Isso started off humble with their tiny little outlet down Sulaiman Terrace. Now they’ve moved onto the bigger leagues with a shiny new restaurant on Ananda Coomaraswamy Road that’s bigger, better, and still retains the same quality everyone’s grown to know and love.
Their former outlet is now called the Isso Express. So you can hop in for a quick meal, or take out. The new place is curated to employ a proper dining experience.
You’ve got ample seating so you can actually take the entire jingbang out for dinner now as well as enjoy a few interesting new additions to their menu. We dropped in to see what the scene was and it was actually pretty great.
The interior is nice and clean with a lot of warm colours at play. Colourful murals decorate the walls depicting illustrations of all the exciting seafood you’re going to eat in case you don’t see it on your plate.
They’ve kept to their orange colour scheme with a bit of blue thrown in there for a cooling effect – otherwise the entire place would have ended up looking like the insides of a boiled shrimp. Not a bad effect in either case.
I’d have taken better pictures for your viewing comfort, but all these people looked hilariously uncomfortable with me waving my camera around that I had to give it a rest.
The bathrooms are gorgeous – check them out when you’re there. For some reason all these new restaurants and bars seem to really be upping their loo game a lot. I wonder why?
Prawn Crazy – The Food
I’ve actually never dined at Isso before – save for ordering their Sweet Potato Chips in at work when I want a snack. Having heard tons of reviews on the place, expectations were high – and I’m glad to report that my experience was satisfactory.
I think this is pretty common knowledge now, but let’s include it in anyway; ordering a meal here works in three steps.
1) You pick the size of your prawns.
2) You pick your choice of carb.
3) You pick your choice of meal.
Now, this is supposed to depict the well acclaimed Jaffna-style prawn curry: which it did. But I didn’t really see a twist anywhere, unless the twist was the way it was presented, which isn’t that much of a twist either…
The prawns were delicious though. Good grief. Each of these sea-roaches was covered in a light smother of deliciously spiced gravy leaving it juiced out to absolute perfection. It pretty much drips into a wonderful ooze, right in your mouth, leaving you chewing on a nice, spicy chunk with tears in your eyes; more so from the spice than anything else.
The garlic bread was disappointing. It was roast paan with a few bits of garlic embedded within its fluffy layers. Come on, guys. You can’t mess around with garlic bread. That would’ve been an interesting twist too – if you’d managed to pull off a proper roast paan slathered in garlic bread.
Here is a photo of the Lobster Biriyani. It’ll squeeze your wallet dry of a hefty amount of Rs. 2,490. Served with sides of cucumber raita, mint chutney and malay pickle this monster of a dish comes with five lobster tails (small ones) and a deep-fried boiled egg.
Mother of dragons, I loved every single bit of it. To this day I think back and weep at how I didn’t take more time appreciating it. It was a beautiful fiery red with caramelised onions and parsley galore distributed evenly amidst bits of cashew as well.
It’s utterly mind-boggling how some restaurants here tend to specialise in biriyani, but somehow ISSO of all places manages to nail it. Hilarious.
Here’s a picture of me before and after enjoying the biriyani. I’ve aged 20 years on account of groaning and pulling through that entire bowl. If you still need more convincing, then I’m sorry but the only thing left for you to do is try it yourselves.
We also got a portion of the Sweet Potato Fries, now clocking in at Rs. 290. They’re still the same, good quality, crunchy, thick fries. A lot of flavours are at play here from the sweetness of the potato to the zing from the chilli powder. Good snack for when you’re feeling like getting a little something-something.
They’ve got an entire range of drinks from the Berry Company including a few treats like the Goji Berry juice and the Acai Berry juice as well. These are a bit pricey at Rs. 390 a drink – but they’re shipped in all the way from the UK if that justifies anything.
The Milo Dino is something I wouldn’t quite recommend on account of its ludicruously exorbitant price tag: Rs. 590. Are you serious? I’ll stick to my packaged milo thanks. It also looks like it’s a big drink but the glass in an optical illusion. It’s delicious okay, it’s the best Milo Dino you’ll get – but you can probs get something better off the menu for SIX HUNDRED RUPEES, yafeel?
Service is pretty much DIY here because you have to place your orders at the counter. The hosts there will take you through the menu if you get a bit overwhelmed, and they’ll bring your food to your table which is about it. Nothing too fancy, nothing lacking either.
This place isn’t bad, men. I actually quite like it. The prices (for their dishes) are reasonable I guess, and you get big portions also. Only thing is they have a bit of a fly problem I hope they fix soon. Saw this poor fellow in the corner swatting away at a fly that wouldn’t let him enjoy his meal in peace.
Anyways if you’re tired of hitting up the Galle Face Green for isso wadeys, and have a little extra salli to spend – try this place. Perhaps not often, but try it at least once.