Meal Centre.

YAMU’s been on a lucky streak with the lunches this week. Yesterday we discovered the VOC Cafe’s excellent yellow rice meal and today we stumbled upon an equally delicious but cheaper buth packet at Meal Centre in Kalubowila.

Kalubowila is not known for its culinary accomplishments, so it’s unlikely that you’d be driving along its stagnant canals in search of tasty nourishment. However, if you happen to live, work or find yourself in the neighbourhood, Meal Centre offers one of your best options for food.

Clean, tidy and located on the side of the road with a broad car park, you can spot Meal Centre from afar by its curling yellow logo. A welcome change from the abundance of Wonder Bakeries – really not so wonderful – they provide honest, tasty Sri Lankan food. With cut cement walls and bright, friendly staff it’s posher than your average kade, but price wise it’s pretty much the same. A biriyani costs Rs. 230 and a standard rice and curry with chicken only Rs. 130.

The biriyani, while not really a biriyani, is decent. The rice is well infused with spices and the chicken, while fried within an inch of its life, is still tasty. If you have an aversion or allergy to peanuts, however, be warned. But its the rice and curry and vegetable samosas that we really loved.

The pinnacle of achievement for a vegetarian dish is if, after tasting, you mistakenly believe it to contain meat. That’s what happened here. Stuffed full of, well, we honestly don’t even know what, we were surprised to learn that our humble little pastry contained only the fruits of the earth. One of the best veg samosas we’ve had so far, this was better and more flavourful than what you may get at Perera & Sons, Chariot, etc.

The rice and curry is also excellent – good soft, curried chicken, a hearty dahl, beetroot curry, etc. Getting a lunch packet that’s cheap, tasty and clean isn’t always an easy task, especially in Kalubowila. But Meal Centre is great and we’ll definitely be going back. Also a good option of you happen to be staying at the Colombo City Hostel down the road.

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