Santai Colombo.

Ed Note: Santai Colombo recently relocated to Stafford Avenue.
 
Lured by the promise of authentic Malaysian fare, Santai Colombo has been buzzing for a few months now. 
The word "santai " in Bahasa translates into "relaxed" – which is exactly what we felt as we stepped into this cosy restaurant in Colombo 07. 

Food

With a multiracial community, Malaysia is like a hub that gives the exposure to different kinds of cuisines – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai whatnot. Fueled by this influence of different culinary fare, Santai seems to stay true to its purpose – by serving up a whole bunch of Malaysian dishes with vibrant colours and prominent flavours. 

We started off with a portion of Satay Ayam – Chicken (Rs. 650), which was served with five well-marinated chicken skewers, a cup of peanut sauce, and two ketupat (rice cakes) on the side. 

Moist, tender and juicy, the chicken had just the right touch of the grill, with a slight hint of ginger, while the peanut sauce gives that extra sweet kick. 

The Nyonya Laksa (Rs. 1200) is Santai Colombo's signature noodle bowl. Having soaked in all the spicy goodness of laksa broth, each and every element in this soup was absolutely delicious. The yellow and vermicelli noodles were cooked well, and not at all soggy, while the tau poo pok were spongy and deep-fried to perfection. Steaming hot, this was one big bowl of happiness.

You'll find two chewy jumbo prawns swimming about, and a tiny helping of laksa sambol on the side, which helped to amplify the spicy factor of the whole meal.

Considered the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is a popular rice-based breakfast option. However, in Sri Lanka, any time of the day is a good time for buth, which is why we went with Santai Colombo's Mutton Rendang Nasi Lemak (Rs. 1200). 

Fragrant, milky, but grainy, the rice was delish, and it made a good combo with all the other components on this plate – mutton rendang, peanuts, sambal, fried anchovies, and a half of a boiled egg. Boasting a rich curry flavour, the mutton pieces were cooked in a way that you can actually pull it apart in layers. Its gravy was so creamy and had an intoxicating aroma – all thanks to the pureed onions, chillies, garlic, and other spices they've infused into it. With the swirl of spiciness added by the sambal, we loved this. 

The only downer was the size of the potion. We weren't quite full after eating this one – a little more rice and probably an extra piece of mutton would have been nice. 
Featured above is our dessert, the Apam Balik (Rs. 500). These Malaysian style pancakes were fried until golden brown, and stuffed with roasted peanuts and creamy corn. The wet-earthy kinda smell of corn filled the room as this plate arrived on to our table, and we were sold! With a nice crisp to bite from the outside, its inside was deliciously soft, and not too sweet. Doesn't matter if you are not the most sweet-toothed person on earth, this one should work fine for you. 

Drinks

The drinks menu here is comprised of a few cold-pressed fruit juices, mocktails, tea and coffee. We tried a couple of them.

Interesting fact – Ipoh White Coffee was originated in the town of Ipoh in Malaysia, and it was named one of the top three coffee towns by Lonely Planet. The uniqueness lies within the fact that these coffee beans are roasted with palm oil margarine.

That being said, we were quite pleased to see the Ipoh White Coffee (Rs. 450) on Santai Colombo's menu. With a strong whiff of coffee, and velvety in texture, it was incredible. 

The Limau Ais with Assam Boi was a delicious drink that involves cold pressed calamansi juice and sour plum. Refreshing and tart, it had little to no sugar, so you can enjoy all the natural flavours in every sip. 

Service & Ambience

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a young lady by the door, who later guided us to our table. From that minute to the moment we left, the service went pretty smoothly. Our food and drinks took around 10 – 15 minutes to arrive, which is really impressive considering the place was almost packed for Saturday lunch. 

The place looks like a relatively modern house flipped into a restaurant. With plush wooden chairs and tables, it was comfortable, absolutely calm and quiet, so you can enjoy your meal at peace.

Yes, I know. This counter alongside stools actually look like a part of a bar, but Santai doesn't serve any alcohol. This space is more like a dedicated spot for anyone who's dining alone. 

What caught our eyes the most was these birdcage lamps they had hung on the ceiling. There was something alluring about them. Quirky, but enchanting. 

Conclusion

An albeit pricey, but a place worthy of paying a visit. We liked our experience here. 

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