Since Newtown’s Kammadhenu changed hands some years back, finding good Sri Lankan food in inner-Sydney has been a mission. That is until now, thanks to one of Toongabbie’s most popular Sri Lankan joints, Dish, opening a second venue on the waterside end of Glebe.
The Western Sydney original was renowned in the Sri Lankan community for its authentic and inexpensive food, and while it is still all about the bain-marie and takeaway, the Glebe venue is more refined. “The two restaurants are two different concepts,” says Dish’s owner Manjula Fernando, who was once a chef on the private yacht of the late Kerry Packer. “Here it's a la carte and everything is cooked fresh to order.”
Tables are covered in cloths, meals are often served in an entrée-main format and, thanks to some ornate Sri Lankan antiques, the dining room is far nicer than in many other restaurants at this pricepoint. “I wanted it to be Sri Lankan but contemporary,” says Fernando.
You will get better value in Toongabbie, but compared to anything around here it’s still bang for buck. The restaurant is regularly packed despite barely being open a few months. The dishes are mostly the same things Fernando has become famous for: Sri Lankan and South Indian classics such as kottu roti (roti chopped up and fried with egg and vegetables); dosa; biryani; and hoppers (bowl-shaped crepes made with a fermented rice flower). “Some of the curries we do a bit milder, but here they're fresher,” says Fernando. “But if you want it more spicy, you can just ask.”
Working in a made-to-order kitchen has also given Fernando the opportunity to create some popular Sri Lankan dishes he hasn’t been able to cook in his original restaurant, such as short-rib biryani and barramundi ambulthiyal. “This is a typical Sri Lankan dish where we marinate a barramundi [with tamarind and curry spices] and grill it in a banana leaf,” he says.
Once he’s settled in, Fernando hopes to start a breakfast service on weekends. The Toongabbie site is being run by Vidusha Surige, Fernando’s partner.
Dish: Sri Lankan Street Food
381 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
0414 313 474
Mon, Wed, Thu 5pm–9.30pm
Fri to Sun 12pm–2.30, 5pm–9.30pm