Prima Taste opened up way back when in 2008 or so, but shut down after a couple of years (we don't know why). It's now opened back up under Upali's new management, sporting a slightly refurbished menu and almost exactly the same decor. They appear to be doing fairly well though, and have maintained their relatively reasonable prices and great food.
The only thing that's a little bit unsettling is how long their name is. It's currently
by Prima Taste
We thought we'd open with some Singapore Chicken Satay (Rs. 540), which used to be an old favourite during the restaurant's previous regime. The portion was pretty great for the price, and the flavour and preparation were frankly stellar. I'd actually come back here just for the satays. The light peanut sauce it came with was subtle and flavourful too, but the satay barely needed it.
Our mains consisted of a mélange of dishes, including Crispy Chicken Rice (Rs. 590), Stir-Fried Kangkung (Rs. 450), and Wok Fried Pepper Sea Prawn (Rs. 890). The rice was a little bit of a disappointment because I expected a sort of stir-fried rice dish rather than plain rice with a piece of fried chicken. Which is more our fault for choosing the wrong dish, really.
Despite the plainness of the dish, the preparation was great. The rice somehow retained a good vegetable stock flavour, and the roast chicken was succulent and crisp (rather than the dry roast you'd get at any kade).
The kangkung was great and intensely flavourful, oodles of fresh vegetable tossed in sesame oil, garlic, and some overpowering fish taste (I think this may have been dried Maldive fish). The flavour is definitely a bit overwhelming and spicy, but we still enjoyed it. However, I'd suggest they inform their patrons that it contains seafood remnants for the vegans/ vegetarians.
While the prawn played host to strong peppery flavour, and superb wok-tossed prep, the shells were a challenge for the lazy (me). There were 6 fresh jumbo prawns, which isn't a bad deal for Rs. 890. I would have enjoyed it infinitely more if I didn't have to spend a minute getting the flesh out of each prawn, so I'd be sure to ask for them peeled the next time around.
The ambience is exactly the same as it was earlier. The same low comfortable chairs, plenty of natural light, and walls depicting scenes from old Singapore. There's also a surprising amount of seating, enough for about 50 people in 3 separate rooms.
The service was efficient, but the waitstaff didn't really know their way around the menu. I felt the experience could have been much better if recommendations were made. Also at some point, the waiter gave up on speaking English and switched into rapid Sinhala literally mid conversation. His assumption that my table consisted of locals fell flat and I had to do some hasty (and probably incorrect) translation.
While the ambience and service aren't amazing, they're both sterile and efficient. We enjoyed the food despite making some bad choices (dang you crispy rice!), and will definitely be back for more satay and to try their Singapore chillie crab. The menu also featured a couple of Upali's favourites like fish curry, so if you're craving some Upali's but don't want to make the trek from the burbs to Colombo 07, Prima Taste may be a good substitute! We'll keep you posted on the crab.
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