Araliya Location: 157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Melbourne VIC Contact: 03 8658 3516 After cultivating 30 years of experience at the helm of Araliya Hawthorn, Sri Lankan chef Sam Wedande has now moved the institution to the beachy suburb of St Kilda. Drawing on three generations for his spice-infused dishes, the restaurant brings some wonderful recipes which represent a true celebration of both traditional and contemporary Sri Lankan techniques. As Wendande explains, “On the menu, I’ve brought along some of the wonderful recipes that I created right from the early days of Araliya Hawthorn, that have proven to be timeless favourites. But I’ve also reinvented contemporary dishes, including a great selection of vegetarian and gluten free choices, with the spices Sri Lanka is famous for: coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.” The space itself, which was designed by architect Emily Gilfillan, has a modern, sophisticated feel, and features textured wall panels, leather banquets and ottomans. There are two bespoke cocktail stations at a sleek bar, which showcases an extensive wine list. The spices Sri Lanka is famous for (think coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) feature prominently on the menu, with a number of the dishes a contemporary take on the classics. A Sri Lankan hawker street food that is typically sold from the side of the road, hoppers are crispy, bowl-shaped pancakes made with rice flour and served with sambols and curries. Araliya’s version is a sophisticated take on the classic, jazzed up with the addition of perfectly cooked scallops and light spiceds. We particularly enjoyed the crusted fish with mandarin, cucumber, gambodge and tamarind. The addition of pops of Australian native salt bush leaves was a welcome surprise, showing Melbourne’s multicultural food offering at its best. Other highlights included the Araliya Milawa chicken and the pork belly, which was quite noticeably leaner than some of the other pork bellies we have tried, and which came with a refreshing salad of rock melon and pickled papaya. Of our three desserts, the milk chocolate mousse with sweet potato custard was the highlight. Each mouthful of mousse and custard was more decadent than the next, with an almost ice-cream like consistency given further texture through pops of hazelnut crumble and thick salted caramel. The night was a great showcase of Araliya’s ability to successfully bring another cultural flavour to the suburbs. The restaurant is a welcome addition to St Kilda’s vibrant dining scene.
The Food Society dined as a guest of Araliya.
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