This is a guest post by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, editor of C3 magazine
All eyes are on the Burger King franchise, but it turns out Colombo’s not the only place for submarines. Meet Sisira Bakers, Ragama.
This not-so-little bakery is Ragama’s answer to Dinemore, McDonalds, Roots and KFC. I first stumbled across this joint when, in preparation for a small-time concert, these guys set up an outdoor stall compete with delicious-looking food displays. Naturally, we returned for some heavy-duty eating ASAP.
Chicken, burgers and submarines and assorted fast food items make up the heart of the menu. The items are pretty straightforward: no fancy names or trademarks, just standard nouns.
The chicken turned out to be a huge hit. For Rs 100, you get a sizeable chunk of KFC-ized chicken that’s as good, if not better, than what you can pick up any day at Colombo. At that price, the equivalent of an 8-piece chicken bucket costs only Rs 800/=.
Rs 250/= will net you a good, fat submarine stuffed full of grilled chicken and cheese. You can get the vegetable or beef versions, too. The sub comes with a goodish portion of fries and is drier than the famed Burgers’ King standard – certainly less mustard and oil: imagine a Dinemore sub with more meat and that’s what you’re getting. Rs 170/= gets you a Zinger-ish burger that’s stacked almost twice as high as the actual Zinger. You’ll agree those are some seriously good prices. The only downside I could find is that the fries could use a bit more salt (yes, they’re undersalted – we went twice on two separate weeks and the salt level was consistent).
That’s not all on their menu. The shawarma costs around Rs 150/= and isn’t anything special, though it’s a couple of hundred percent better than KFC’s limp excuse for a shawarma. We didn’t get to try the club sandwiches. They also do fried rice, nasigoreng, kotthu, macaroni (all with generous servings of chicken), fresh fruit juices (hence the Roots connection) and the standard malupaan / pastry combos that you see in any eatery. We didn’t get to sample their cakes, but they have a decent range – Swiss rolls to geateux. If the cakes are as good as the burgers, I see myself getting diabetes very soon.
The service is as good/bad as your average pastry shop. They do take their time – our submarines, nasigoreng and burger took about 25 minutes. I have a feeling my request for twenty pieces of chicken must have bowled them over a bit, because they took a damn long time whipping that up. Nevertheless, they were very friendly and polite about it. The venue looks like a respectable bakery, and there’s ample seating for about fifteen people inside. On certain evenings they set up a stall outside and lay out the chairs and such.
Ragama. Bad news for Colombo dwellers, good news for us on the fringes. It’s thirty minutes by train from Colombo Fort. There’s actually two Sisira Bakers’ – one right in front of the Leesons private hospital, and one right across the road from the Ragama train station.
Needless to say, we went home clutching Rs 2000/= worth of chicken and gorged ourselves into oblivion. Then we came back for seconds.