Tucked down a narrow alleyway in Lakshmi Bazar, near the famous St. Gregory’s Church, is Dhaka’s oldest bakery (at least according to the current owners and some historians).
For over 150 years, Prince of Wales Bakery has been serving delicious cakes and tarts to thousands of customers.
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The place’s premium offerings include fruit pies, cream rolls, cheesecakes, and many other sweet treats. The bakery also touts itself as one of the first to bake wedding and Christmas cakes in Dhaka.
WHAT ABOUT THE NAME?
Since its establishment in 1870, the bakery received immediate traction with the locals for its unique name. But no, the original owner of the place was in no way related to the British royal family.
According to historians, a British gentleman from Wales, whose name has been lost in the history books, came to Dhaka from Britain. He gained a bit of a reputation as “Mr. Wales” in the city and decided to permanently seal his legacy in the city by establishing the Prince of Wales.
A Sheikh Badruddin Mia, popularly known as Buddhu Mia, started working at the place at the age of 12. Before partition, Mr. Wales handed over the responsibilities of the bakery to Buddhu Mia, before leaving Dhaka permanently for his home country.
Buddhu later bought the establishment from the owner and his family and has owned this bakery ever since. Aftab Uddin Ahmed, Nuruddin Ahmed, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Abdul Quader and Manzoor Ahmed became the owners of Prince of Wales respectively. Md Babul, Buddha’s nephew, is currently managing the establishment.
OLD IS GOLD
At first glance, the place will look like a run-of-the-mill bakery, as the new generations didn’t change the original setup much.
Babul said they still bake like their uncle and father used to. Some of the kitchen equipment is centuries old.
“We still fire the ovens with wood. We use long steel sleeves to move the trays in or out. We run this bakery by legacy, not for profit,” he said.
Babul proudly said that they add a personal touch while baking, keeping their customers coming back for more.
To date, the place is popular with students from St. Gregory’s High School and College and the nearby institutions.
“I like the cream roll from this bakery. It tastes different from the others,” said Fahim Mahmud, a student at St Gregory’s.
Moumita Rahman, a student at St Francis Xavier’s School for Girls, echoed the same point. “It’s really delicious! One would fall in love with just one bite.”
Most of the items on the bakery menu look distinctly different than those in modern bakeries.
The venue was one of the first to introduce baked Christmas and wedding cakes to Dhaka. Even now, people flock to the bakery from different corners of Dhaka to order cakes for Christmas or social gatherings.
Babul said, “Our Christmas cakes are very famous. Not only Old Dhakas but also residents of Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi order our cakes during Christmas.”
He mentioned that the bakery was closed for 12 years due to a family conflict, after the death of Buddha Mia.
“But even then, we didn’t stop making Christmas cakes for customers,” Babul added.