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Sri Lankan food

Other than the Curry Bowl in Woodland Hills, and the annual festival in Santa Monica, are there Sri Lankan restaurants in the Southland?

I'll admit it... I was watching Anthony Bourdain and the food looked just... incredible.

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  1. Have you been to the Curry Bowl out in the land of the Apemen, Das? It has had some good comments here over the years as far as I can recall.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I haven't -- I know of its existence, but frankly I was sort of hoping there'd be a tiny pocket of Sri Lankan culture in Utter Long Beach or maybe a forgotten corner of Bellflower or Artesia or something... the Valley of the Masses is a long, long way from Anaheim.

      But I may end up going anyway... that cashew curry looked INSANE.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Good News: The Curry Bowl in Tarzana is arguably the best Sri Lankan restaurant in the United States today (I've asked around amongst my Sri Lankan friends on both coasts and they swear it's presently the ONLY Sri Lankan restaurant in the United States).

        Bad News: The Curry bowl serves a very limited selection of Sri Lankan food. Almost exclusively downmarket Sri Lankan street food (the sort of stuff you'd find in every dive, and street stall in Colombo). Mostly short eats and roti dishes; starchy, homey, greasy, and uncomplicated (the sort of thing ex pats drive 50 miles each way for, but non Sri Lankans don't really get excited over).

        Good or Bad News (depending on your point of view): If you want something not mentioned on their very short (maybe ten items, some of which they're always out of) badly photocopied menu, you're at the whim of their twice daily buffets. These can be very, very good Sri Lankan home cooking... or bad indian steam table fare. They used to have live music for their nightly buffets... I don't know if they still do. On most weekends they make string hoppers, which are like birds nests of doughy fresh noodles served with thin curry for drenching and dipping.

        I like Curry Bowl. I drive there from Santa Monica occassionally... but I doubt I'd drive from Anaheim.

        Incidentally, the Santa Monica Sri Lanka Day Fesival is terrific... but it's honestly just more of the same. Sri Lankan street food, nothing fancy, nothing complicated, nothing that doesn't heat up nicely in a microwave or on a steam table.

    2. ...sigh...those of us who were living here back in the 80's will, I'm sure, fondly remember the Sri Lankan Curry House on the corner of Highland and Fountain. I wish they were still around. (One of the cooks opened a smaller and not-quite-as-good place in a creepy neighborhood on Yucca St., north of Hollywood, but I'm pretty sure they closed years ago.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: annagranfors

        I remember that place on Highland & Fountain... nothing in it's class since!

        1. re: annagranfors

          Had a memorable dinner there with some friends, one of whom absolutely adored really spicy food; the waitperson asked 'How spicey do you want your food sir" and friend replied "let it roll" - well when the dish came and after taking a bite, friend bolted from the restaurant and was last seen running round the little apron of a parking lot in front begging for water. He is still talking about the experience. We all loved it (mild on the spice please) and subsequently found a Sri Lankan restaurant in a tiny strip mall off Overland Ave in Palms which didn't last longer than you could say Sri Lanka but the breakfast noodles (as I remember) were delicious.

        2. my sri lankan roommate says that there are like 2 sri lankan restaurants in the US. one of them is in NY. alas, none of them in LA. can't understand why since sri lankan food is sooooooo good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lakeshow318

            Has your roommate tried Curry Bowl?

            1. re: Servorg

              no i don't think so. he's only tried a restaurant in NY. we live kinda far from curry bowl, but we'll have to make a trip sometime.

          2. Das... I'm SO bummed I missed the episode!

            The food IS incredible, but I'm Sri Lankan, so I'm a little biased :)

            There's another place in Anaheim my cousin was telling me about, but he said it was not as good as the Curry Bowl, so I took it off my radar. I googled this, so I'm not sure if this is the place or not: Wadiya Sri Lankan Restaurant: 949 S. Euclid St., Anaheim

            Other than that, there aren't any other restaurants (until I win the lottery and open my own!). There's also a handful of people who do catering; kind of like underground take-out, that you plan in advance.... although, in my opinion, it's hit or miss.

            There's a great store that imports various curry, seasonings, chutney, tea, etc. that is unparalleled in the area: Sri Lankan Delight, 19016 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana. it's a few blocks east from the Curry Bowl. It's a small store in a strip mall - no fresh produce, but frozen goods, bottled & canned goods, and dried goods.

            India's Sweets & Spices does have a small selection of Sri Lankan things, but the selection is about 1% of what Sri Lankan Delight has, and you have to watch expiration dates.

            2 Replies
            1. re: The Oracle

              Wadiya menu (you'll have to zoom in to make out the text):


              Lamprais, no poppers. Looks more promising than the two Sri Lankan places in Santa Cruz.

              1. re: The Oracle

                There is a Sri Lankan restaurant in Anaheim. I have eaten there. They do serve very fine hoppers, and they have a steam table, and they serve a yoghurt type of dish with treacle (from Palms) that is very refreshing. I went there with my neighbors who were from Thailand and they said the food was authentic enough. I have eaten at my neighbor's home and had sri lankan curry (made with about thirteen spices) and all sorts of other dishes, some quite hot. My observation is that Sri Lankan cusine tends to be somewhat heavy generally and such dishes as the lobster my neighbor made was very tasty if hot. Hoppers are a specialty and a lot of them are consumed, sort of a crepe with an egg in it, againawfully good. Look up the website and the LA Times Review http://www.wadiyausa.com/la_times.html. In the book I have that spans almost all the Asian countries there are Sri Lankan recipes for anyone who's interested, by Charmaine Solomon, and I used it to make a creditable Sri Lankan curry. See the website http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Asian-....

              2. I went to Curry Bowl once for dinner, but it just happened to be a night they were doing a buffet-- and it was pretty bad. Maybe I should go back and try it when they just serve from the regular menu.

                3 Replies
                1. re: noahbites

                  I agree with the buffet assessment. It seems like it sits too long and is way too greasy (and the meat/fish not all that impressive).

                  The only thing I think is decent from the buffet are their hoppers, either egg, plain or string. They make the hoppers (the egg and plain) on the spot, so they are really fresh. (Hoppers are like the sri lankan 'tortilla' (it's made from this almost, but not quite sweet batter), you break off a piece and eat curry with it).

                  I stay away from the buffet and stick with ordering from the menu (chicken koti-rotti is my FAVORITE). A friend described it as asian chiliquiles - it's basically strips of rotti (think thick flour tortilla) fried up with chicken and various spices. So good when it's made on the spot (and surprisingly freezes and heats up in the microwave really well).

                  You really can't mess up string hoppers either - those are pretty basic 'base' to curry.

                  The other thing to get are any of their 'packets'. This is a combination of meat, rice (usually the variant of the 'packet' is the type of rice, cutlet (meat filled, round fried ball), eggplant, boiled egg, sambol), all wrapped in a banana leaf and then wrapped in foil. What's great about these is they are very portable, freeze well (except for the egg!) and can be reheated on a low oven. We do big orders of packets around the holidays. They make them fresh and transport very easily (and are cheap! Less than $10 for one).

                  And, while you are there, try some of the 'short eats' in the case: patties are the way to go, IMO. (the egg rolls are usually too greasy for my tastes).

                  It should be mentioned that the restaurant itself is the epitome of a hole-in-the wall. A small place in a strip malls, a couple 2 tops lining the narrow entrance, with larger room with additional seating upstairs (think basic tables and plastic chairs).

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    hoppers are fantastic. they're made with fermented rice flour batter. http://www.lankalibrary.com/food.shtml you make them in a pan that looks like a mini-wok with a flat bottom. my sri lankan mother in law made them for us to eat even with a dinner curry, with seeni and pol sambols.

                  2. Does anyone know what this eggy breakfast with apparent shrimp is called and who would have something like that in L.A.? (From Bourdain's show)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      fwiw, mr. alka (from sri lanka) says that dish looks more indonesian to him.....

                    2. I was driving in the valley yesterday and saw a sign for Sri Lankan food. So I went into this small "cafe" and ordered some food to go. I am not particularly familiar with Sri Lankan food, but being from India I am familiar with some of the flavors. The food was pretty good. The owner (I am assuming he was) made me a plate of rice, chicken curry,daal and some veg. curries and also a roti. They have only been open for a few months and it is kind of hidden away next to a market. It's called "Priyani Celon Fusion Oriental Cafe" at 9035 Reseda Bl in Northridge. Phone 818-998-6900. I hope someone else tries it out and posts their oppinions.We will go back and try some of the other dishes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shunilb

                        Went to the Curry Bowl for the first time last night. The man behind the buffet said the food was moderately spicy. To me, the spice levels were perfect, enough heat to make my scalp tingle but not over the top. I think many people would consider the food very spicy.
                        I'll tap that buffet any time I'm in the area, the food left a wonderful taste in my mouth the rest of the night. The spice/flavor profiles seem a little different from Indian but I can't specify exactly what those differences are.

                        1. Just noticed another place last week at the corner of Nordhoff and Reseda, believe it's attached to a grocery store. Will have to check it out next time I'm in the area.

                          Btw while at Curry Bowl several months ago, I tried their dugeness crab curry, wahhhhh it was EXCELLENT!!! I don't usually gush but this was very very good.

                          1. Just FYI
                            Priyani Celon Fusion Oriental Cafe posted above. The Hoppers were good.

                            Also, there is another place in the north valley-
                            SRI LANKAN CAFE
                            9857 MASON AVE C
                            no recs. just fyi.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Jerome

                              congratr to Thi Nguyen. Nice review of Priyani Cey. cafe.

                              now Thi has to post here on his take on sri lankan cafe

                              1. re: Jerome

                                Thanks -

                                I actually found Priyani driving down Reseda *the day Das Uber made the original post-request* - I got a weird tingle in the corner of my brain from a banner they had out front, and had to circle around a few times before I actually found the place. My first meal was this mindbending thing of turmeric pork curry with cold pineapple and pickled onion slaw on top. Then I went home and found Das Uber's post, dying to respond - but, of course, couldn't post on it if there was gonna be an article. Etc.

                                Priyani Cafe I love with a hot passion. I am told by those who've been to both (namely, streetgourmetla) that Priyani kicks Curry Bowl's butt. He said something like, over a dense eggplant curry, that he suddenly understood that Curry Bowl was cafeteria food. I think he hugged Priyani. I mean, the lady, not the restaurant.

                                I was recently there and she brought out some "falafels" made out of garbanzo beans. She said she was "experimenting". They were awesome - actually more like hush puppies in granularity and spirit than garbanzos...

                                I'll definitely go to Sri Lankan Cafe - been yet? Any recc's by now?

                                1. re: Thi N.

                                  I went this past week. It was good, don't get me wrong -- it's a seductive cuisine -- but of the three Sri Lankan places I've been, it's the weakest. Priyani is far and away the best, even if you are playing menu roulette every time you go in (but it's always! so! good!) and Wadiya is second. But Wadiya is nowhere near the Valley.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    so you'be been to curry bowl on ventura, priyani (i got their wattalapam dessert last time which was ok, but the jaggery syrup didn't[ taste as fresh as the defunct place at Highlandand fountain made it). Wadiya and curry bowl how about the cafe on Mason in Chatsworth?

                                    btw for trhe inunitiated, priyani is in the back - next to a market, entrance oly off the rear parking lot. And when you walk in, it is th ULTIMATE hole in the wall looking place.

                                    don't be a-feared.

                                    1. re: Jerome

                                      I can count the number of times I've been to chatsworth on a pair of chopsticks -- both to Woodlands.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        is that priyani joint on reseda blvd, (???) that thai reviewed a couple years back still there ?

                                        1. re: kevin

                                          No, it's been closed for quite a while now.

                                  2. re: Thi N.

                                    Yeah, I think I did hug her.Love Priyani and her husband, sweetest people around.

                              2. There are several Sri Lankan restaurants in San Fernando Valley check them out:
                                Asian Lanka
                                Cafe Lanka
                                Baja Sub
                                Apey Kade

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Rocky123

                                  I was in the valley for the first time in a long time last week, and I stopped by Apey Kade.

                                  The space is (obviously) the same as Curry Bowl's was, but there has been significant wear and tear over time. The diversity of offerings is better, and unlike Curry Bowl, string hoppers are available every day.

                                  I'd had the Apey Kade folks' food previously at Sri Lanka Day, and while there were more offerings in the restaurant, the overall experience was comparable.

                                  The food was good, not dumbed down or westernized, with offerings from jack fruit to bitter melon, to a boney king mackerel curry. The hoppers had perfectly cooked runny eggs at their center, and the string hoppers were fresh and warm.

                                  The only complaint that I could come up with, if I had to, would be that the rice is kept in a steam tray... too long, and that resulted in a really clumpy gummy texture.

                                  I was happy to see that the demise of Curry Bowl hasn't appreciably diminished the availability of good Sri Lankan food in the valley.

                                  1. re: Moomin

                                    I was looking for this restaurant today and for the life of me couldn't find it. Are they at the same address? I saw a kick-boxing studio and a masonic lodge there, and nothing else.

                                    1. re: MarkC

                                      Isn't it (at this point maybe I should say "wasn't it") back next door to the Sushi Spot in the little mini mall with the 7-11 (as if that is going to narrow it down location wise - ha) on the SE corner of Corbin and Ventura Blvd?

                                      1. re: Servorg


                                        Thanks, guess I'll look again. You're right, a mini mall with a 7-11 doesn't narrow the field much int he valley:)

                                        1. re: MarkC

                                          Mark, did you ever look for Apeky Kade again? I do note that the same mini mall with the 7-11 and Apeky Kade (and the Sushi Spot) also has a Donut Queen, if that helps?

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Hi Servorg;

                                            Yes, I did find it, thanks. The street numbering is a little confusing, which is how I missed it. I ate there with my kids last weekend. It's like sitting in someone's drab, tiny kitchen, but the food's tasty. I'm interested to compare it to Baja Sub, which is a lot closer to home.

                                  2. re: Rocky123


                                    Asian Lanka has been closed.

                                    So in LA area there's:

                                    Cafe Lanka ~ La Crescenta, CA
                                    Apey Kade ~ Tarzana, CA
                                    Baja Sub ~ Northridge, CA

                                  3. There's a new one in Torrance called Curry Leaf. It's not great, but I'm Sri Lankan so I'm picky... Still looking for a decent "lamprais"...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: thechez5

                                      Try Cafe Lanka ~ La Crescenta they got Lamprais..here's a link to their menu: https://www.facebook.com/cafelanka/ap...

                                      1. re: Rocky123

                                        Have you tried Cafe Lanka's food? I'm curious how it compares to Apey Kade.

                                        1. re: The Oracle

                                          Yes I have, they are both equally good in my opinion; Café Lanka is specialized in Biryani dishes, along with Kothu Roti with other items. They don't have a Buffet table they are geared more towards take-outs. I tried their Mutton Biryani, it had Sri Lankan spices and tasted very good. They opened their doors recently 2012 I think. BTW I heard Curry Leaf maybe opening another restaurant in Reseda in the near future.

                                          1. re: Rocky123

                                            Thanks, Rocky123. Mutton Biryani is a favorite of mine and I look forward to trying Cafe Lanka's!