The ubiquitous fast food triumvirate of McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC dominate a significant portion of Colombo’s eateries. There are about 23 Pizza Huts, 18 KFCS and 5 Mc Donald’s in the country – McDonald’s even encroaching on the beauty of the newly refurbed Colombo Racecourse.
Since settling on the island, however, our culinary colonisers had to make a few adjustments to their Western wares. As with the paradoxical ‘vegetarian McDonalds’ in India, Sri Lanka’s fast food joints also succumbed to the local palate, coming up with creative ways to incorporate the island’s favourite carbohydrate onto their bright, backlit menus.
Ranging from the more obvious Biriyani at KFC to the rather peculiar ‘Birizza’ at Pizza Hut – a carb upon carb concoction of pizza and rice – the most popular item across our fast food trio is always the rice – well, except at Pizza Hut.
The introduction of the rice meal plunged McDonalds and KFC into fierce competition, the rival McRice and Chicken Biriyani going head to head in the battle for our hearts and stomachs. However, a clear favourite doesn’t appear to have emerged; while some like KFC’s golden rice and crispy chicken leg (Rs. 150 regular, Rs. 260 large), others like McDonald’s capsicum and onion tossed white rice, served with a spicy chicken breast (Rs. 230). You also get those who like neither – Savan’s review of McDonald’s here laments the “”poor mockery of biriyani”” he says is the McRice.
He has a point. You can easily purchase a bath packet or biriyani from a local kade that’s likely to taste better and cost less. But, for some reason, our Kentucky/Donalds carbfests are hugely popular – and if you’re visiting from another country the novelty of being served rice at a burger joint might make the experience worth its Rs. 200.
Rice rivalries aside, KFC remains a popular destination amongst Sri Lankans. While their menu is by no means cheap (hot wings and drumlets cost Rs. 325 for just 6 pieces, Rs. 320 for a zinger burger, a whopping Rs. 1600 for an 8 piece chicken bucket…), the good Colonel’s chicken is still consumed by a vast swathe of society. What can we say, it’s fast and it’s fried. It’s perhaps spicier than what you’d get in the west, but the copious quantities of oil appear to have remained globally intact. While we can’t say we’d recommend going out of your way to visit KFC, it’s okay for a quick bite. The zinger burger’s actually not bad, and the rice could be worth a try.