Anzu’s Restaurant (Huang Xiang Ju).

Anzu’s restaurant on Marine Drive (Colpetty) is a new and authentic Chinese eating house. While it may not suit everyone, it’s a good option for those looking to experience Chinese home cooking.

The Food

We can’t really call Anzu’s restaurant a “”restaurant””, because you’re basically walking into a Chinese house for a meal. So, for a lack of a better word, we’ll call it an eating house. The menu at Anzu’s is refreshingly different from the generic local Chinese restaurants, but it should be noted that the English translations aren’t the most accurate. They serve chicken, pork, beef and seafood with some interesting variation like Chinese pancakes and coriander pork. Prices are slightly higher than contemporary eateries with small portions between Rs. 600 – Rs. 850, just enough for around three. One thing that we noticed is that this place is pretty ghetto, so don’t be too surprised if you find bones in your meats.

The yangzhou fried rice (Rs. 698), along with all the rice options come in one portion size enough for only two, which is expensive compared to similar portions from other Chinese restaurants. This is more or less seafood fried rice with calamari, shrimp and a whole lot of egg. They don’t use the usual long grain basmati, instead they use a thicker grain, sticky rice which adds a subtle sweetness and texture. Personally I would have liked a bit more salt in the rice but it was less noticeable when had with other dishes.

Overcooked chicken is quite common at most local restaurants, so I’ve been looking for a place that does chicken just right. The crispy fried chilli chicken (Rs. 598 for S) at Anzu’s is probably the best one I’ve had in a while. The preparation is quite simple with tempered red chillies, shallots and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This dish is all about the perfectly cooked chicken which is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They cook the chicken with the skin, so it forms a kind of thin crackling which is just brilliant.

The coriander pork (Rs. 598 for S) was quite interesting. Coriander isn’t something we commonly associate with Chinese cuisine, but in this case it worked quite nicely with the pork. This is also a good options for those looking for a pork dish with less fatty pieces, since ours came entirely with lean pork. The only drawback of this dish was that the they add quite a lot of pepper. It’s not ground pepper either so the flavour get’s obscured quite often when you chew down on a kernel.

The fried cuttlefish with chilli sauce (Rs. 598 for S) was the one dish that didn’t really have much merit. The pan fried cuttlefish were cooked okay but lacked a flavour kick, which we suspect was supposed to come from the chilli sauce, but it just didn’t. The sauce was plenty spicy but lacked acidity and sweetness balance. This could just be my local palate disagreeing with the authenticity of the dish, but it just felt like they could have done a lot more with the sauce.

We also tried out the Chinese pancakes (Rs. 400 for 4) which were savory, flaky and thicker than conventional pancakes. It has a very thin batter, but the flaky texture reminded us of a parata. It’s a decent, but we wouldn’t say it’s worth 100 bucks each.

Ambience and Service

Like we said earlier, this is a house. Go here expecting anything else and you’ll find yourself disappointed. This is probably the closest thing to eating at a Chinese house that you can experience in Colombo.

Service at Anzu’s was actually surprisingly fast. Almost as if they knew what I would order, ’cause the food was ready in about ten minutes. Communication is a pretty huge problem here since it’s run entirely by a Chinese family. So be prepared for a quite a bit of pointing and sign language. The lady taking the order was polite and nice enough to bear with me while I somehow managed to decipher some of the dishes.

Conclusion

Authentic Chinese cuisine isn’t something that Sri Lankans are quite used to just yet, but for those who do like it, or if you’re looking to experience it firsthand, Anzu’s Restaurant is a worth a visit.

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