Deshi Spice, 5169 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA (northeast corner of George Mason Drive and Lee Highway), 703-533-7270 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Don Rockwell | Yelp | TripAdvisor]
Update 2013: Closed. Now Aladdin.
An intriguing place, which isn’t quite yet as Bangladeshi as it should be. I recommend ordering the haleem, the chotpoti (white chickpeas), the vegetable curry, and the Bangladeshi fish, which usually has to be ordered in advance. That makes for a proper Bangladeshi meal, more or less. The other items -– which are more or less Indian food — seem to be of mixed quality, by no means bad on average, but not having all of the kinks worked out. This place still might get better, and it’s already worth trying as it is.
My wife and I ate at Deshi Spice for the first time this evening. We wanted to try some Bengali food and it is pretty scarce in NoVa. Tyler is right that most of their menu seems to be comprised of non-Bengali specialties. My wife ordered a lamb kebab dish (very good) but I told the waiter that I wanted Bong food and he said they could make me the Fish Dopiaza, even though we hadn’t called ahead. He told us the fish used was rohi, a south asian carp much prized in Bengal. Most Indian restaurants would use a more readily available substitute.
The fish was excellent, it has a texture similar to salmon, and it was served in a thick, spicy, onion sauce. The characteristic Bengali use of mustard oil and ponch phoran (five spice mix) was definitely in evidence. They also served us an excellent begun bhorta (mashed eggplant, dal and a complimentary bowl of chickpeas.
Our waiter was very solicitous and, though he was covering the entire room, made sure that we were comfortable with fish served with bones in. They have a boneless version made with tilapia filets, but hey, we came here to eat Indian. Give us the bony fish, please.
I will definitely be back there again, but next time I will call ahead so I can try some of the other Bengali dishes.