J told me the other week that he wanted to try Sri Lankan food. OK, no worries I said, I will find out where to go.
The next day at work I sent out an email requesting assistance. I work with a lot of Sri Lankans so figured they would be the best people to ask.
The guys were really helpful and my request generated much discussion. I was sent a list of places, and from them, J and I decided on Araliya on Glenferrie road, Hawthorn.
One of the reasons we chose Araliya was because it was solely Sri Lankan, the other places were mixed cuisines.
We rocked up at 7pm on a day where the temperature had reached 38 degrees. Maybe not the best weather for curry?
We were warmly greeted and shown to a table, a wobbly table. But no worries, the manager quickly fixed this.
It was very quiet. Not sure if this was because of the weather, or because Sri Lanka had beaten Australia in the cricket the night before?
Including us, there was only 15 people dining while we were there.
I was sitting on the bench seat, on a pretty elephant cushion.
We ordered drinks, a Cuban Mojito for J and a Passionfruit and Vanilla martini for me.
Neither of us liked the other’s drink but we both were happy with our own! Mine was so smooth.
The manager explained the menu to us, as well as the specials, which were written up on a blackboard. She was really good and made lots of suggestions. She also went through all the vegetable accompaniments that weren’t listed on the menu.
After a bit of debate, we decided to skip entree (nothing appealed to me) and have a main dish each and share a heap of side dishes.
For main J had the deviled prawns – Seared juicy Queensland prawns in a pungent roasted tomato and sun dried chilli sauce, ginger and lots of lemon juice
I chose the jaggery beef – Blackmore’s finest Wagyu brisket slow cooked in a robust sauce of roasted spices and Kitul jaggery (clarified sap of the Kitul palm flowers)
The side dishes were saffron rice, mango chutney and cucumber in yoghurt.
For vegies we had a serve of green beans and a dish of pennywort.
The manger said pennywort was seen by Sri Lankans as being brain food. She likened it to tabbouleh. A quick search on the web tells me that pennywort is a member of the dill and carrot family.
According to Araliya’s website, hoppers must be pre-ordered, and when I booked online I put in a request in the comments section to pre-order for us. This had not been received but we were assured it wouldn’t be a problem.
The food was excellent.
We had been given a choice of mild, medium or hot for the level of spiciness and heat for our main dish and we both chose medium. And it was spot on for our tastes, you could taste the flavours but weren’t overwhelmed with them or the heat.
My beef dish only had three pieces of beef in it, but the meat was tender and feel apart and I really enjoyed it.
All the side were good and the yogurt and chutney offset the heat of the prawns and beef nicely.
The mains may have been on the small side but with all the accompanying dishes we were comfortably full.
So the service and food were spot on. However, our one gripe would be the price. We thought it was expensive for what it was. The jaggery beef was $38, and I think all the sides were $14.