Yaal Restaurant down Marine Drive still serves some very tasty and not-too-pricey food, and their crab curry is still good - though it's their biriyani that blew us away.
Yaal is the word for Jaffna so you get typically south Indian food here but with a spicy Sri Lankan twist. (Apologies for the crappy pictures, folks, we had to take them with a phone.) [Editor's Note: charge your camera
We loved the food mostly because of the spicy punch it packed, so it's not for those who can't handle a bit of chilli in their meals. We got a chicken biriyani (Rs. 390), rice with cuttlefish (Rs. 480), mutton curry (Rs. 400) and crab curry (Rs. 700). The prices are good considering the biriyani and rice came with plenty of sides, and the crab was the only thing that was on the pricey side, but then again it's crab.
First off, the biriyani here is one of the better ones in the city. It came with a big piece of roasted chicken and egg in a little silver pot, and I'd say was enough for two light meals, but considering how tasty it was and how hungry I was, it was just enough for my belly alone. A lot of places make the mistake of serving their biriyani dry like normal rice, but this dish was slightly oily and sticky, and best of all, spicy.
The rice and cuttlefish is a great pick, with loads of sides besides the cuttlefish curry. The highlight was of course the cuttlefish - thick big pieces in plenty, and again, nice and spicy.
Lastly the crab curry! It came in a wide silver tray of hot spicy curry - which tastes great slathered over your biriyani. It's a pain in the butt to crack open these guys and access the good stuff but when you do, you'll find the meat very soft and sweet.
Service & Ambience
It took about half an hour for the food to arrive which feels like an age, but we did order a lot including the crab so it probably takes a while to prepare. The food comes in banana leaves which is nice. There's not much else to say about the service. It's a typical south Indian small restaurant atmosphere, with metallic furniture, semi-clean floors and affordable food making the rounds to a working crowd on lunch break.
The view of the beach is right there, so it saves the place from feeling stuffy and adds some natural sea breeze ambience.
If you go towards the counter at the back, you can check out a little tank of crabs hanging out together, ignorant of the doom that must befall them (dun dun duuuun!).
We love the food at Yaal - if you're looking for tasty food to binge on for lunch or dinner and you don't give a hoot about ambience, it's the place to go. It's a great stop for seafood and biriyani, at only around 500-700 bucks a head.
The prawn string-hopper biriyani is fantastic. So are their lunchtime thalis.