Luckily because the British believe so hard in Easter, I also had the next day off from work. And because I was such a terrible (or fantastic...depending on how you look at it), planner, I missed my Dad's birthday over the weekend. So we went out to celebrate the Monday I was back and still had off, taking him out to a Sri Lankan restaurant that we had found on Yelp that was about a mile away called Papaya.
None of us could recall ever having Sri Lankan food, and upon studying the menu (online and in the restaurant), this was confirmed even more. It was sort of like Indian food and Southeastern Asian food mixed together...but not. It looked fantastic whatever it was and we were excited to try it.
It helped that the staff was incredibly friendly and the restaurant gorgeous:
To start things off? A sweet lassi please! Who knows what kind of delicious spices were going to come my way. This did not disappoint. Milky, slightly sour, and just a hint of sweet. I've been on a yogurt drink kick lately and this certainly continued that wonderful trend.
We ordered a wealth of dishes after that, wanting to try all of the different things we'd never heard of and sounded fascinating. We did it family style to maximize sharing.
Spinach with lentils, made creamy and spiced (dhal spinach). It was fantastic and is something I think I'll try to replicate in my kitchen. The dish on the right is fish curry - not like any curry I've had before - distinctly less strong but still flavorful and rich. Was fantastic. A little bit of spice but not overbearingly so. All of the flavors at this place were like that - rich but not overbearing. It was fantastic.
Rich with spices and other things mixed into it. Forgot the name of this but it was fragrant and soft on its own without being mushy. We always wonder how they do that. Clearly not made in a rice cooker (or I'm doing it wrong, haha).
Fabulous chewy rounds of bread. I've had bread like this before though I don't know exactly how to describe it. It's sort of flaky and a little greasy, like it's been panfried, but it's chewy and subtle and is great for saucy dishes. It was fantastic.
And finally, the best dish of all:
The chicken string hopper, as it was called. A Sri Lankan street food dish, turned restaurant-appropriate. They make noodles (looked like thin egg noodles of some kind) and chop them up, panfry them with a ton of spices, then throw in chicken, fresh chopped lettuce, and raw red onions. It was amazing. Reminded me of a drier, more subtle version of some of the Thai food I'd had recently. I would definitely order this again in a heartbeat. I'd had nothing else like it. The combination and crunch of the raw veggies really made it. I'm all for it.
So we had a great celebratory meal and walked out satisfied and full. Sri Lankan food: you are definitely delicious. Who would have thought? :)