Note: Tomato gets an overall rating of 4 relative to the standard of dine-in restaurants in Batticaloa. We're not suggesting you head out all the way to Batticaloa to try it.
Tomato is a restaurant by Sunshine, a franchise of pastry shops and fast food in Batticaloa, that does really good Indian food. It's also the cleanest establishment in town, with Indian waiters and Nepali chefs. It's got a good ambiance, all quite modern and chic. All this sets it apart as the only proper dining experience in Batticaloa, and we were quite happy to find out that the food is pretty good, too.
We loved how much this felt like a decent restaurant in Colombo, which you'd be hard pressed to find along the east coast otherwise. The decor is not too tacky, and you feel quite comfortable here with the air conditioning too. This is definitely the place to go to if you don't want to rough it out. Food-wise, there's a little bit of everything, from sandwiches and burgers to naan and parata. You could even go for the seafood platter (Rs. 2,700) but only on days when it's available.
We decided to try the Seafood Boulliabaise (Rs 290) and what we were served wasn't what we expected. It was a pretty simple soup with egg and corn starch. I didn't care for it much, but we ordered it because it's generally got lots of seafood in it and is lent that flavour. Given that this was a day when the seafood platter was not available, I guess they were short on supply and hence the soup was lacklustre.
The Green Salad (Rs 250) was the most disappointing, though, as it looked more like garnish than a salad.
The batter-fried prawns (Rs 650) were sad because they had kind of lost their crisp by the time they got to the table. The batter wasn't a tempura, but a pasty, thicker batter that didn't seem to help the cause. The sauce that came with was great, though. We got some steamed rice along with it for Rs 120.
Last, but not least, we had the hot butter cuttlefish (Rs 440). Now, we take HBC quite seriously, so, we were quite curious to try this rendition of it. It's more of a devilled taste than hot butter. You don't get that lovely buttery taste. And the crunch isn't quite the same, either. While we like that the flavours are different, it just didn't impress when it came to texture. Still, we got a decent amount of cuttlefish at a low price, so that's fair.
Refusing to give up on Tomato, we decided we'd try take out for dinner, and, this time, go for Indian food. We got garlic butter naan (Rs 120), chicken tikka masala (Rs 400), mushroom masala (Rs 350), and beef karahi (Rs 400).
All of the curries were on point. The gravy was thick and packed with flavour. The chicken tikka was that lovely red colour you expect, and had plenty of chicken, enough for four people.
They use button mushrooms, but these are most likely canned and not the ones out of boxes you get in Colombo. Still, the flavour is spot on, savoury, creamy goodness. I liked this one better than the chicken.
The star of the night, though, was the beef karahi. This was a random order by my friend, but it felt like unlocking a secret level. Soft, decent cuts of meat, with an oily, spicy gravy that tastes of fatty goodness.
All in all, we think Tomato does a pretty good job with their Indian food, and have a nice, clean dine-in space that's more than welcome in Batticaloa. We wouldn't recommend the rest of the menu, though. Their prices are very reasonable, and they'll even deliver.