The Biriyani Restaurant at Armour Street entails a bit of a drive. You've got to brave the heat and the unforgiving embrace of Colombo 12's traffic jams. But dude, it's no secret that some of the best culinary experiences are enjoyed and created here- so in any case, if you want a slice of all that edible goodness, you gotta get on the wagon and just do it.
If that pep talk wasn't enough to convince you, here's a photo of the biriyani for your viewing pleasure.
But yeah, hop on a bus or tuk or whatever, and head to The Biriyani Restaurant if you want to treat friends or family to a magnificent, biriyani feast that's 100% authentic. It's worth the ride, I promise.
The biriyani here isn't simply just a dish that they make here. It's their sole focus. Every component from the deliciously minty chutney to the tart and creamy raita is curated lovingly by the chef.
To further add to the quality, the owner: a Mr. Ray Jayasekara is a full on biriyani aficionado. Having travelled all over India for the sole cause of indulging in their biriyani (or versions of), Ray lends his expert eye and touch to every batch that is made.
The rice they use here is the highest grade Basmati rice- we were told. It's infused with a load of aromatics and spices- so every bite is rich.
It's also cooked traditional 'kacchi' style which is when you place raw+marinated meat, underneath strained+par-boiled rice, and cook it together in a dum. This allows for all the flavours from the meat to seep up and fuse with the rice, producing a stellar flavour profile and an overall zesty biriyani that'll touch your soul.
The chicken was absolutely decadent. Chock full of spices and a sharp chilli kick, the inside is tender and delicately pink. A perfect complement to the brilliantly executed basmati.
The Mutton Biriyani looks like an unassuming plate, but all the meat is buried within. I had one job to do, which was take photos of the mutton- and the allure of this dish prevented me from doing so. Trust me, I even arranged my plate all nice so y'all can have a look at the meat for yourselves, but nay- I just went straight to eating instead.
A portion costs Rs. 780 and it's a big one at that. The mutton is a rich, robust red colour, and the meat is pink and p0ull-apart soft. You'll get none of that goat-y taste thank goodness. Just a pure kick of flavour and marinade. The spice factor is a bit high and will leave you tired if you manage to finish this. But it's worth it.
The style of cooking used here, is the 'pakki' method of preparation where they use the same grade of basmati rice as the chicken biriyani above, but with no masala added. It's a delectable combination that focuses on the mutton as its overall flavour boost with the rice adding sweet whisperings of flavour without overpowering the overall astringency.
I dislike watalappam with a passion. Mostly because I've grown up unable to escape it all my life. Dodol too, ugh. I've been told my mum makes the best watalappam on numerous occasions (yes yes everyone's mums make the best watalappam, chill) but I won't even eat that, let alone order some at a restaurant.
Bhagya and I decided to split one, so the photo you see above is actually half a portion in each cup. After mustering the courage to try a mouthful I can report that it's uh, good. Bhagya loved it. He said it had just the right consistency, sweetness and the cashews were an added delight. I take his word for it because he finished my portion as well.
Service & Ambience
The service here is quick and straightforward. The food is prepared with great care to order, so you can expect to wait at least 10 minutes before a steaming hot plate reaches your table. The servers are quick and efficient, but try and be clear about your order- better for everyone involved overall.
The ambience is clean and minimal. There are plastic rattan chairs for your seating comfort and enough accommodation to sit a staggering 50+ people at a time. A few unfinished murals don the walls- giving the place a slightly homely and easygoing feel.
The host/proprietor- Mr. Ray Jayasekara hovers around and will occasionally check on you, so feel free to provide any feedback you have. Our last visit here, Chandana addressed their watalappam and this time around they'd taken it to heart and made a huge improvement there.
Also feel free to put a small chat, Ray will be more than happy to oblige.
Armour Street is a real challenge to navigate around, and on most occasions, you're better off just not going there altogether- but man, trust me when I say this biriyani deserves a visit.