Yaal is the word for Jaffna so you get typically south Indian food here but with a spicy Sri Lankan twist. (Apologies for the crappy pictures, folks, we had to take them with a phone.) [Editor's Note: charge your camera
We loved the food mostly because of the spicy punch it packed, so it's not for those who can't handle a bit of chilli in their meals. We got a chicken biriyani (Rs. 390), rice with cuttlefish (Rs. 480), mutton curry (Rs. 400) and crab curry (Rs. 700). The prices are good considering the biriyani and rice came with plenty of sides, and the crab was the only thing that was on the pricey side, but then again it's crab.
First off, the biriyani here is one of the better ones in the city. It came with a big piece of roasted chicken and egg in a little silver pot, and I'd say was enough for two light meals, but considering how tasty it was and how hungry I was, it was just enough for my belly alone. A lot of places make the mistake of serving their biriyani dry like normal rice, but this dish was slightly oily and sticky, and best of all, spicy.
The rice and cuttlefish is a great pick, with loads of sides besides the cuttlefish curry. The highlight was of course the cuttlefish - thick big pieces in plenty, and again, nice and spicy.
Lastly the crab curry! It came in a wide silver tray of hot spicy curry - which tastes great slathered over your biriyani. It's a pain in the butt to crack open these guys and access the good stuff but when you do, you'll find the meat very soft and sweet.
Service & Ambience
It took about half an hour for the food to arrive which feels like an age, but we did order a lot including the crab so it probably takes a while to prepare. The food comes in banana leaves which is nice. There's not much else to say about the service. It's a typical south Indian small restaurant atmosphere, with metallic furniture, semi-clean floors and affordable food making the rounds to a working crowd on lunch break.
The view of the beach is right there, so it saves the place from feeling stuffy and adds some natural sea breeze ambience.
If you go towards the counter at the back, you can check out a little tank of crabs hanging out together, ignorant of the doom that must befall them (dun dun duuuun!).
We love the food at Yaal - if you're looking for tasty food to binge on for lunch or dinner and you don't give a hoot about ambience, it's the place to go. It's a great stop for seafood and biriyani, at only around 500-700 bucks a head.
Yaal Restaurant down Marine Drive still serves some very tasty and not-too-pricey food, and their crab curry is still good - though it's their biriyani that blew us away.
Another day another crab. Today I hit up Yaal Restaurant the cleaner, brighter better ventilated rival of my beloved Yarl Eat House
for my fix. Now I don't generally believe that scrupulous hygiene adds too much to food. Passable hygiene, solid customer demand and fresh food is usually enough for me. If you do like your tables gleaming, your waiters unstained and your food in a fancy metal thali and not plonked straight onto a banana leaf Yaal Restaurant is the place for you. It offers Jaffna food in Wellawatte without Yarl or Maiyuri's er... authentic? atmosphere.
The food is actually quite good - the set mutton lunch Rs. 450 was tasty but again not necessarily better than the same at a more street Wellawatte eatery. You're paying for the cleanliness and view of the sea but with good service and a fair amount of variety on the menu I didnt begrudge them their extra rupees. The prawn curry was actually very good but the real test was always going to be the crab. Would it really compare with my Yarl Eat House archetype?
A single specimen slathered in a rich and piping hot gravy was produced. Once it cooled to a finger friendly temperature I set to work and actually it was pretty yummy. Sweet flesh and perhaps a better sauce than Yarl however the crab just didnt have the succulence of the Eat House on a good day- and no roe. Why don't more people understand the indispensable tastiness of those delicious eggs? Still it was a respectable effort though at Rs 450 somewhat more expensive than the Eat House. However you do sweat less during a lunch time meal (when Yarl turns into a sauna) so I'm going to note this as a worthy lunch time crab stop.
The quality of the other dishes was also pretty high so I'd say definitely worth a visit for more than the crab.
Yaal vs Yarl (they both mean Jaffna)