Aliyaa @ Bukit Damansara: Lamprais on Sundays
July 26, 2017
By EDKL Writer A.A.
KL's premier Sri Lankan restaurant, Aliyaa, has been pleasing its patrons with classics like string hoppers, fish sothi and kiribath lamb for nearly a decade, but there's a new offering here that's poised to become a well-deserved smash: The banana leaf-wrapped Lamprais (RM28) is now available every Sunday, for dine-in and delivery.
This Dutch Burgher-influenced staple has stood the test of time for more than three centuries in Sri Lanka, and Aliyaa's recipe - the result of nearly half a year of tastings in Colombo and fine-tuning in Aliyaa's kitchen to ensure an authentic experience - is something that many Malaysians will enjoy immensely as well.
Unwrapping this oven-steamed treasure releases a potent fragrance that proclaims how rich and absolutely aromatic it is. The parcel of pleasure reveals a hearty, appetite-rousing meal, complete on its own: Fluffy short-grain rice cooked in a stock of cardamom and cloves (the kitchen relies on spices cultivated in Sri Lanka, no less), surrounded by boneless chicken meat, ash plantains, brinjal pahi (eggplant relish), blachan (shrimp paste) and frickadel (minced chicken meatball).
You might be tempted to sample each ingredient separately, but Aliyaa's chef Shiva (who hails from Sri Lanka's hill city of Nuwara Eliya, but has been with the restaurant for eight years) recommends mixing everything up thoroughly - that's how lamprais is traditionally consumed to savour its complex, unique dimensions.
Boom! Each spoonful promises an array of tastes and textures, simultaneously familiar and surprising. It's not punishingly fiery, but the heat is unmistakeable, lingering pleasantly on the palate. It's many things at one time - savoury and bold, starchy and meaty, grainy and gravied; it may be tricky to pinpoint exactly what you're tasting in each bite, but everything comes together harmoniously for a fulfilling symphony of addictiveness, with a real kick that'll keep you eating to the end. If you love flavour-packed rice recipes, this is certainly a should-try.
The lamprais is available every Sunday - enjoy it in the comfort of the restaurant, pick it up, or have it delivered for free, anywhere in the Klang Valley. Orders need to be placed with Aliyaa by 7pm on Saturday (via Facebook or by phone). A minimum order of two servings is required, but again, it's worth stressing that Aliyaa will send it to your doorstep for free, between 12pm-6pm on Sundays.
Besides the lamprais, we also dug into a signature dish available daily: The Colombo Crab (currently RM16.50 per 100g), featuring fleshy crabs generally flown in live from Sri Lanka, typically weighing between 1- 2 kilograms. The Colombo Crab surfaces in a deep, dark sauce that's sweetish and slightly spicy - we were happy to wipe the sauce clean after polishing off each morsel of the superbly succulent crustacean, prepared to perfection. Crab enthusiasts, take note. And for further seafood goodness, it's worth starting your meal here with Fish Cutlets (RM21), crisp on the outside, tender and tasty within.
We were probably too stuffed for dessert, but there's no resisting the the Vatilappam (RM10), a luscious custard pudding constructed of coconut, brown palm sugar, eggs, cinnamon and spices - so smooth, you could even slurp it straight off the plate. The Sweet Appam (RM6) is ideally eaten by folding it and biting into it by hand, getting the lovely moist base and impeccably crispy edges all at once in each mouthful.
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To complete this one-of-a-kind gastronomic adventure, Aliyaa boasts a unique cocktail selection that takes delightful cues from South Asian flavours - indulge in the KOT (RM29; a tropical-paradise medley of fresh coconut, Malibu and dark rum), Colombo Cup (RM28; a revitalising concoction that mixes Sri Lanka's Mendis arrack with dry vermouth and ginger ale) and Cinnabar (RM34; blended fresh coconut with Malibu, crushed ice, rock sugar, finished with a delicately fragrant cinnamon stick, also brought in from Sri Lanka). Many thanks to Aliyaa for one of our most satisfying lunches this month.
Aliyaa Restaurant & Bar
Daily, 11amâ€“3pm, 6pmâ€“11pm | Tel: 03-2092-5378
48 G&M, Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.