629 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn VIC
(03) 9818 5120
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
BYO: No, but reasonably priced wine list
Prices: Entrées $15-$23, mains $24-$36
Parking: Along Glenferrie Road
Araliya is located on Glenferrie Road, not far from the corner of Burwood Road. It is one of those places in our area that we always drive past but never think of visiting. I have never tried Sri Lankan food before and naively thought it was like Indian food which I don’t particularly enjoy. Much to my surprise, Sri Lankan cuisine has flavours more similar to Malaysian cuisine than Indian cuisine… or at least the food we ordered at Araliya did!
There was a selection of 6 entrées on the menu, the stand out one being the coconut crumbed lamb brains! Hubby and I, unfortunately, are not that adventurous, so we went with the “safer” options! The first entrée to arrive was the scallops in a hopper. A hopper is a crispy, bowl shaped pancake made from rice flour and can be sweet or savoury, much like the better known roti. Having never eaten a hopper before, I can’t offer an opinion as whether this is genuine, but I liked it and it was a good vehicle to mop up the coconutty scallop sauce.
The second entrée we ordered was a baked crab in its shell. All the meat had been removed from the crab shell and mixed with a creamy sauce, then put back and baked. The crab was served with a rather dense, coconut wholemeal bread which I found to be dry. The crab itself lacked depth of flavour and seemed to have an unpleasant bitter after taste. Hubby didn’t mind it though.
The first main to arrive was the jaggery beef with a thin strip of coconut as garnish. Jaggery is actually a type of traditional unrefined sugar, a concentrated product of cane juice without the separation of the molasses and crystals. Hubby and I really enjoyed this dish. It was very similar to the Malaysian rendang, though slightly sweeter. The beef was amazing – it was the most tender, melt in the mouth meat you are likely to taste! The owner happened to come around when we were eating the beef and I was gushing about how soft it was and she said it was beef cheek that had been cooked for 11 hours. This is a must try dish.
The second main was a fish roasted in banana leaves. On the menu it doesn’t specify the type of fish and it is marked “market price”, but this is so they can use the freshest fish. On our day of visit, the fish was a blue eye. The fish itself was well cooked and the sauce was full of flavour. It looked like the Malaysian sambal fish, but tasted different.
The waitress was a bit pushy with the vegetable dishes and sides, so we found ourselves ordering the basmati rice when it wasn’t really necessary and ended up being too much food. I find basmati rice too dry, much preferring the fluffy jasmine rice I grew up on.
We also ordered a side of roti, which was flaky and perfect for eating with the jaggery beef.
Overall: The food is upmarket Sri Lankan which is on the expensive side and the serves are small, but worth it. It didn’t look like a lot of food but we were satisfied at the end of the meal. The service was first class. The waitress really knew her stuff with the food and was very efficient with refilling our wine and water glasses. This is definitely one of the best meals we have had in the Hawthorn area.
The best dish was the jaggery beef and the least favourite dish was the baked crab.
Would I return? Yes, it was good Sri Lankan food.
Over & Out, Rilsta xx