Past Burger's King (now called something else highly unmemorable) along Malay street, the second turn to your right takes you up New Ferry Lane. Located about 20m later and on the left, Kabeer & Sons doesn't have a signboard, and if it wasn't for the large window displaying freshly made short-eats, you'd probably entirely miss it.
The place does a roaring trade in the evenings with a steady trickle of customers, a lot of them have been trickling in for years it seems like, judging by the banter and by how the owner seems to know what they want to eat even before they say anything.
The food, clearly is the best part about this place. It's primary base is beef and babath. Babath is the stomach lining of cows, Kodal babath is the milk intestines. This might sound un-apetizing if you haven't tried it before, but babath, an import from the Java, remains a staple favourite among Muslim and Malay communities in Sri Lanka.
A plate of pittu and babath, their most popular dish, is Rs. 150. I wasn't feeling like it, pittu can be a little heavy for a 5 p.m. meal, so I ordered some ox-tail soup (another local speciality) instead. It came in a large bowl, with a chunk of meat and bone in a soup left to infuse over a slow burning fire. Lots of veggies in there to add flavor too. At just Rs. 100, this was a steal.
I ate a pasthol, which is a kind of pattis, except that its bigger and stuffed with vegetables and kodal babath (Rs. 40) with my soup, and also ate a chunk of fried beef (just because) (Rs. 100) which tased just like how my aunty in Gampola used to make it; stringy and peely with juicy, flavourful insides. It's all about that layering.
No nonsense plastic chairs and tables provided for regimented sitting. There is a simple sink in the back where you can also grab a glass of water. The environment feels really homley. You rub shoulders with laborers, soldiers, office workers and locals.
Both, Azar, the son of the late Mr. Sappydeen who founded the restaurant, and Kabeer, his brother-in-law, are chatty and friendly. Spend a few minutes pumping them for a story if you'd like to hear some interesting Slave Island history.
Great place for original, simple Malay cuisine. Parking isn't tough to find along New Ferry Lane.