts of the world. We still have a few ethnic restaurants here that seem to apply their flavors to the surface of their food rather than actually cook it into the food, but in the matter of Indian (and Thai) restaurants we're blessed, from Virginia Beach to Newport News. The relatively new Cilantro on Kempsville Road in Norfolk takes Indian into a new realm, at least for me. It's not that it's better than the nearby and always good Nawabs, for example, but that it's different in both the delicacy and assertiveness of its flavors and textures. I was truly blown away last night by its Jahl Beef, described simply as slow coked in ginger, cumin and red chilis, but my gracious. It was its own creation, fork tender, delicately flavored in a new flavor for me, mixed with perfectly al dente basmati that both stood on its own while absorbing just enough of the beef flavor, spicy but not in a way that get your body's defenses up. The simple small salad and its usual kind of water/vinegar/sugar dressing had something else there that made it different. The small vegetable side dishes were just right. The restauraunt is the expression of a large local family that is based in the region's very strong medical community, and we were privileged to be taken out to it by good friends who are also members of the local Indian / Bangladeshi medical community. It will seat just about 30 in an understated decor, but apparently does a strong takeout business that doesn't detract at all from the seating portion, and they have a basic Indian grocery store next door which I assume will be their space for inevitable expansion. It's not in any kind of Norfolk restaurant row, actually in the premises of what I remember as a hot dog joint, and would be easy to dismiss. But recommended for its strong, softspoken and unique identity among a number of really good Indian restaurants around here.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Virginia Beach, Virginia
Top Contributor
231 reviews 231 reviews
190 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Interesting Change - Outstanding”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2014

We drive past this restaurant frequently, usually to either take Dee to the local CHKD thrift store or me to the Office Depot for supplies. We were somewhat intrigued by what Bangladeshi cuisine was like (thinking it was similar to Indian), we decided to give it a try - sampling the Parata (a soft flat bread), Jhaal Chicken and Beef, Alu Chop (similar to a filled croquette) and Daal (a thin lentil soup). Everything was exquisite with just the right amount of spice/heat. The atmosphere is somewhat austere - order at a counter for table delivery. The staff is very friendly and take time to explain the various dishes in which they take considerable pride. Definitely a keeper.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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