May 5, 2019

Jaffna Cuisine @ Yarl Restaurant

Unforgetable Flavours of Jaffna Cuisine

Sharing similar flavours with South Indian cuisine, Jaffna cuisine is deliciously humble and tasty. Walking into Yarl Restaurant, discreetly hidden on a narrow bustling street in Brickfields, the restaurant has been serving Yarlpanam food from the capital city of Sri Lanka for more than a decade.

A recent refurbishment brought new life to the ambiance. The new ambiance is fairly modern and has lots of photos of Sri Lanka to add as a reminder of its origin. Standard wood and black steel furniture are spaciously well-spread in the restaurant. Diners get full view of the standard food station where the daily spread are on display. Despite the restaurant being non-air-conditioned, it was cool and airy with plenty of ceiling fans to keep diners like me pretty comfortable.

Yarl is no new kid on the block. The restaurant has been operation for more than 10 years and many locals make this their daily food hunts throughout the day. There’s plenty of staffs so service is fast and brisk.

The menu is also kept simple and short but there are enough daily specials to keep diners returning for Jaffna dishes. Open early at 7.00am, Yarl serves various dishes from breakfast to lunch, tea and dinner till 10.00pm daily.

Drinks to get us started, a fruity Mango Lassi (RM8) and Yarl Masala Tea (RM4)

Lunch is often the busiest time of the restaurant and many diners are seen tucking into their Thali Lunch Set that is available from 12noon to 3.00pm daily. There’s vegetarian and non-vegetarian options available and smallest set start with 3 vegetable dishes with rice priced at RM7 onwards. Manager Murali stated that there are at least 15 vegetarian and 8 non-vegetarian dishes available each day.

We savored several thali sets and perhaps the hardest part of the meal was selecting a main dish as there were so many enticing dishes to choose from. The Chicken Varai Thali Set featured a moreish spicy chicken fry served with hot and spicy eggplant tomato curry and some leafy greens cooked in coconut curry along with classic crispy pavakkai or fried bittergourd. The chicken is moist and tender while the eggplant curry was a heat bomb that sparkled fireworks in our mouth!

There is also another signature dish of Mutton Bone Varuval that one simply must order. Thick and rich with deep spiced notes from slow and long hours of cooking to render the mutton bone till oozing with soft gelatinous marrow richness, the varuval is marvelous with rice.

The Fish Curry or Fish Poriyal is equally yummy with a large thick piece of mackerel cooked in red curry. The thali sets are served with pappadums, rasam and chutney and diners can opt for regular or parboiled rice and red rice (available only on Friday).

Other good eats of meat and seafood curries include Chicken Varuval, Chicken Pirattal, Chicken Curry, Mutton Peratal, Fried Fish, Fish Cutlet, Fish Head Curry, Prawn Sambal and more.

The vegetable options will leave one speechless as there are Pavakkai, Pumpkin Varai, Beetroot Varai,  Brinjal-Tomato-Garlic Curry, Lentil Sothi and Vegetable Cutlet and more.

If there is one dish that tops my list of Jaffna cuisine, it would have to be the Sura Varai. Shredded shark flesh is cooked with lots of aromatic herbs and grated coconut is utterly divine in flavours and texture. The balance of heat with the herbs and spices is executed with perfection, so much so that I would gladly tuck into this dish alone with rice.

Besides rice and dishes, Yarl serves up other dishes such as dosai, puttu, appam and kothu from 4.00pm onwards. The Yarl Dosai (RM3) or Yarl Egg Dosai (RM4) is nicely tainted with yellow turmeric to give it this golden yellow hue on the fermented rice batter. Yarl also offers Plain Dosai (RM2), Ghee Dosai (RM3) and Masala Dosai (RM5) to go with curries and sambals.

The Atta Puttu (RM2.50) is freshly steamed and the cylindrical wheat puttu with grated coconut is served with lentil curry and sambol. This one makes a lovely and healthy vegetarian option for tea or even a light meal for dinner.

Kothu is a classic Sri Lankan street food of stir-fried chopped bread or roti with meat, seafood or vegetables. The chopping sound of the roti against the flat steel pan can usually be heard at any kothu stall or restaurant. Yarl serves several options of kothu and we tried the Chicken Kothu (RM10). The dish is best described as a stir-fried chopped up roti with spices and your choice of ingredients. There is also Mutton or Prawn Kothu available.

We saved the best for last and the Apam (RM2) and Egg Apam (RM3) at Yarl was simply delicious! The dish is so humble and simple, yet it tasted so yummy that one can surely enjoy quite a few of this Sri Lankan pancake with crispy edges and soft fluffy center. One can opt to savor this as a savory version with sambals and egg or sweet with caramelized sugar. Whichever one you choose, this apam will leave you with a delicious note that warrants a return to Yarl Restaurant alone for this dish!

Psst… I heard that Yarl serves a mean Jaffna Crab Curry… hope to be back soon to try this…

50 Jalan Pedang Belia
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6010-360 6624

Opening Hours: Daily 7am to 10pm


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