I remember when Marrybrown first came to town, 12 years ago, and we went with childish excitement to see what all the fuss was about. Malaysian franchises were just beginning to step foot into Sri Lankan fast food territory. But that didn't excite us as much as the thought of another KFC. Alas, the experience did not quite match up. From the unsafe and unimaginative play area to the excessively oily fried chicken, Marrybrown couldn't hold a candle to everyone's favourite fried chicken.
Fast forward to 2015, and Marrybrown has been reduced to 'MB Halal Family Restaurant'. Almost entirely patronized by a Muslim clientele, this restaurant has been completely off our radar. While strolling about Marine Drive following a YAMU TV shoot, we decided to drop in and try out the food, because location, location, location.
If you're driving through Marine Drive, go here for snacks such as fried chicken and quirky burgers. They also do a decent Lavazza coffee for Rs. 130.
We tried one single piece of crispy chicken (Rs. 240) to start off. It was quite hot when it got to us, and remained so for a good ten minutes. The good news is that their chicken isn't as oily as it used to be. The crispy bits were actually quite dry, but lacked any distinct flavour. The crust was quite chunky, making the piece of chicken look much bigger than it was. Maybe it helps insulate the heat and keep the chicken warm (who knows the mysteries of fried chicken?) When we finally got to the chicken after much excavation, though, we were quite pleased with the flavour. It's that distinct KFC flavour that KFC somehow fails to deliver any more.
The flesh isn't as juicy as they make it at KFC, but it's well-cooked. If you prefer your chicken fully cooked, then you'll be quite comfortable with the fare at Marrybrown.
The Spicy Burger (Rs. 320) is quite a fascinating concept that makes Burger's King(/Hut) seem quite generic. With a chicken patty that tastes a lot like a Lankan omelette, there's lots of tang and amu miris flavour going on here.
A layer of chili paste is slathered over the patty, so you get your oil fix. Then there's a thin slice of cheese that melts right onto the fried egg. This burger tastes like breakfast. We'd actually love to try it with seeni sambol instead of chilli paste, and maybe a runny yolk.
Curiously named, the Hottouch Burger (Rs. 340) is a Zinger clone that improves upon the original in its own way. With a generous lather of mayo on both buns, two thin slices of cucumber, and a single leaf of lettuce, this is quite a simple burger. And then comes the crispy chicken. We could barely hold this burger steady. The bottom bun was too weak to hold that tall chunk of crispy chicken fillet. Biting into the burger, you get a lovely crunch. If you like the sound of eating fast food, literally, then this will be an audible treat. We also spotted carrot bits playing cameo parts in this mostly mayo scene.
At Rs. 220, the faluda here is of good value.
You get a full scoop of vanilla ice cream, the mandatory kasa kasa (basil seeds), and loads of multi-coloured jelly that you can funnel through the fat straw. Oh, and there's cashew nuts, too. Yum.
The lime and mint juice (Rs. 150) at Marrybrown is a flourescent green treat that strikes just the right balance between tart, sweet and mint.
The coffee... What would otherwise cost anywhere between Rs. 280 to Rs. 430 is just Rs. 130 at Marrybrown. It's not exceptional in terms of flavour and even slightly bitter. They use Lavazza, which is what you get at Barista but at a higher price point.
We were the only customers, and they treated us well. We've heard that Marrybrown can be disappointing in terms of service, but we'll have to dine-in at a busier hour to confirm or refute that.
We're not big on the gaudy colours and the swing chairs. They've been nailed to the ground, to prevent your dining experience from being a hazard to others (Oy vey).
The play area outside is still unsafe for toddlers to play without supervision. It doesn't serve the purpose of letting parents enjoy some peace of mind, which the KFC and McDonald's play areas offer.
People actively avoid dining at Marrybrown, and it's not necessarily because the food is awful. We'd say it's as good as Burger's King, but without the charm. It's not exactly a place to see or be seen at, so we'd recommend stopping by for snacks. Or generally when no one's looking. Our only gripe is that our drinks weren't served chilled. We were there at 10.30 AM, though, and they had just opened. So, that's cool.