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The Battle of the Fish Rolls - 2018

YAMU team gobbled down 14 popular fish rolls in Colombo for a taste-off.

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Having a myriad of absolutely delish short eats is one of the many things that we love about this country. From classic local snacks to Western infused goodies, Sri Lanka’s finger food culture is pretty darn rich. 

The fish roll, particularly stands out from this bunch, because let’s admit - a bakery without a fish roll is like “parippu nathi hotale” (hotel that doesn’t serve dhal). Be it an office treat, tea time or a breakfast - this curry filled, crispy, golden brown encrusted, deep fried pancake-like snack is perfect for any time of the day, and it's a beloved, common element in any bakery on this island. 

Be that as it may, finding the best fish roll is no easy task which is why the YAMU team decided to bring 14 of the most popular fish rolls from streetside bakeries in CMB on to a single table for a taste-off - because that's how we roll. 

The Contenders & Measurements

The following table lists down the contenders of this great fish roll taste-off, along with the length (cm) and the price (Rs.).

Fish Roll Length (cm) Price (Rs.)
Klassy Pastry Shop 8.5 70
Sen-Saal 8.5 70
Caravan Fresh 9 60
The Fab 9 80
BreadTalk 10 150
Family Baker 9.5 60
Divine 7 60
Sponge 9 90
Sumanadisi Bakers 9.5 55
Royal Bakery 9 40
Tasty Caterers 7.5 80
Cakes & Bakes 12 80
Perera & Sons 11 60
Raja Bojun 11 60

 

In this roundup, what we've mostly looked for is the taste above all - it's filling, fishy flavor, notes of spices and the quality of the cover. It was not easy gobbling down 14 fish rolls, but somehow we managed to pull it off. Majority of them were alright, some were just sad, while a few were brilliant. After taking notes of each and every roll on the table, we divided them into three categories - The Evil, The Good and YAMU Recommends. 

Let the battle begin!

The Evil

The deceptive range of fish rolls that aren't true to their name. 

Divine

Ugh! I'm sorry but don't even get me started on this. The fish roll at Divine wasn't divine as their name would suggest. While its pastry was quite thick and soggy, its filling had this weird sour taste - probably because it was just an hour away from going bad. The filling itself was mostly potato, and whatever the flavors it had, they had been subdued by that evil sour notes. 

Raja Bojun

A horribly soggy pastry filled with chunks of potato and onions with a slight fishy aroma - that's what the Raja Bojun fish roll is. Not.Good.Enough. To make the cut!

Royal Bakery

Royal Bakery fish roll was the cheapest one out of the lot, which is probably why we couldn't expect much from it. It had a thin, soggy pastry while the filling contained a bunch of fat potato bits, onions, a bit of mackerel and chilis. In terms of flavor, it was quite spicy with a nice peppery hit, but also way too salty for our taste. 

Sumanadisi Bakers

As you can probably see, the stuffing here is mostly onions, but it also had a few bits of potato and thinly sliced carrots - which made us feel like biting into a veg roll. Just to make sure, we checked it out on the next day as well and sadly the results were same. The pastry was quite mushy, which is really dissapointing as this belonged to their freshest batch of fish roll produce. 

BreadTalk

Despite of all the 'too-expensive' labels, BreadTalk has been doing really well since the begining. It's the most expensive one out of the lot but unfortunately, their fish roll wasn't good as we though it would be. We liked its crust - a pastry deep fried in bread crumbs, which made it deliciously crispy, but the filling was extremely peppery, and overwhelmingly curry-like. 

The Good

The good fish rolls that will leave you satisfied. 

Sponge

Sponge's history goes all the way back to 1980s, and it's still among the best bakeries in town. The fish roll at Sponge didn't disappoint either. It had a somewhat good amount of mackerel, nicely combined with a mixture of potatoes, carrots , and leeks wrapped in a slightly crunchy, thin pastry. Anyway, we'd prefer if it had more spicy notes. 

Sen-Saal

The downer of Sen-Saal's fish roll is the extremely squishy pastry, but its filling was quite delicious. A sufficient amount of mackerel, and other regular elements like onions and potatoes, it was packed with flavor with a mild spiciness running through.

Caravan Fresh

We didn't have high hopes for Caravan Fresh, but it was surprisingly good. Sure it had a bit of fat chunks of potato, but it was adequately spicy with enough fishy taste. The wrap was pretty mediocre - thin and not crunchy.

Family Baker

Family Baker is arguably the most popular bakery chain around Mount Lavinia area, and they do a good fish roll. A good blend of potato and onions, with strong flavors of mackerel seeping through, this one had a thin, slightly soggy pastry, but we liked it. 

Klassy Pastry Shop

Klassy is a safe bet when it comes to some quality short eats, and we didn't hate their fish roll. Its filling was kinda buttery, oozing with a peppery hit, and quite a lot of potatoes, but only a few bits of mackerel minced in. 

Perera & Sons

Perera and Sons is yet another bakery that can be found in almost every corner of the country. Incorparated with the usual potatoes, onions and a dash of pepper, this one had a rather good amount of mackerel folded in a thin, but very mushy pastry. 

YAMU Recommends

The fish rolls that get YAMU's thumbs up. 

The Fab

The Fab is one of the most trusted, reliable sources in Colombo for some good short eats and cakes. Before the streets of Colombo started swarming with numerous fancy cake stops and home bakers, getting a birthday cake from The Fab was considered a sacred ritual. The cakes might not be their forte anymore, but they do a solid fish roll, among other snacks. Despite the not-so-compelling presentation, Fab's fish roll was the only one that had the dominating fishy flavor that we were looking for. A bit of heat from the chili flakes, and a hint of pepper nicely binded the flavors to the entire stuffing, its pastry was thicker than the rest with a slight crunch to bite. 

Tasty Caterers

The Tasty fish roll looked like an almost-cutlet, but it's the flavor that counts in this taste-off. Its stuffing was really delicious with bits of onion, leeks and mackerel, and strong hits of pepper, while the pastry was soft and slightly crunchy.

Cakes & Bakes

Cakes & Bakes is that's fairly new to the whole patisserie scene in Colombo, but they do a really a mean fish roll. I'm sorry we don't have a picture of its cross-section, because someone (not saying who) forgot to take a picture of it, as she was busy gobbling it down. This fish roll was the lengthiest one out of the lot, and it was good in terms of flavor as well. The roll itself was deep fried in what appeared to be bread crumbs - therefore, obviously it's crispy factor was doubled with a nice crunch to it. With plenty of mackerel, potatoes, and carrots, this one had a slight spicy kick that comes from the capsicum embedded in its mixture. 

Conclusion

Gulping down 14 fish rolls is too much guys, and the aftermath wasn't entirely pleasant. I for one will not be able to look at another fish roll for at least another six months. Anyway, we managed to survive just fine, and it was worth it. If we've missed any of your favorite fish rolls in Colombo, please feel free to let us know in the comments. 

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