Reviewed by Zainab Faizal | 11 months ago
South Indian food is a rare delight in Colombo, especially if you’re on the lookout for GOOD South Indian food. Shanmugas has mastered the art of Indian food and if you’re ever down at Crescat Boulevard or around Ramakrishna Road (in Wellawatte) make sure you get your daily dose of vegetarian food that you can handle without making a fuss.
This blessing has been around for quite a long time with a solid menu serving up some superb dosais, chaats and masala curries. Unfortunately, their new additions to the menu, although quite innovative, were heartbreakingly disappointing.
Samosa Chaat | Rs.200
This was the very first time I’ve tried samosa chaats and I truly, madly, deeply fell in love with this impeccable street food delight. It was two fat samosas completely drenched in sour curd, chickpea masala, a spicy yet sweet tamarind sauce, green mint chutney, onion slices and those long Indian snacks called murukku. Dip your spoon into this miracle, and feel a revolution begin in your mouth. The sudden burst of sweet, sour and spicy flavours all together reminds you of how Alia Bhatt went all ‘Radha on the dance floor’ – except in this case, Radha is the samosa chaat and the dance floor is your taste buds.
Poori with Aloo Masala | Rs.300
The South Indian version of comfort food! The poori was nice and round with little heat bubbles all over it meaning you know it’s fried to perfection. The aloo masala on the other hand, was smashed up potato seasoned with slight Indian spices, mustard seeds and caramelised onions making it a very ‘Indian’ mash! The soft and crispy poori dipped into the aloo is what you call relationship goals.
Ulundai Vade | Rs.75
Ah, the predictable vade. Let’s just say that the vade is akin to the ones you find elsewhere, only Shanmugas makes sure that theirs are made FRESH, CRISPY and HOT.
Pav Bhaji | Rs.200
Let me give you a little insight into this dish. This is a fast food dish from Maharashtra, India consisting of thick vegetable curry that’s fried with slightly toasted bread rolls. The dish came into existence during the 1850’s when it was made for mill workers since it was easy to make and consume (Also delicious). The thick vegetable curry has mashed cauliflower, potato and capsicum along with a special masala made solely for pav bhaji – this results in a smashing dish that is really BANG-ji; scoop some onto the buttered bread rolls and feel that foodgasm build up.
Cap Dosa | Rs.200
This is something I’ve enjoyed as a little kid, so it being a childhood favourite means I’ve tried some pretty good stuff. This was very ordinary; I don’t even know why we ordered this! There was a lot of ghee incorporated with a lovely thin and crispy dosa featuring their popular sambar that is super flavoured with the vegetable stock.
Aloo Paratha | Rs.240
YES, this is literally paratha stuffed with potato - the very same potato filling you’d find with the poori masala with perhaps a little more spice and zing. The paratha was average, which was disappointing because I had high expectations and all I got was cold, dry paratha with zero love whatsoever.
Lemon Juice | Rs.200
A lemon juice which had a sugar overdose, which meant we barely got any flavour from the actual sour lemon.
Plain Lassi | Rs.300
Buttermilk that was lightly sweetened whilst having a slightly salty flavour. We would have preferred it cooler.
Mango Lassi | Rs.300
The very same buttermilk drink which had a strong mango flavour, and tasted far better than the original lassi.
Blue Mocktail | Rs.350
This is a pathetic joke. Two stars for TRYING, but do not bring an international drink into an authentic Indian restaurant. Go ahead only if you can make a drink without loading the entire syrup bottle into the glass with a little to zero ice.
Chocolate Dosai | Rs.200
Initially built up excitement died down the moment the dish arrived. Not only did it look disappointing but also tasted horrible. There was barely any ‘chocolate’ - it felt rather like a chocolate substitute I’ve never tried before (are there even chocolate substitutes?).
The whole experience was super authentic with stainless steel plates, glasses and banana leaves on the plates. It felt like you were truly devouring South Indian food.
Interior and Ambience
Shanmugas vibes out a typical temple/South Indian restaurant-esque atmosphere in the chaat shop outside where you can watch them fry up your favourites.
The interior atmosphere is dark and busy with waiters and people bustling in and out, wooden tables and chairs and an interesting playlist in the background.
The staff were very straightforward - they simply take your order and return with the items in no time. They were quick, efficient and helpful.
It is still safe to admit that Shanmugas will continue being our favourite South Indian restaurant. It’s clean, delicious and reasonably priced in my opinion considering what they are offering in terms of hygiene and air-conditioned seating. Definitely heading back, whilst secretly praying they will improve on the chocolate dosai or simply take it off the menu.