#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | All you can eat hotpot at Hotpot City, Bankstown » | Ester, Chippendale » | Gure Txoko Basque Club, Sydney » | A1 Canteen, Chippendale » | Granny Wolf BBQ, Central Park Mall, Chippendale Sy... » | Lakemba Ramadan Food Festival 2018 » | Black Bear BBQ, Blacktown » | Gami Chicken & Beer, Central Park Sydney » | Raclette Tuesdays at Handpicked Cellar Door, Sydne... » | All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ (for cheap!) at Charcoa... »

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Lankan Filling Station, Darlinghurst

Hoppers with sambol at Lankan Filling Station by O Tama Carey in East Sydney

It's open. Lankan Filling Station is now trading at its new home in Darlinghurst. Expect lacy crisp hoppers, spicy curries and cooling coconut sambols at this narrow and buzzy eatery. It's a long overdue opening for O Tama Carey, who left her head chef role at Berta in 2014. Fans were first teased with Lankan Filling Station at its Brickfields pop-up in July 2016. Two years (and one drawn-out gas connection) later - with intermittent appearances at Carriageworks Farmers Market - Lankan Filling Station has a permanent abode. And I couldn't be happier.

Dining room at Lankan Filling Station by O Tama Carey in East Sydney
Lankan Filling Station

The dining room is long and skinny, bookended by a bar and the open kitchen. On the day we dined we spied Carey, Jemma Whiteman and Pasi Petanen on the pans. Shelves stacked with gigantic jars filled with spices provide both colour and an easily accessible pantry.

Hot butter cuttlefish by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Hot butter cuttlefish $18

The Short Eats section of the menu is where you'll find all the snacks, everything from crunchy murukku chickpea chips to crab cutlets (crab balls) to pan rolls, potato or beef fillings wrapped in a crepe and fried like a giant spring roll.

Whatever you do, make sure you order the hot butter cuttlefish, a Sri Lankan Chinese dish that's like salt and pepper squid on crack. Tender cuttlefish. Crisp batter. And a mouth tingling hit of chilli and spices. It's all jumbled together with onion, shallots and long chillies then bathed in butter. This is the kind of dish you could eat with a bowl of plain rice and be deliriously happy.

Egg hopper set with pol sambol and seeni sambol by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Egg hopper set (1 plain and 1 egg) with pol sambol and seeni sambol $18

But here, it's the hopper that reigns supreme. String hoppers, a kind of pancake made from steamed rice noodles, are a Sri Lankan breakfast staple but we skip these in favour of the appam hoppers, bowl-shaped crepes available individually or as a set with sambol sides.

Egg hopper set with green pol sambol and kata sambol by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Egg hopper set (1 plain and 1 egg) with green pol sambol and kata sambol $18

We find the hoppers here are a little thicker in consistency compared to say, X Dream or Amma's Modern Kitchen in Toongabbie, but it means the lacy frill around the edges is louder in crunch, and stays crisp for longer.

You can use cutlery to eat these but the traditional way is to use your hands, tearing them apart and using the fermented batter crepe to scoop up curry, sauce and sambol.

The sambols are all terrific. I'm keenest on the green chilli pol sambol but there's much to like about the dried chilli kata sambol, sweet onion relish seeni sambol and the red chilli pol sambol too. The faint saltiness of the shredded Maldive fish against the freshly grated coconut is what makes pol sambol so addictive.

Goat in a black and dry curry by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Goat in a black and dry curry with sweet spices $18

We order the black and dry curry with goat - the kitchen alternates cooking this curry with goat and mutton - and are rewarded with a deeply aromatic curry heavy with black pepper and cardamom.

Prawn red curry by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Prawn in a fiery red curry soured with tamarind $20

The prawn curry isn't half as fiery as we expect, nor particularly sour with tamarind, but it's terrifically tasty, balancing sweet and tangy savouriness with just-cooked prawns.

Eggplant with tomato and tamarind by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Eggplant with tomato and tamarind $12

We devour the eggplant too, caramelly to the point of sticky. These are fried with tomatoes, onions, curry leaves and a heap of mustard seeds that add another dimension of crunch. Our table is loaded with so many dishes it feels like we're having a banquet.

Strawberries with rose syrup, long black pepper and whipped coconut cream by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Strawberries with rose syrup, long black pepper and whipped coconut cream $10

While we're still deciding on dessert, the kitchen sneakily sends out two sweets on the house. The strawberries with rose syrup is a daily special, and what looks like a simple dessert at first glance grows on me with each spoonful. The rose syrup sauce is mellow, spiked with the intriguing complex flavour profile of long black pepper. Add fresh sweet strawberries and a cloud of whipped coconut cream and it's hard to resist going back for more.

Watalappam baked jaggery custard by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Watalappam baked jaggery custard $12

I'd been about to order the watalappam when it lands on our table too.

Watalappam baked jaggery custard by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Watalappam baked jaggery custard with cashews and sesame seeds

The baked jaggery custard is smothered in a thick blanket of crushed cashews, toffee shards and sesame seeds. With your first spoonful you'll notice a comforting hit of cardamom. It's a combination that reminds me of the flaky Indian dessert, soan papdi (if you haven't tried it, get a packet from your local Indian grocer. It's amazing).

King coconut sorbet at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
King coconut sorbet $6

The sorbets and gelatos aren't made inhouse but they are produced in arrangement with RivaReno Gelato. I'm outvoted on the spiced jaggery gelato that's said to taste like chai, and settle on the king coconut sorbet instead. It's almost floral in taste and not overly sweet, made from what we expect is king coconut water. There's a ginger and turmeric gelato too.

Buffalo curd with kithul palm treacle by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Buffalo curd with kithul palm treacle $8

We order the dahi, a fermented curd made with buffalo milk. There's a marked sourness to the curd, not unlike natural yoghurt, tempered by the subtle sweetness of kithul palm treacle. A sprinkle of toasted buckwheat lends nuttiness and crunch.

Milk hopper with jaggery and coconut milk by O Tama Carey at Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney
Milk hopper with jaggery and coconut milk $8

And of course we  had to order a milk hopper. Or two. Milk hoppers are delicious not just for the inclusion of jaggery cane sugar but the generous dollop of coconut cream as well. Heaven.

Lankan Filling Station by O Tama Carey in East Sydney

There are still so many more dishes we've yet to try. We need to make our way through the fish curry, the potato white curry and the dhal. If the staggering choice is all too much, you can order the $60 banquet that includes dessert as well as unlimited plain hoppers. Stop by and fill up soon.

Entrance to Lankan Filling Station by O Tama Carey in East Sydney


Lankan Filling Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lankan Filling Station
58 Riley Street, East Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8542 9936

Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday 12pm-10pm
Saturday 10am-10pm
Sunday 10am-4pm
3 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/01/2018 08:37:00 pm


3 Comments:

  • At 8/06/2018 11:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OK, I accept there is a "hipster premium" at a place like this but $18 for a couple of hoppers? Toongabbie pricing is about $4 for two.
    Stan.

     
  • At 8/07/2018 6:39 am, Blogger 17th stitch said…

    I love this review and I want to fly to Australia just to eat here.

     
  • At 8/07/2018 9:23 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    damn that cuttlefish sounds good but I mean you had me at 'bathed in butter'

     

Post a Comment

<< Home


      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts