One of the happiest little surprises for me is when I see something I was already going to buy on discount. This was one of the moments when I walked into Myer, thinking I’d buy some kitchen utensils for myself while the end of financial year sale is on, and then picking up the Cheap Eats 2011 guide for 25% off! The first thing I did when I got home was flip through this lovely book which is chock a block full of great information for a foodie like myself (who loves good food at a bargain price).
Then I realised, the place called ‘Curry and Chips’ was rated as two stars in the book (new this year) and it’s just across the road from where Yuye lived! In fact, we buy food from that area all the time, without ever giving the place a thought. I wonder why that was. Perhaps somewhere deep in my mind, the idea of having chips with curry just didn’t click? Either way, we decided to give the place a try the very next day, being all excited about the prospect of maybe finding a fantastic new joint so close to home.
As we entered, it felt just like any other informal cafe/takeaway restaurant, except with the distinct smell of curry in the air. I actually love my curries, but most of the curries I’ve tried are Indian and this restaurant specialises in Sri Lankan food. I was compelled to google what the difference was between Indian and Sri Lankan food and I didn’t find too much information out there. The main things I gathered were:
1. Sri Lankans like to roast their curry powder before making the curry whereas Indians l like to use it raw and thus gives Sri Lankan curries a more smokey flavour, obtained from this source. They also use more spices (and thus can be more spicy) and has a drier consistency.
2. Sri Lanka is closer to Southern India, therefore is more similar to Southern Indian flavours compared to Northern and they like to use more coconut milk, banana leaves and fish, obtained from this source.
3. Sri Lankan food is not as common in Western society as Indian, so the familiar names of Vindaloo and Madras are from India. If I got anything wrong or if there’s anything you would like to add to this analysis, I’d love it if you comment below :).
We weren’t quite sure what to order really and took random picks from the lunch specials written on the wall. Yuye ordered the Banana Leaf Biriyani Lamb ($14) which comes with spiced rice, curry of your choice, potato theldala and mint sambol served with saffron egg and salad, wrapped in a fragrant banana leaf. The ‘curry of your choice’ really just meant ingredient of your choice between chicken or lamb since Biriyani is the actual curry. I thought Yuye ordered this because of the egg, he lovessss eggs. The menu said it was a “saffron egg” which I thought would taste like saffron but sadly it was just a regular deep-fried egg. It was a bit dry but since we both love eggs so much, this was not a big issue.
The curry came all wrapped in paper and seemed mysterious. I was dying to unwrap it to see what’s inside!
And…surprise! The curry and rice inside the banana leaf was fragrant and spicy, although we agreed that the meat was a bit dry. From ordering this curry, it was evident that Indian curries are very saucy compared to Sri Lankan, and frankly I liked the saucy ones more although this wasn’t bad in any way. Yuye also thought they were probably all pre-prepared and just heated up in a microwave or something similar (this place has huge takeaway signs all over the place so it’s quite obvious that takeaway is a major service).
I ordered the Stringhopper Pilau and curry meal for $15. This included fresh stringhoppers tossed with mixed vegetables and bacon served with a curry of your choice and frikkadels. Frikkadels are meant to be a South African meatballs dish so I have no idea why that was there because I couldn’t see or taste any meatballs in my dish. Maybe it’s something completely different to what I’m thinking of.
Stringhoppers is a traditional Sri Lankan noodle-like ingredient made from steamed rice flour and put through moulds similar to making pasta. I found it was similar to thin vermicelli. This could also be seen in packets at the counter if you prefer to make some authentic Sri Lankan dishes at home.
I loved the stringhoppers and so did Yuye. It was soft, full of flavour and went perfectly with the curry. It also had a wonderful texture from the mixed in veggies and cashews which also gave it that extra nutty flavour. I chose beef for my curry. Although it was slightly more saucy than Yuye’s, it was still very different to that of Indian curries. However, taste wise it was fine with me since the stringhoppers dish itself had plenty of flavour, more than sufficient even without the curry! I was happy enough to gulp it down just by itself.
The name of this restaurant is Curry and Chips so we had to end the day with some chips. The chips were fat and crunchy and fresh out of the deep-fryer. I was told to dip it in the curry (instead of tomato sauce duh) which was very delicious. However, because there wasn’t much sauce for me to dip in the first place, I had to resort to eating them plain. Getting chips may have been a mistake since we were really full just by eating the curries so in the end, we had to take the chips away (that was a LOT of chips for $4).
There are also many spices and sauces by the entrance that you can purchase.
Overall I enjoyed the meal. It opened my eyes to what Sri Lanka dishes are like and because of its close proximity to Yuye’s house, we’d probably go back there again. However, I wouldn’t really rate it 2 stars as a cheap eat since for $14 or $15 for lunch, I can get plenty of (similar if not better) fabulous dishes elsewhere and some of those restaurants are not even in the book! Based on this, I don’t believe it’s worth driving out for if it’s out of the way. With that said, if you live nearby, it might be a nice break from the usual cafe food you get in the area.
Curry and Chips
Phone: (03) 9802 3732
250 Blackburn Rd, Mount Waverley 3149