A SPICY AFFAIR
At Aliyaa, Sri Lankan flavours come alive, with every mouthful an aromatic explosion.
Taking spices and exotic flavours to a whole new level, Aliyaa in Bukit Damansara certainly lives up to its reputation, exciting and enticing the taste buds with Sri Lankan flavours. Spread across two floors, the minimal yet picturesque interior exudes a tranquil and contemporary vibe – a perfect place to escape the hectic crowds of KL.
With polished cement floors and bars, walls are decorated with intimate black and white photographs of local life in Sri Lanka. Taken by the owner himself, the cultural photographs are one-of-kind and are also available for diners to buy. The generous space within Aliyaa is warmed with ambient lighting and soft background music, creating an elegant and romantic setting.
The menu features a range of family recipes that are prepared and cooked by Sri Lankan chefs. Sri Lanka is of course famous for its highly-sought after spices, such as cinnamon, curry leaves, cardamoms and cloves – and also its seafood, namely crabs. Combining spices and rich flavours, dishes burst with exoticness and diners are definitely left in awe over the unique and interesting flavours.
To kick-start the Sri Lankan affair, there are a good variety of appetisers to choose from. The Fish Cutlets and Prawn Vadai are particularly special – the Fish Cutlets made from a flaky but meaty tuna fish are mixed with a soft potato filling full of flavour with a good kick of spice; the Prawn Vadai is combined with a spicy dhal mix that shells it around the prawn. These appetisers are enhanced even more with the Sri Lankan Sambal Set, 4 sambals which really put your taste buds to the test. The Seeni Sambal is a sweet caramelised onion sambal and is the mildest of the 4; Pol Sambal is a subtly spicy and dry coconut sambal; Karupillary Sambal is made with curry leaves and an array of aromas and spices creating a unique blend; and Katta Sambal is for those that can handle the heat being made from a mix of chilli and fish.
More for sharing, Kothu Corner features Sri Lankan favourites – Kothu Roti and Sting Hopper Kothu. The Seafood String Hopper Kothu is a delightful surprise, full of flavour and packed with an assortment of seafood. This dish is a Sri Lankan speciality prepared from spaghetti-like strings of unprocessed rice dough squeezed through a sieve onto small oven trays, which are steamed to perfection. It is then fried with a special blend of spices and chillies with a choice of chicken, lamb, beef, seafood or vegetarian.
When it comes to the mains, the A La Carte has something for everyone, including chicken, beef mutton, prawn, fish, vegetables and crab selections. For those after something milder, the Fish Sothi is perfect, being cooked in coconut milk, lemon grass, garlic, shallots and curry leaves, leaving an exotic yet palatable aroma. The sauce from the Fish Sothi goes particularly well with the Plain String Hopper too, absorbing the delicious aromatic coconut sauce.
The Crab Varai is a dry dish, but extremely scrumptious, where the crab meat is shallow fried with ginger, garlic, turmeric and fresh coconut. Crab Meat Curry on the other hand is saucy and spicy, so use the Doosara Roti, a pan grilled flat bread with grated coconut, onion and chilli, to soak up the delicious curry. For those wanting something hearty, meaty and flavourful, the Mutton Bone is highly recommended, where bone, meat and marrow are blended with traditional Sri Lankan spices. Adding some greenery to the meal, the Vallarai Keerai Sambal is a lovely fresh and light salad, packing a punch with chillies and lime, but balanced with fresh coconut.
To complement the explosion of flavours, the drinks menu will not fall short of impressing. The selection of mocktails, cocktails and teas all wonderfully accompany the meal. The popular Illusion cocktail is a vodka-based drink mixed with triple sec, midori, lime juice and topped with homemade lemonade – refreshing, light and slightly sinful. The rum-based Cinna Bar cocktail is rich and delectable blended with fresh coconut flesh, cashew nuts and sugar. For non-alcoholic options, Pink Lips and Virgin Pain Killer are lush and fruity choices, which will soothe the spices dancing around your mouth.
Rounding off the meal, dessert at Aliyaa is a must. Go for the Brandy Appam if you’re after a sweet and boozy finish, where sugar pieces and brandy on the apam will be set alight, evaporating the alcohol and caramelising the sugar. For a traditional finish, the Vatilaapam will complete your Sri Lankan feast with its fragrant and luscious rich pudding, made from coconut, brown palm sugar, eggs and spices. Overall, your taste buds will be in for a treat at Aliyaa.