Sri Lankan devilled chicken at The Elephant Corridor. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
It's not usually a great sign when a restaurant doubles up on cuisines, which is why I haven't rushed to the ''pizza and curry'' place that's opened in my neighbourhood.
However, I'd heard good things about Sri Lankan and Indian restaurant Elephant Corridor, so I joined the throng one night in bustling Glen Waverley and grabbed the last table at this two-year-old restaurant. Elephant Corridor has its heart in Sri Lanka, but most of its menu is in India. I focused on the Sri Lankan offerings and was rewarded with delicious food (and lovely leftovers). A sense of pride seemed to imbue each dish; I'm sure it makes meals taste better.
There are similarities between the food of Sri Lanka and southern India, but many distinctions too. Sri Lankan food uses complex spice mixes, heaps of curry leaves, strong chilli heat, and lots of coconut milk to create dishes with layers of flavour. Influences from colonising powers are evident in dishes such as creme caramel (from the Portuguese) and lamprais (a rice and meatball package with Dutch origins).
Elephant Corridor excels at more than just whole fish. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Sri Lankan specialities include string hoppers (noodle cakes made with red and white rice flour). They work well with the soupy yellow dahl known as parripu, flavoured with curry leaves and seasoned with chilli and mustard seed oil. Hoppers are also perfect with the coconut, chilli, lime and dried fish sambal I'd be happy to put on just about everything.
Whole barramundi is marinated overnight with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, lemongrass, two types of curry powder and those ubiquitous curry leaves. It's then wrapped in banana leaf and baked, resulting in fragrant, moist, intensely flavoured fish. Other excellent dishes include a dry goat curry in rich dark gravy, and mega-spicy devilled chicken with a smooth onion, ginger and garlic sauce.
The service was generally efficient and eager, and we got great advice on the menu. Our meal didn't go entirely smoothly though - one dish was forgotten and when we lingered over our dessert of smooth curd with treacle, the lights were flicked on in a clear message that it was time to hoof it.
The classic-hits soundtrack and Buddha statues didn't quite jell either, but a cheerful attitude and all that super-tasty food made it easy to focus on the upside of a wander down the Elephant Corridor.
3.5 stars out of 5
- (03) 9561 8810
- Cuisine - Indian, Asian
- Prices - Breakfast, $18.90; entrees, $2.50-$17.90; mains, $12.90-$29.90; desserts, $7.90-$8.50.
- Features - Licensed, BYO
- Cards accepted - Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Wed-Sat, noon-3pm; Sun, 9am-3pm; daily 6-10.30pm
- Author - Dani Valent