Kammadhenu is an unusual restaurant for me to choose because it's across the Harbour Bridge all the way over in Neutral Bay. I found it after a few people recommended their Newtown stores. It's also the first Sri Lankan restaurant I have reviewed so (understandably) I was most excited by the Sri Lankan dishes, though they also serve Malaysian and South Indian food on the large menu.
A really good reason to come here is the incredibly low prices, but even if that's how you end up at Kammadhenu, I am sure you'll return because the food is exceptional. Owner Sriram Nageshsri is undeniably proud of Kammadhenu: “There are five good Sri Lankan restaurants in Sydney and I have three of them,” including his two other stores on King Street, Newtown.
We're sitting in the blue-lit bar which is open to the street on one side. It's a big restaurant with lots of room (250 seats in fact). You can dine in a star lit atrium too! For me though, the funky music (chosen by the funky bar man) and the blue nightclub style lighting in this section made me feel at home.
It’s hard to know what to mention first because I enjoyed everything. I started with an exotic Sri Lankan Breeze ($15) cocktail made on Ceylon Arrack. There was a fermented edge to this coming from coconut milk and pineapple juice, but strangely (as I would normally hate this combination common in drinks like the Pina Colada) I really quite liked it. I tried the Ceylon Arrack straight too - it's a strong taste, tough to disguise in a cocktail, but this one does it well. On the right you see a Sweetie Now ($15), a pleasant combination of Baileys, Kahlua, Milk and Chocolate Liqueur.
The Lamb Rolls ($1.50 each, minimum order 2) were our first taste of the extreme flavour journey we were about to embark upon. Such rich, bold tastes are contained within. My dining companion started to get very excited. 'Do they make Rendang?' was his next question. The accompanying Green Chilli Sauce was full of flavour too!
The Egg, Onion and Cheese Dosai ($8) was quite special because they naturally ferment the rice flour batter (no yeast) resulting in exceptionally crisp dosai. They could be Sydney’s best! This was only one example of a filling - you can choose from a selection of more than twenty types! I liked it best dipped in the dahl on the left.
The Onion Pakoda ($6.00) makes a great bar snack, and I like the taste of the Besan (or chickpea flour) the light, crunchy batter is made of.
The Lamb Chuka ($14) a dry curry with coriander, pepper and mustard seeds pictured on the right was the best curry; remarkably it’s also the most expensive dish on the menu! The Eggplant Curry ($10) which I failed to photograph is also a winner; as is Lemon Rice ($4) which would particularly suit a seafood curry, though it managed to help freshen your mouth after the meatier selection we had too. In the foreground of my photo is the Chicken Chettinad ($10) which was also nice, but not a stand-out.
The excellent Garlic Roti ($4) pictured above was one of the best I have had. By the way, beer’s an excellent match for this cuisine and their amazing selection includes German Bitburger (on tap) and longnecks of Kingfisher ($8.80). While you're at it, try ordering a coca-cola - you get an Indian version called Thums Up which I really enjoyed (there is no 'b' on the label). When you order Beef Kothu Roti ($9) expect to hear some banging from the kitchen – it’s a filling chopped roti dish which reminded me of Pad Thai.
This papery Hopper with Milk and Jaggery ($3) was lapped up for dessert double time. Jaggery is a type of sugar and apparently if you boil it and take off the foam with a spoon and drink it, it's a potent alcohol. The owner implied you would be unconscious for a day. I might give this theory a test if I can find any!
All up, a flavoursome evening which doesn't put too much of a strain on your wallet!
12 Waters Road, Neutral Bay
Ph: (02) 9953 9999