Review: Elita Restaurant, Galle, Sri Lanka

On the very first full day of our time in Sri Lanka, it became clear that the humidity was going to be the downfall for many of the members in our family party. While K, my brother, my father and I were able to persevere in the humidity, thanks in large part to our initial stay in Singapore, many of my aunts and uncles wilted in the humidity.

After just an hour of exploring Galle Fort’s walls and the town, many of my aunts and uncles decided to head into the air-conditioned comfort of a restaurant for lunch before heading back to the hotel. My group of four people persevered for a few more hours walking along the fort walls before heading into Elita Restaurant for an early lunch.  

While it’s still located within the fort, Elita is slightly off the beaten track and isn’t on one of the main streets with the other restaurants and cafes. Instead, it’s located in a more residential area. As I mentioned, we were early for lunch, and were in fact the first group to arrive in the restaurant – clearly, midday is too early for lunch in Sri Lanka!

This did mean that we got good service though, as the waiter was able to concentrate on the needs of our table. In ordering freshly-caught fish off the hand-written whiteboard menu, I wasn’t able to decide what type of fish we wanted. Naturally, the waiter brought out both fish – snapper and garupa – out to the table for us to inspect and choose from!

Fresh Steamed Full Fish (Garupa) in Curry Sauce with Garlic Butter Rice, Market Rates (about 1300 LKR)

We ended up choosing the garupa, Fresh Steamed Full Fish in Curry Sauce for the ridiculously low price of about $11 AUD. With those prices, why not eat fresh fish every day?! This curry sauce was quite light and aromatic, which complemented the delicious garupa. The fresh chopped chillies, herbs and spring onion really finished off the fish perfectly. 

Fresh Octopus Salad with Mango Dressing Salad, 2250 LKR

We ordered a Fresh Octopus Salad with Mango Dressing – deliciously marinated octopus served with freshly diced tomato and Spanish onion which gave it that extra lift. The sweet and fruity mango dressing was a winner as well. Is this dish for everyone? No – not everyone is a fan of the texture of octopus. But even my brother who is quite a picky eater was very happy to eat this dish, so I think that says something about how tender the octopus was, and how well the dressing went with it!

Fresh Tuna Steak with Lime Cream Sauce, Fries and Salad, 1750 LKR

The last main we ordered was the Fresh Tuna Steak with Lime Cream Sauce, fries and salad on the side. This wasn’t anything special – not when compared to the garupa. In fact, the tuna was actually a little bit dry, so the lime cream sauce was much needed to make it a bit more palatable. This is definitely not a winning dish, and we would have done better to order another garupa cooked in another sauce. Lesson learned – freshly caught local fish is a better choice!

The steamed fish (first dish) came with Garlic Butter Rice, and they put some Stir-fried Kangkong on top for us as well. The rich buttery rice helped to fill the corners of our stomachs and I was able to kid myself into thinking that it was vaguely healthy because of the greens on top…wishful thinking!

Elita Restaurant was a great find in the seaside town of Galle in Sri Lanka. It’s just far enough from the touristy centre that only those truly dedicated to great food will make the effort to find it, but close enough that it’s not a hassle to get there.

The food is cooked well and while definitely Sri Lankan in nature, has a slight East Asian or European touch which may come from the years spent training in Europe by the head chef. A great place to visit for those who find street food challenging, but don’t want to eat at tourist traps either. Fresh seafood at a reasonable price (just skip the tuna) – you can’t beat it.

Elita Restaurant is located at 34 Middle Street in Galle, Sri Lanka.

Review: Hopper Kadé Pop-up at Harold Park Tramsheds, Sydney

Even though I now live in Melbourne, I do try to stay up-to-date of what’s happening in the Sydney food scene via various Instagram accounts, blogs I still follow, and more. Towards the end of September and into October, it seemed like the one word on everyone’s lips was Tramsheds.

Once an abandoned tram depot, Tramsheds at Harold Park is now a destination of choice for all Sydney foodies, housing a number of foodie hotspots (Belle’s, Messina, and more) in its revitalised industrial setting. So when my friend Sarojini suggested that we have our catchup at Tramsheds during a recent trip to Sydney, I immediately said yes. I like the hype of a new food destination as much as the next person!  

tramsheds-01

If you want to be truly authentic to the ‘Tramsheds’ history, you can take the one single Sydney light rail line from Central to Jubilee and walk for a while…or you can do what most people seem to be doing, and drive and park at the site. It’s not cheap though – if you plan on staying and lingering over a two or three hour meal at one of the dining destinations inside, you could find yourself paying up to $30 in parking fees. 

tramsheds-02

The inside of the Tramsheds follows a neo-industrial look and feel. There’s an overabundance of glass, exposed brick, steel frames and open ceilings with exposed beams. With a few faux medicinal / alchemist jars scattered around the joint, there’s no mistaking Tramsheds for anything other than what it is – a hipster’s paradise. 

tramsheds-03

We chose to try one of the pop-ups that the Tramsheds host in their ‘Artisan Lane’. On the weekend we were there, it was all about Hopper Kadé (co-founder is Kumar from the third season of MasterChef Australia), promoting the delicious flavours of Sri Lankan hoppers. With four of us there – Sarojini, her husband Neale, K and myself – we ordered quite a feast!

tramsheds-04

We tried three different hoppers – a vegetarian (dahl) hopper, meat (beef curry) hopper, and what was termed an ‘Aussie’ hopper, complete with bacon and egg. We ordered extra sides for each hopper of course – a fried coconut topping, dahl on the side, and a green vegetable ‘mallung’. 

Having never tried a hopper before, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I went in with no expectations and ended up loving it – a thin crispy ‘bowl’ not dissimilar to a crepe (but tastier!) with a delicious mix of ingredients – poached egg, caramelised bacon bits, fresh coconut, chilli, lime, pickled cucumber and tomato…it was a remarkable mix of flavours and textures.

tramsheds-05

We also ordered a beef curry rice box with all the sides to try something slightly different than a hopper. Honestly though? Just stick with the hoppers! The ingredients in the rice box (curry, mallung, dahl, etc) are all available in hoppers, and taste superior in a hopper when compared to the rice box – it’s all about the thin and crispy crepe bowl.

tramsheds-06

Unfortunately Hopper Kadé only had a short residency at the Tramsheds in the first weekend of October, but they have two more coming up this month in November. Find out more on their Facebook page…and try to pop by to see them in the Tramsheds if you’re in Sydney!

Having now had my first Sri Lankan hopper, I honestly can’t wait to go to Sri Lanka later this year for our holiday. It’ll be two weeks of tea plantations, hoppers, curries, dahls, and more…I can’t wait! 

Harold Park Tramsheds is located at 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge, Sydney.