Dining Out: Araliya, Hawthorn

by April@MyFoodTrail on February 9, 2010

in Dining Out, Hawthorn, Sri Lankan

Araliya
629 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn VIC
(03) 9818 5120
http://www.araliya.com.au/

Cuisine: Sri Lankan
BYO: No, but reasonably priced wine list
Prices: Entrées $15-$23, mains $24-$36
Parking: Along Glenferrie Road

Inside Araliya

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.

Scallops in a ‘hopper’ – plump scallops cooked with a spicy roasted coconut paste, nestled in a bowl shaped rice pancake $20

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.

Baked crab – fresh crabmeat cooked with green chilli & cheese, baked in the shell to a golden brown $23

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.

Jaggery beef – braised grain fed beef in a robust sauce of roasted spices & kitul jaggery (clarified sap of the kitul palm flowers) $28

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.

Fish roasted in banana leaves – adaptation of an ancient Sri Lankan cooking style of wrapping food in banana leaves with aromatic spices to seal the flavours, see how good our fish tastes (market price) – Blue eye $34

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.

Saffron rice – basmati rice cooked in saffron $6

We also ordered a side of roti, which was flaky and perfect for eating with the jaggery beef.

Godamba roti – parchment thin flat bread cooked on a griddle $4.50

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

Araliya on Urbanspoon

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Iron Chef Shellie February 9, 2010 at 9:59 pm

That beef looks like a fantastic dish! I'll have to try it if and when I go there!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef February 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

Looks good, especially the scallops. I like Sri Lankan food and don't eat it enough.

Although I am a huge coconut fan, I am still pretty sure I wouldn't be tempted by the coconut crumbed lamb brains! The coconut:brain ratio would have to be pretty high for me to consider it!

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mademoiselle délicieuse February 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Not familiar with Sri Lankan food myself but I do like hoppers and roti!

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Vee - A Melbourne Munchkin. February 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Interesting – you don't often see Sri Lankan food, well anywhere in Melbourne! I think the reason the rendang was pretty Malaysian is that there are lots of Sri Lankans in Malaysia, hence the influence (although they mostly refer to themselves as Ceylonese)! If I go, I'd get the lamb brains for sure. Coconut. Lamb. Brains. Sounds like a winner to me!

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Adrian @ Food Rehab February 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm

lamb brains?! Yep, good choice to go with the safer options! LOL

Scallops were a good choice- can't go wrong with that. I go past this place nearly everyday for work…cheers for some insight into the joint.

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Jo - SecondHelping February 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

We used to go here when we lived in Hawthorn. Food id good and you must have got the same waitress that we normally did – pushing the sides!

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Anita February 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

the jaggery beef sounds beautiful! Some of the prices do seem a bit pricey..

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Rilsta February 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Hi Shellie: I would recommend the beef!

Hi Conor: LOL! I would probably try just a bite if someone else ordered it!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Well, it's better than me – I never knew about hoppers until I visited Araliya!

Hi Vee: I don't think there are many solely Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne. There seems to be an Indian one on every corner though!

Hi Adrian: I thought I should finally get around to trying it!

Hi Jo: Hehehe, looks like she hasn't changed hey?!

Hi Anita: It is on the pricey side, but not something you would have all the time.

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Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) February 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

we have been meaning to go forever! now you have really sold me.

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Rilsta February 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Kat: You must get the jaggery beef when you go!

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Jade October 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

We tried them last year. Although the food was above average the way they were treating people was far from being polite. I've heard that the owner takes advantage of those poor students by paying them low wages. She also keeps the tips! That's awful! I wish someone could stop these bastards! 🙁

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April @ My Food Trail October 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

Hi Jade: I don't know anything about that and it's an issue you should take up with them directly.

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Anonymous June 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

This place sounds like a high end place with all the fancy trimmings. Glen waverley has a store called the "Elephant house" where Sri lankans generally go to get imported Sri laNkan food stuff however they also offer a range of take away rice and curry options As well as rotis and hoppers!! Check it out if your keen to try some authentic flavors 🙂

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April @ My Food Trail June 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Anonymous: Thanks for the suggestion! Next time I'm at Glen Waverley, I will have a look. I really liked the hoppers.

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Dulani October 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I’m originally from Sri Lanka and lamb brains is not something that is synonymous with Sri Lankan cuisine..neither is baked crabs for that matter..although we do a very good crab curry.. I’ve been to Araliya about two years ago and I found the food to be not that authentic and quite over priced for what it is worth.. Sigiri in Northcote offers real Sri Lankan food and is certainly good value.. The service is a lot nicer too.. They do a fantastic buffet on Fridays and Saturdays which includes unlimited freshly cooked hoppers 🙂

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April@MyFoodTrail October 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for letting me know Dulani! I will give Sigiri a try.

I guess Araliya is catering more for the restaurant experience, more so than authentic Sri Lankan food.

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Dulani October 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Possibly.. 🙂 Hope to see something on Sigiri once you try it.. I haven’t been there in a while myself so hopefully it’s still good 🙂

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