Since opening its doors just over a year ago, White Elephant has become a local favourite for authentic Sri Lankan food. I don’t have too much experience with the cuisine myself, and was excited to try it out.
The aromatic lamb curry may seem small, but the large chunks of lamb and potato meant that it was actually quite substantial. The lambs were cooked until tender, and the fluffy potatoes really took on the creaminess of the sauce.
We ordered String Hoppers out of curiosity, having never seen the dish elsewhere. It came with coconut sambol, which had a strong coconut flavour from the use of both coconut flesh and coconut milk, and added some crunch to the curry too.
The chicken curry was also part of the set, and I was surprised to see chicken on the bone being used. Although this meant that it was slightly more difficult to eat, the meat was extremely flavoursome, especially when you drizzle some of the sauce on top, which had quite a thin consistency. We thought that this was similar to a Malaysian curry, although the sauce consistency was quite different.
The string hoppers themselves turned out to be pancakes that were made of rice noodles akin to vermicelli. Although unusual, I did find this to be a little salty, especially when eaten with the chicken curry.
Our vegetarian dish of the night was eggplant moju, and this was unanimously voted best dish of the night. The pieces of the eggplant were first pan fried to result in great caramelisation, before being finished off in the pan with a mix of spices including cinnamon, making this a light and refreshing contrast to the heartier meat curries. The cooking method actually reminded me of Yuxiang eggplant, a Chinese dish of eggplant cooked in a soy-based sauce, although the flavours are quite different.
We originally wanted to try out the Pol Roti, but were told by the waitress that that it is not to everyone’s taste, and were talked into getting the Godamba Roti instead, which was essentially a plain roti. This did set a good benchmark though, the roti was fresh and flaky, and was perfect for dipping into all of the curries.
The Cheese Roti is the much more indulgent cousin of the Godamba Roti, and the stretchy cheese meant that this was good enough to eat on its own, but even better when eaten with the curries.
We were not going to try the yellow rice given the number of other carbs we had already ordered, but this is a signature side dish at White Elephant, and the waitress insisted on serving us with a smaller portion to try out, which we happily obliged with. The subtle creaminess of the coconut milk meant that this was mild and fragrant, and again, great for soaking up the curry sauces.
The food did take a while to come out at White Elephant, given that it is a mother-daughter operation. With only the daughter being the floor staff also meant it could be difficult to get her attention, especially when the restaurant was busy.
Living in the other side of town means that I don’t have the luxury of dropping by White Elephant to grab some takeaways for dinner, but the enticing and unique combination of flavours of Sri Lankan food has guaranteed my return.
How to get here:
White Elephant is located on Barkly Street, catch bus #220 and get off at Clarke Street/Barkly Street, and the restaurant is a minute walk away.
I dined as a guest of The White Elephant.