There’s a queue on the street at the quieter north end of Glebe Point Road. Perhaps lured in by the simpering Broadsheet review, the crowd are here to try Sri Lankan Street Food at a second outlet for Toongabbie favourite, Dish.
While the Western Sydney restaurant is known for value and authenticity, owner and chef Manjula Fernando has made some menu adaptations to accommodate his impressions about the diners of Glebe. While he is probably correct in assuming he needed to lose the bain-marie and cook-to-order, I am less convinced by the decision to tame the fiery cuisine.
We start with Beef Kottu Roti ($19), which feels like Sri Lanka’s answer to pad Thai and Chinese fried rice. It takes flaky roti bread and chops it up with vegetables, beef and eggs on a flat hotplate, where the chopped pieces of bread stand in for noodles or grains of rice. The resulting mix is drizzled with a runny curry sauce, and has the feeling of genuine poverty cuisine where leftovers are cleverly re-imagined. Bulked out with cabbage, it gets a bit boring after a while, with only subtle heat and spice to play with.
From the open kitchen packed with staff you’ll get a glimpse of the hopper production line. The team of chefs swirl a batter made of fermented rice flour and coconut milk into a row of heated pans until it’s bubbling on one side and crisp on the other, creating the signature bowl-shaped thin crepes.
The Hopper Pack ($19.90) gives you three hoppers to play with, including one filled with a fried egg. They're accompanied by some sweet caramelized onion relish called seeni sambal, and a katta sambol that seemed light on both chill and pungent dried maldive fish.
You can also choose your own pot of curry; with the gentle, white fish curry capturing our attention.
As you’ll see with the hoppers and kottu roti, eggs are used extensively to bulk out smaller amounts of protein in Sri Lankan cuisine. You'll also find them in the Egg Roti with Onion and Chilli ($9.50), which as a result, is dense and filling with a pleasant bit of green chilli bite.
While it read well on the menu, the Prawn Curry ($24) was a bit disappointing. The prawns were flavourless, and the watery curry (this is a common feature of Sri Lankan curries) wasn’t compelling on well-separated Rice ($3/person) or as a dip for our aforementioned roti.
Even a double helping of Pol Sambol ($3.50) couldn't rescue it. With coconut being a key building block of Sri Lankan cuisine, this spicy scraped coconut dish was a meal highlight, mostly because it was the first dish that had any real heat. I wish it had arrived earlier in the meal.
My other disappointment was the banana leaf wrapped Lamprais ($19.90) that I’d visited the restaurant to try wasn’t available, despite being listed on the regular menu. You can however BYO, so I'd call this Glebe newcomer a bit of a mixed bag. Hopefully time will show Fernando that the diners of Glebe can handle the authenticity he offers to Toongabbie.
Dish: Sri Lankan Street Food
381 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (02) 8626 2169