I have never truly indulged myself in one of The Minty’s famous crawls. I went to the Japanese dessert crawl but I believe that one was also thrown with SauceLA and, well, I was high on pain killers after having my wisdom tooth removed. I was texting Yelpers asking what stop they were at next but by the time I figured out how to get there they had already left. I ended up having a solo crawl and hit up a few stops on my own. Since then, Minty has become a close friend and after her choosing of some fabulous dining options in the last few months, I was stoked to join her Sri Lankan Crawl last Saturday. My experience with Sri Lankan food is very limited, in that, I have only eaten it once in my hometown of Santa Cruz. That was such an Uncouth Gourmand occasion. I brought my 90 year old Jewish Grandpa, his trainer (that’s what he likes to call her), and my mom to this cute little restaurant and after we arrived in separate cars we noticed they were closed. My mom, a Jewish mother with guilt has her middle name, explained to the owner who was just there to change a lightbulb that her daughter (me) was in from out of town and her father is old and we were all looking forward to lunch. She kindly let us in and cooked us a feast. The food was great, but I felt bad because the whole time my grandpa was complaining about the lack of customers despite how many times we told him the restaurant was supposed to be closed. Back to Saturdays crawl, Josie was working and I was so happy that it wasn’t stormy out that I bathed for too long and dressed in a blue dress. I looked cute but was freezing and late. Thankfully, when I walked in to the first stop, Priyani Ceylon Cafe in Northridge, there were these beautiful appetizers waiting for me.
The ball was fish, the rod was beef, and my favorite was the empanada looking thing with chicken and potatoes. I made myself at home. Took someone’s iced tea and began chowing down. I had no idea what had already been ordered but I was so busy talking to these foodies strangers at a big table in this tiny restaurant that I didn’t care. I could have spent all day talking to my new favorite climbing couple (ClimingDancer and ClimbinChiro) but I was at the other side of the table and it was nice to meet new people. I believe there were 13 people in total. The next thing served was something unlike I have ever seen before it was like a nest of rice noodles. Since so far I have been horrible with technical names, and describing things in terms of shapes, I will attempt to get all foodie technical on your ass….listening to Dr. Dre as I type this. Apparently these things are uniquely Sri Lankan and are called String Hoppers, I swear, technical name. If you want to eat traditional Sri you eat with your hands and these vermicelli nests are what C. Thi Nguyen of the LA Times call, “possibly the greatest tool for eating with your fingers known to man.” They were awesome served with coconut sambol, dal, and some curry chicken.
The next main dish up was the kotthu roti it was like cut up chow fun noodles with chicken and veggies. It was probably my favorite. The main picture was the other main entree and I took one glimpse at it and said, “This will be my favorite.” I am a sucker for raisins in everything and if I did see Raisin in a Sun, I’d say my fictional idol’s line:
Leo Markus: And my deepest, darkest secret is that I don’t like any food with raisins in but I do like raisins.
Grace Adler: See we already have a problem. I love raisins in everything. I even went to see “A Raisin In The Sun” because I thought there would be raisins in it!
As good as that second dish was the cashews, chicken, raisins and rice it was the roti was the winner.
By the way, I have done a horrible job explaining this. All of these plates you see had a twin match on the other side of the table. Not only that but like my first experience eating Sri Lankan all the food was made by our server. To make it even more impressive it was all made by Priyani herself! We were all stuffed and took boxes to go. None of us quite grasped that the crawl had just begun. Minty went easy on us and let us go to a Sri Lankan market in between to let our tummies rest. We drove to Sri Lankan Delight, a small ethnic grocery store. I shockingly bought nothing. We then walked the 6 blocks to our next stop, Curry Bowl in Tarzana, which was a Sri Lankan buffet. I was already full and this buffet was luke warm and nothing to write home about. It was 1/2 the price of Priyani ($10 a person versus $22) and less than half the quality. Oh well, ours standards were raised high in the first stop. Here was my buffet plate:
I was so excited about my leftovers at the first place, but after I left the crawl I got my nails painted and headed to the International Wine Festival so I decided to give my delicious food to a man down on his luck in Hollywood. He was thrilled and the Sri Lankan Crawl continued on. Here’s more on Priyani from The Minty, Pleasure Palate and the LA Times! Check it out, dine there, and then tell us what you think.