Fri, Apr 16, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Restaurant: Lanka Restaurant

Address: 48, Chungyi St, Shihlin District, Taipei (台北市士林區忠義街48號)
Telephone: (02) 2832 0153
Open: Lunch 11am to 2pm, dinner 5pm to 9pm (Closed Monday lunch)
Average meal: NT$250 plus drinks
Details: English menu, credit cards not accepted

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Enjoy Sri Lankan style curry at its best at the Lanka.


Downtown-dwelling Indian curry lovers fed up to the back teeth with having to fork out thousands of NT dollars for a run-of-the-mill slap-up meal should take a trip across the "Gulf of Manner," or the Waishuang River (外雙溪) and check out the Lanka Restaurant.

Located opposite Yangming Hospital (陽明醫院), the restaurant was opened by Damian Chee (齊興盛), an overseas Chinese from Sri Lanka whose father once owned a Chinese restaurant in Colombo, 15 years ago.

Once a hangout for illegal Sri Lankan workers until the early 1990s, when many of them were deported, the joint has built up a reputation with both locals and expats alike as one of the cheapest and tastiest authentic curry joints in town.

At the Lanka, diners can forget about the fancy trappings of many a Taipei curry eatery, as the interior is sparsely decorated and the fittings are not that far removed from your average local mom-and-pop diner. But then the Lanka, unlike the lush green mountainous country from whence its proprietor hails is not a place to enjoy vistas -- it is a place to eat.

Using two different types of curry powder -- regular and roasted -- and with the addition of differing proportions of spices such as cardamom, cumin and coriander as well as coconut milk, Sri Lankan curries are lighter than their gee- and yogurt-heavy Indian brethren.

The Lanka's menu is extensive, offering diners the choice of a selection of set meals which cost from NT$175 to NT$200, or individual dishes which cost an average of NT$150. Mildly spicy meat dishes cost NT$130 while the varied selection of vegetable curries -- -- which include spinach, potato, lentil, a tasty pumpkin and an interesting mushroom and cashew nut -- cost between NT$90 and NT$110.

For diners looking to experiment, then one of Chee's sambols, or Sri Lankan salads, makes for a refreshing way to begin any meal. Costing from NT$90 to NT$110, the zesty chili and lemon-loaded salads are available in half a dozen varieties, of which the okra comes highly recommended. Other traditional Sri Lankan treats include spiced tomato palandies (NT$230 - NT$250) and poories NT$140/60), or lightly fried bread.

Unlike Indian eateries, where the nan bread is king, at the Lanka it is the roti that supplements the meal, at NT$70 for a pair.

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