Restaurants

17 Reasons Why You Should Run, Not Walk To Lankan Filling Station | The Verdict

By Rebecca Mitchell - 03 Sep 2018

Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List
Lankan Filling Station | The Urban List

Why is Sydney flush with some international fare (American-style burgers, anyone?), and noticeably lacking in others?

Sri Lankan is among those underserved in Sydney—but we’re readying ourselves for a boom thanks to the opening of Lankan Filling Station in Darlinghurst.

There is no shortage of reasons to get there as quickly as you can, but if you’re stubborn, it’s now my personal quest to convince you…

  1. The egg hoppers. For $6 a piece, these little pancake bowls made of fermented rice batter will blow your mind if you’ve never eaten them before. Traditionally, you tear off bits of the pancake to scoop or soak up your curry, although you’d be forgiven for heading straight for the cutlery!

  2. Lankan Filling Station is a truly original restaurant. Yep, I’m calling it. Sri Lankan restaurants are few and far between in Sydney city, with our ‘Little Sri Lanka’ considered to be in the western Sydney suburb of Toongabbie. You may have tried Dish in Glebe or Kammadhenu in Newtown, but Lankan Filling Station doubles down with trendy Darlinghurst digs and a highly acclaimed chef (more on that later). The killer combo creates a dining experience you simply won’t find elsewhere in the city. 

  3. Speaking of the incredible chef, it’s time to get familiar with O Tama Carey. You may have enjoyed her hoppers at Carriageworks farmer’s markets, but the Adelaide-born, Sri Lankan-descended master has actually worked her way through some of Sydney’s best kitchens, including Billy Kwong and Berta.

  4. Almost everything at Lankan Filling Station is gluten-free. There are currently only two menu items that aren’t (the pan rolls and love cake), making this every Coeliac’s paradise.

  5. The price is right. For a nice Darlinghurst restaurant, the most expensive dish on the menu is only $22 and everything is made to share. I would estimate budgeting $40-$50 per head (plus drinks), depending on how many people in your party and how hungry you are. However, you could also dive in with the $60pp banquet!

  6. Pan rolls. If you’ve been to Sri Lanka, you’ve probably enjoyed this seriously underrated street food. It’s like the love child of a samosa and a spring roll. Filled with either beef or potato, crumbed and deep fried, pan rolls are basically the Sri Lankan equivalent of a tuckshop treat.

  7. Vegetarians and vegans are very well-catered for at Lankan Filling Sation. The hoppers are vegan (except, of course, for the egg ones) and there are some tasty veg curries to get around too. I would recommend adding the Dahl or Cabbage Mallung to your feast.

  8. The fish curry. Oh my lord, this dreamy coconut and curry powder-based curry is heavenly. On my visit, the fish of the day was snapper and I couldn’t get enough. I would return for this dish alone!

  9. Sambol. These little side dishes should be sprinkled over the top of any Sri Lankan meal for extra flavour. Try them all with the tasting plate or go for my favourite Pol Sambol, which is made of dried coconut, chilli, paprika and Maldive fish (a small, dried fish).

  10. The tea. Don’t forget Ceylon tea is widely considered the finest in the world, so if you care for a post-meal refreshment, this might be the way to go.

  11. The spirits. Lankan’s carefully-selected spirits all offer a little nod to Sri Lanka. For example, the gin is brewed in the nation’s capital, Colombo. There’s also a Sri Lankan arrack for those who dare!

  12. The gelato. Eat your heart out, Messina! Lankan Filling Station is serving up some one-of-a-kind flavours, including ginger and turmeric or spiced jaggery (Sri Lankan palm sugar). 

  13. Ok, ALL the desserts. You should schedule a visit for the desserts alone. As well as gelato, there’s also Sri Lankan love cake, Wattalapam (custard) and buffalo curd and Kithul (palm treacle)—all Sri Lankan staples.

  14. The spices. Sri Lanka is known for its medicinal—and delicious—herbs and spices. In its cuisine, you will commonly find the likes of turmeric, ginger, chilli, curry leaves and cinnamon, to name only a few. The moral of the story: it’s certainly an ideal meal for those cold and flu months.

  15. String hoppers are another Sri Lankan delicacy that you won’t really find in other food cultures. Like the other hoppers, string hoppers are also used as a kind of dipping ‘bread’, but they are essentially patties of rice noodles. 

  16. The wine list might be small, with only 10 bottles to choose from, but it is mighty and mostly organic or minimal intervention. You can order by the glass or 500ml carafe, plus there’s a Sparrow & Vine rose on tap for those who love a natural wine. 

  17. The coconut and coffee slushie. Believe me, once summer rolls around, you’ll be begging for this caffeine hit.

What else is new in Sydney? We recommend you try this totally charming bakery, or this karaoke joint that's straight outta the streets of Shinjuku. 

Image credit: Bob Barrett. 

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