If you want to binge on a variety of mouth-watering and extremely reasonably priced food (street food, nonetheless), Hulftsdorp is the place for you. Be warned that this isn't for those who are weak of heart — or who can't stomach a gastronomic adventure. But if you dare venture into the suburban wilderness that is Colombo 12 (when the sun is out and night descends), you're in for an extremely pleasant surprise.
We started off at the junction where Quarry Road ends and Abdul Hameed Street starts, to be greeted by a brightly lit little kadé with about a hundred white lights swinging about it and nearly fifty dishes of meats and curries spread out on baking trays right in front (I may have exaggerated about the numbers). But, in all seriousness, they've got nearly everything (except pork), and they're all simultaneously mouth watering and tummy churning, depending on what your tastes are.
I walked up to one of the uncles behind the stalls, and pointed to the array of food stuff and asked what they were. He pointed at each and then rattled off "Cuttlefish curry, cuttlefish egg, devilled cuttlefish egg, chicken parts, mutton brain, grilled fish…" at which point I was just staring silently at the devilled cuttle fish egg and mutton brains, and thinking where else are these available? I don't even… I can't even… because I don't eat brains, but my cousin suggested I try it out anyway so we did.
They also had this really soft and doughy rotti which they claimed was khubbus, a type of Arabic bread. I've had actual khubbus in Saudi and Bahrain, and this isn't even close, but it looks good nonetheless.
We placed an order for mutton brains, chicken parts, and parotas, but once we were seated on our little plastic table on the street, we were regaled with parippu, raita, regular beef curry, and a few other condiments as well as what we'd ordered, including pittus and idiappas for mains.
The food was, to put it simply, pretty great. They've got curry down to a science, and the brains (my second or so time with that) were extremely milky in taste and texture, with the gravy bringing in the spiciness. That's the brown blob in the picture below, with the black-ish pieces being chicken parts.
The food was warm as it arrived, and was almost a typical meal you could get in a traditional Muslim family, especially the beef and parota combo. The beef, swimming in thick, brown gravy, was surprisingly soft and succulent, and came in rather large pieces.
We tried not to stuff ourselves too much here because we had the whole street to hit up. The bill for this place though, (for two people) came up to only Rs. 330. SO MUCH WIN.
We wandered over to another little kadé down the road, but as they were still kneading dough for the pattis, we hit up a little cart which was barbequeing some intensely good-looking meats. This turned out to be chicken and beef kebabs.
They also stuff it in buns if you want, but we took some chicken fresh off the skewer. It was legitimately one of the best chicken I've tasted around, really well flavoured, beautifully charred, and juicy to the core. Priced at just Rs. 270 a portion, this is an absolute steal. It's piping hot (obviously), and mouthwatering. GO GET SOME ALREADY.
I suggested winding our evening down with pattis and plaintea, so we walked back to store number two. Much to the excitement of my cousin, we learnt that the pattis made here was paani pattis, honey-pattis; something we've never tried before, given that it's generally a savoury dish (dish? dish).
What we got was pattis made of pol-rotti, wrapped and baked around pol-pani, that coconut-treacle mixture you use for laverias and pancakes here.
It was an interesting bite, to say the least. Especially as it was made just then, and came piping hot with the jaggery and coconut stuffing being not-so-hot. The old uncle making it had a lot of swag, with his sarong hitched up and with a cigarette in one one hand, patting and turning the pattis over with the other in between long puffs.
Don't think too much about hygeine, you won't get anywhere with that attitude in this hood.
Drinks-wise, their plain tea hits the spot, whilst their milk tea is doused in sugar (or condensed milk). Either way, it's your one-stop-shop for diabetes.
It comes in nice glass tumblers, a welcome change from the regular aluminium ones which are what you generally get in saivar kadés and elsewhere. Our patties and teas both cost only 80 bucks. WHOA.
Service and Ambience
This is far from the likes of Colpetty or Bamba, so don't expect anything fancy, really. It's an epic dining experience though, given that there's not many places like this in Colombo/ SL. The closest you'd get to it is the Nana Kadés at Galle Face.
You'd be sitting on the street, sometimes near a drain, sometimes with wide eyed cats under your rickety table set outside. Hello, Dobby.
Service is fast, friendly, hasty. The area is populated with Muslims, so the old uncles and young uncles both kind of maintain a respectful distance from you if you're a woman, or avoid you all together, or pull up chairs for you, or shower you with too much fatherly attention, or just steer clear of you all together. Go with a camera like we did, and you'd get little kids come up with toothy grins and ask you for a picture.
Uncommon and delicious food for a fraction of the price you'd find elsewhere, this is a definite must-visit. Curries, BBQs, sweets or savouries, including biryanis and burgers (we were too full to check those out) can be found here. They open up after nightfall, so visit after 6.00PM. Not sure how long this goes on for, but we were told it ends at like 4.00AM.
Well worth your money, and absolutely delicious food to boot.
P.s – check out our gallery for more pictures.