It's not every day that you come across a restaurant that could get mixed up with a bus route and when you do find one, it's not really easy to let it go out of your head. While we do face many a bizarre situation, this takes the tea for the week.
To those of you who haven't caught up yet, One Three Eight isn't the 138 bus route. It's actually a restaurant in Nugegoda that's directly in front of the bus stop that the 138 bus stops at. So, come one very gloomy, rather damp Thursday afternoon, we decided to drop in for some lunch.
Unfortunately, we don't have a visual for this particular category so you're gonna have to bear with me on this one. Anywho,
Anyway, the ambience at One Three Eight doesn't necessarily have anything special about it. It's more or less a giant black building with One Three Eight written on the side, and given the weather we happened to visit them at, it's all right.
Sticking to the basics of a couple of plastic chairs and tables taking up most of the space, grey/ black walls and an overall appearance that was a lot more messed up than we would have liked, it's nothing special, but gets the job done.
If you still can't picture it, just imagine a very dark, gloomy Alumka. That should do it.
Rejoice, here come the visuals.
One Three Eight is more or less a bakery, that also happens to serve rice and curry. But, given how we happened to drop in at around lunchtime, the primary attention was given to things in the latter. They do have a small showcase out front where you can snag a bun or two, and we grabbed 2 of them.
The Chicken Sub (Rs. 100) came as a pretty generously baked bun that had a layer of chopped up onion, pulled chicken smothered in butter, lettuce and more chopped up onion packed in it. While we really did like the bun, we didn't really love the inside contents of the bun. Moist and dusted with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, the bun was actually the best part of it. The insides just tasted like buttered onion, which didn't really work out that well for us, unfortunately.
The Seeni Sambol Bun (Rs 50) was wonderful. The bun was moist and soft in the right places to make it kind of like the burger bun at Burger King and the dusting of bread crumbs added a lot of character to the whole thing. And combined with that beautifully spicy, sweet caramelised onion sambol inside, it was marvellous! One Three Eight does a killer Seeni Sambol Bun y'all.
In the rice-al department, we have this - the Mixed Chicken Fried Rice (Rs. 220). Taking the shape of a wonderfully plasticky white box, the fried rice was essentially like every other fried rice set menu you get in most of the rice and curry places on the island.
Fluffy, well-cooked basmati tossed around in a pan with shredded carrot and leeks with faint whiffs of egg, it was lovely. And like the fried rice, the chop suey too was like any other chop suey you get with the aforementioned variety of fried rice. Slightly slimy and tasting like Maggi soup cubes, the veggies were cooked well and we had nothing to complain about.
This is the Fried Rice Set Menu (Rs. 350). The reason we oh so abruptly switched to this was that apart from the elephant sized piece of chicken in the middle and the mushrooms, it was the exact same thing as the prior.
Sitting on a spicy saucy gravy, the chicken was cooked to the point of having bits of charcoal bits on the side and being cooked right through in the centre. Packed with flavour, the saucy gravy was actually quite nice.
However, what really blew us away on this was the batter-fried mushroom. Tasting impeccably like hot butter mushrooms, this was brilliant. And all in all, given how big the portion size is, we're gonna say this is more than worth the Rs. 350 you pay for it.
The Chicken curry was a tad bland but cooked right through. Tasting more or less like any other chicken curry in the market, it wasn't much. But, the beetroot curry and the watakolu curry were 2 of the creamiest concoctions we've had in a while. Thick and carrying just the right seasonings, they were great.
I love Gotukola Mallung and the Gotukola Mallung in this packet did not disappoint. With bits of green chilli, lime and just the right amount of coconut, it was superb. Adequately oily with just enough spice to give that kick, kehel muwa malluma was good too.
In terms of service, the staff at One Three Eight were neither friendly nor were they slow-paced. We know that the 2 adjectives have nothing to do with each other, but they're the only things that come to our mind when we think of the service at One Three Eight.
With many ups and downs, our experience at One Three Eight was not bad. It's a pretty decent place to get rice and curry from. So, if you're in the area, you know where to go.