Sen Saal is another one of Colombo’s quick eat places. Like Fab, they serve short eats, cakes, dessert and lamprais. But the Sen Saal menu is more extensive than Fab – and they visibly do lunchtime rices (at Fab you order this off a menu, here it’s all laid out in front of you), as well as breads, waffles and salads. There are three outlets in Battaramulla, Thimbirigasaya and Nawala, and all of them can get pretty busy around lunchtime.
The Short Eats
Sen Saal has a large variety of short eats: chicken cheese rotti (very popular), egg and fish bun, hot dogs, mini pizzas, chicken pie, etc. It’s the usual sort of short eat fare you’d expect, but they do lean a bit toward the bready side of things – alot of their short eats seem to be buns. You don’t get as much pastry as you would at Fab or Perera and Sons.
You’re unlikely to pay more than Rs. 100 for an individual item – prices seem to range between Rs. 50 and Rs. 80, which is reasonable. But if you get one of the more bready short eats the bun to filling ration can be a bit unsatisfying. As for taste, it’s generally fine, nothing too amazing, but not bad.
You can order from one of four rices: fried rice, nasi goreng, lamprais and a normal bath kade style rice and curry meal. We had the nasi goreng which cost about Rs. 350 (they take your receipt away at the end, so we don’t remember the exact price). They serve this with devilled chicken, chilli paste and a fried egg on top. I’ve had better nasi goreng (try Millennium Restaurant). The one at Sen Saal is okay. It’s expensive though – and you can get better, cheaper nasi goreng elsewhere.
We didn’t try any of the desserts this time, but I remember the poppy seed muffin being nice. Some of the tarts and muffins look like they could be tasty, while others look pretty ghastly – like the bright (marzipan?) apples, etc. They’re also very creative with their spellings – you can have a ‘chocolate daughnut’ or an ‘ecliar’. Overall the cakes and desserts don’t look too appealing, but the muffins are good and the banana bread is excellent.
Where to buy decent bread in Sri Lanka (aside from kade roast paan)? There’s the disappointing and expensive BreadTalk and also the excellent Paan Paan. Sen Saal fits somewhere between them both. The prices are okay, and so is the bread (try the cheesy one). We like Paan Paan the best, but Sen Saal’s also decent.
The Pains of Paying
Sen Saal is a good example of the Sri Lankan love of making something more difficult than it needs to be. Ordering and paying is an extremely complicated, painful process here. Rather than ordering and paying in a single location, you need to go to the individual counter you want food from to place your order – after that you go to the cashier, tell them what you’re getting and then pay for it. So if you wanted rice, waffles and a drink, you’d need to visit three counters to make your transaction – and then explain to them what you want. It’s a pain, and it’s so unnecessary.
The Short Conclusion
Sen Saal’s okay. I don’t love it, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there, but it’s all right. If you get one of the rices and a drink it works out quite expensive, but if you’re just having a couple of short eats it’s fairly reasonable. The service, however, is tiresome. So bear that in mind if you’re going during the lunchtime rush.