I can’t recall the last time I had dinner under a screen streaming You Tube videos of Kollywood movies. Out on a bustling Sunday evening in Sai Kung, it added further authenticity to some pretty solid Sri Lankan cuisine with one real standout dish at AJ’s.
The dining room out the back of AJ’s is otherwise pretty sparsely decorated when compared to its colourful counterpart out front, but the food is all from the same kitchen. The two full dining rooms and a fond reputation amongst locals is a good sign.
Talking of signs, another one declares:
For the three dining musketeers – including the brilliant founder of the brilliant charity Feeding Hong Kong – a hop around some classics and revisits of old friends. After poppadums and Sri Lanka’s finest brew, Lion, fried things featured corn and potato patties, as well as some disappointing and frankly weird vegetarian and meat samosas. Too dry, too tired, no pastry, just breadcrumb.
The ‘devilled prawn’ with onion, peppers, tomatoes garlic and ginger was taken to a ‘hot’ level when we ordered but underwhelmed both on the Scoville Scale and in overall impact, feeling more Iberian than Asian.
A huge pile of string hopper Khotu – steamed rice flour dough – bought back memories of time in Weligama and Mirissa – still the most picture perfect beach for me in Asia – but the texture also reminded why it’s not really something which has taken off outside Sri Lanka. There’s doubtless a knack to eating it right, but I’ve yet to work out what that may be. Maybe it’s the disconnect of eating what are essentially noodles in South Asia as opposed to North.
The best was definitely saved til last, however. We found our eggplant ‘moju’ was as good as hoped, sweet and sticky and with the right kick:
The absolute standout dish however made the trip to Sai Kung all worthwhile though with a brilliant black lamb curry. The simply named dish bought waves of flavor. For the price (a steal at $108) I’d be surprised if it was mutton and not lamb – but ironically that would be good thing given that mutton has a much more marked and profound flavor than their younger offspring. It was seriously generous in volume as well as spice and paired perfectly with roti featuring enough garlic to would ward off evil for about a millennium.
With wines and lagers we came out at a not at all unreasonable $818 for 3 people.