Taste of Sri Lanka
March 20, 2019
|Coffee with fresh cow's milk
It looks like the new kid on the block and indeed, the 10-year-old Yarl Restaurant (behind the YMCA building) has shed its old mantle after having undergone massive renovations. Reopened two months ago, it now wears chic hues of black, white and grey, with splashes of brown in the tabletops. Stone benches along both sides even have power points so customers can charge their mobile devices as they dine.
There is no airconditioning but the interior is surprisingly cool despite the sweltering heat outside. It opens early too, to cater to the breakfast crowd.
Food is lined up against one wall at the front but some items such as apam and roti are made to order. The food counter is divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.
Yarlpanam is the old name for Jaffna and as its name suggests, Yarl offers Yarlpanam food from the town of Jaffna in north Sri Lanka.
|Some of the vegetarian dishes available
Vegetarian fare is give equal prominence and there are at least 8 vegetarian curries offered daily, in addition to deepfried dishes such as cutlet RM8) and my favourite pavakai (bittergourd). Manager Murali tells me the menu is changed on a daily basis. Prices are reasonable too. A plate of rice with three vegetables cost RM7 and you also get complimentary rasam and chutney sambal.
|Vegetarian thali set: Rice with (from left) rasam, dhal, brinjal-tomato-garlic curry,
beetroot varai and vegetable cutlet
I love Indian vegetarian fare and Jaffna vegetarian fare is no less interesting. With pumpkin varai and beetroot varai, I don’t mind not having meat. Add in some fiery hot brinjal-tomato-garlic curry and I’m a happy diner. If you can’t take too hot food, the lentil sothi (cooked with turmeric and coconut) and bayam curry go well with rice.
Yarl serves both ordinary and parboiled rice; on Friday, the special is red rice.
|Fish curry with choices from head to tail
|Spicy Fried Tenggiri steaks
For non-vegetarian fare, there’s chicken, mutton and seafood. As Sri Lanka is an island, seafood plays a major role in its cuisine. I see at least 5-6 seafood dishes. There are fried fish, fried tenggiri, fish curry (including head and tail), prawn sambal and sura (shark) varai.
|Sura varai is flaked shark with desiccated coconut, turmeric, onion and chili
|Delicious Prawn Sambal
The sura varai is amazing. Shark flesh is flaked and cooked with desiccated coconut, onion, turmeric and chilli to give a dish deceptively simple in appearance but tops in flavour. The turmeric and chilli bring out the best side of the fish and coconut. The prawn sambal has large prawns, fresh and sweet. The sambal is quite hot but so yummy.
|Well marinated Fried Chicken
|Mutton bone curry is full of marrow
|Chicken Varai thali set
The fried chicken is well marinated, so is the chicken varuval but it is the mutton bone that makes me go “yes!”. There may not be too much meat as this is a bone dish but the soft, jelly-like marrow is what sets this dish apart. The way the bones are chopped up allows diners to easily suck the marrow.
|Atta Puttu served with dhal and Vendhaya Kulambu
Apart from rice, there’s dosai, roti, puttu and apam, served from 4pm. Yarl egg dosai (RM4) is made with turmeric, fried curry leaves and dried chilli. Good enough to eat on its own, it is served with condiments of onion curry, dhal and perhaps a meat/fish curry.
We ask for atta puttu, a wholemeal flour roll with coconut and served with dhal curry and the aromatic vendhaya kulambu (fenugreek curry).
|Chicken Kothu is a popular street food in Jaffna
Then there’s chicken kothu (RM10), that famous Jaffna street food that’s a complete meal in itself. Roti is chopped up and stirfried with leek, onion and scallion as well as egg. There’s also mutton (RM12) or prawn (RM15) kothu.
|Sweet apam is the perfect ending to any meal
One mustn’t leave Yarl without a taste of its apam, whether you like it plain (RM2), savoury (egg apam, RM3) or as dessert (sweet apam, RM2.50). All apam are freshly made, with crisp edges and a soft centre.
The sweet apam is my favourite. The sprinkle of brown sugar and drizzle of coconut cream in the moist centre complement the crisp edges perfectly for a super duper dessert to end a Yarlpanam meal.
50 Jalan Pedang Belia
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Daily: 7am to 10pm
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