Red Lantern in Maharagama is a part of the Red Ballon Chinese Food chain that serves up Sri Lankanised Chinese for many years now. On a rainy Thursday, we made our way to them, with no massive expectations.
You get a menu with a list of soups, and noodles or rice as the carbs while beef, pork, mutton, chicken and seafood as your protein dishes. They have vegetable dishes, a section called Western cuisine and a few soft drink options. We just stuck to good ol’ Sri Lankanized Chinese.
The soup itself was not so thick, came across as a tad oily and bit too salty to our liking, but there were enough egg whites swimming about alongside chunks of crab meat. We’d have liked it to have a bit more sweet corn, and even if this bowl is acceptable for the price, we weren't the biggest fans.
The Red Lantern Special Fried Rice (Rs. 670 for S) was a plateful of basmati rice (you can get it from samba too) mixed with bacon, ham and egg. Seeing they haven't skimped on the bacon and ham, it made things fun, and the kankun, carrot added a subtle crunch to the meal.
The rice itself had the wok-fried aroma, was not oily while being seasoned to the mild side - which is perfect to pair up with the dishes. This was quite enough for three people and given its price, it was quite a deal.
Next up, the Diced Chicken (Rs. 650). The lightly roasted chicken had retained all the flavours of the meat while being firm on the outside and moist on the inside. Everything was coated in a sauce, that packed a subtle mix of savoury heat with a hint of pepper and chilli bits spiking it up even more. The kankun added more depth to the flavour and texture.
We liked the looks of the Pepper Pork (Rs. 720 for S) decorated with differently coloured, crunchy bell pepper, lettuce, and baby corn. All of the pork here were meaty pieces, cooked well, juicy, and not too hard to bite. Peppery as promised and packing loads of porky goodness without being too oily, or salty, it was a delight.
My lunch partner got hyped seeing all the chunks of baby corn, which were crunchy, a tad salty and had soused up the savoury flavours in the mix. If they can go easy on the bell pepper and add something like carrots, it could have made it even better.
The waitstaff was prompt and welcoming, but we got a few weird looks because of our camera.
Our food came without much delay and the place was relatively clean. It’s not the biggest space but can hold about fifteen or more people and you can enjoy your meal without feeling cramped up.
There was loud “bus music” turned to 11, playing in the kitchen, which was manageable when the door to the kitchen is closed. But whenever the waiter brought something, we’d get a good dose of loud music which did bug us, but we shrugged it off with a good laugh among ourselves.
Red Lantern managed to leave us feeling positive with their flavour delivery. While they can improve on a bit here and there, they are a really good option to grab some Chinese food without putting a dent in your wallet. If you are in the area, we can recommend you give them a visit with a friend or two, or you can even get your food delivered from them.
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