It's Hopper Night at Priyani's Cafe
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Hopefully, you've read Thi Nguyen's loving review of Priyani Cafe in the LA Times just a mere 4 months ago. I tell you, I love a real find, yours or mine.Like many a blogger, I have many restaurants in my rolodex that I'd gladly pass along with heartfelt PR.But, only a few become part of my weekly or monthly routines.Too busy tracking down new places, trying to keep it interesting, but every now and then........an angelic choir from above.....a bolt of lightning.
Chowhound's Das UberGeek and I experienced Priyani for the first time at a gathering arranged by a mutual fiend.Yes,I mean fiend.It was the first time I witnessed DU's facegasms. His excellent report on Priyani Cafe can be found here.
The husband and wife team of Nihal(L)and Priyani(R), pictured with relative Prama(Center), are a couple of hugs and kisses. They are absolutely sweet people cooking and hosting in this little tucked away eatery at the rear of a back parking lot behind a market on Reseda Bl.I love this place so much that I forget how ridiculous it is to have friends meet me here, until I've been on the phone with them for a couple of minutes trying to navigate them to the front entrance.
I saw a sign that Priyani put up a few months ago that read "Every Friday, Hopper Night" I asked Priyani what happens on Hopper Night? Live music? Sri Lankan dancing? I don't know, it just sounded like a party and I wanted in. I got Javier Cabral so wound up about this place and the Hopper Night party, I think he ran to his car and started driving.
We were the first to arrive and were greeted by Priyani.We ordered regular hoppers,the thin fermented rice flour Sri Lankan pancakes, and egg hoppers right away.Egg hoppers like this beauty here are hoppers with a fried egg cooked in. These have a soft, pliant texture with a crisp outer edge, just begging to be stuffed.
Spicy deviled potatoes and seeni(onion) sambal are what Hopper Night is all about. A party of flavor and texture in your mouth. Well, a few other customers trickled in, but it wasn't exactly the spectacle that I had concocted in my curry drunk mind on my previous visit.Hoppers and egg hoppers are available on weekends, and party or no party,they are worth the trip alone.
Priyani's string hoppers have been mentioned before, a completely different experience, but equally inviting.You want to eat these hoppers with everything. They are served with a coconut sambal, so spicy and pleasing.
The deep frying is nails here. Cutlets(croquettes), pattis(turnovers), rolls,pastries, and fish buns.Try them all, they'll be glad to give you a sampler platter.
The chile chutney full of heat, zest, and intricacies.Priyani is a master of flavors and texture, nothing here is simplistic.
The dal curry oozes intense lentil essence. It's always been available when I've been to Priyani's, but isn't on their menu, unless you consider the item, "Any Kind of Curries." As Thi reported, ask what they have and don't worry about the menu so much. You might even be so lucky as to enjoy a rarely served item.The menu is deceptive.When this artful plate is delivered to your table you will do a double take towards the menu, and snicker at your good fortune.
Lampreis,the nacatamal of Sri Lanka is amazing. A gathering of eggplant curry, onion sambola, shrimp sambola, green banana curry, chicken curry and fish cutlet wrapped in a banana leaf. You won't stop digging until you've exhausted the full range of gorgeous savors.
The lamb kotthu rotti, with tender lamb, pasta,onions, and a richness so fragrant and mouthwatering. It is a favorite.
Priyani's restaurant experience shine through on the chicken buriyani. A mold of earthy rice with delectable bites of chicken inside,cashew nuts, raisins, and surprises are found throughout the dish.
You'll never know what Priyani has cooking on the stove.Restaurants around town wouldn't dare cook whatever they feel like, but it's just like I would imagine doing to Nihal and Priyani's house would be like. You know it's going to be good and you'll eat anything she puts in front of you.
Deviled chicken is a blazing dish, like other preparations, you may find other proteins on a given night.
I was blessed to have eaten a jackfruit curry dish with friends a few months back.It's a countrified looking plate with a fantastic interplay of mild curry with delicate jackfruit.
You simply must have the Watalappam, even if Priyani gives you too much food, which always seems to happen to me. I often end up with lunch and dinner for the next day. It is a Sri Lankan coconut custard too delicious for words.
At the moment, this is one of the most interesting places to dine.Forget that it is the best Sri Lankan restaurant, it's one of the best regional restaurants in LA. If you haven't been it should be moved to the top of your dance card. There won't be some "wild party" on hopper night, but definitely stop by on the weekend for the delicious hoppers and decadent egg hoppers.
Bring your friends and just order like mad. Just like Thi, who never experienced the Lampreis, the only disappointment will be in the plates you missed.
Priyani Ceylon Fusion
9035 Reseda Bl.
Northridge, CA 91324