Upali's is the go-to place for a satisfying and authentic Sri Lankan dining experience which doesn't break your bank. Yes, the price tag is way more than you would pay for a pol-sambol or chicken curry elsewhere, but the difference here is that this is a nice restaurant with good service, and not a roadside joint.
Sticking to a purely Sri Lankan menu, you know what you're getting here. With everything from sambols, rottis, soups and curries to dedicated vegetarian options, there's a spread that would satisfy any spice lover. They've even got roast paan. We got that along with a side of pol sambol with our Elumas Kaluwata Uyala, (black mutton curry), which was one of the more expensive items on the menu at Rs. 900 but with enough curry for two people.
The boneless version of this mutton curry is around Rs. 1150, but even the one with bones barely had any. The meat was soft and packed in a lot of flavour (both the meat's own flavour and the spice rubbed in it), and had a decent amount of delicious fatty bits in as well.
I got a Temperadu Buth (Rs. 230) with Kukul Mas Mirisata (Rs. 350) and a Gotukola Sambolaya (Rs. 250) (tempered rice, spicy chicken, and a gotukola sambol). You have to order the rice and curries separately, but the curries are enough for about two or three people. The food isn't inventive because it's your regular local cuisine, but it is brilliantly prepared and unpretentious.
No frills and feathers or unexpected twists: the pol sambol is fresh and zesty with plenty of maldive fish, the chicken is how your mother would make it, the gotukola is what makes you love greens. Only gripe I have with is the tempered rice, which was a tad too dry and undercooked.
On the other hand though, the Set Menu rice was incredibly fresh off the stove and moist. It was hot-hot and perfectly complimented the condiments it came with. For Rs. 340, you get a portion of pappadams, fried and dried chilli, dry fish, and three vegetable curries of your choice (beetroot, kos, beans, or whatever is available). It's a pretty good deal.
For Drinks, we got Chandra's Thirst Quencher (Rs. 320) and a Fresh Lime and Soda for Rs. 270. The thirst quencher combines thambili, passionfruit, and a touch of honey, and is quite superb to beat the heat; thambili has that effect anyway. The mix of lime and soda in this was very well balanced, with neither flavour overpowering the other.
A shoutout to their Kiri Pani (curd and treacle) because of how incredibly good the curd was. If the curd is edible on its own without sweeteners, it's pretty darn good curd. This was creamy, lightly sweet, and had just the right amount of sourness. Presented in a small clay pot with a layer of non-sugary golden treacle syrup, this was the perfect dessert to end our lunch with.
The ambience is unchanged from back when they started; very simple, plenty of seating and natural light. The staff are a bit slow to come and take your order, but soon after you get their attention things flow pretty smoothly. Food arrives within 15 minutes, and tables are cleared soon as your plates are.
Upali's is definitely one of our favourite Sri Lankan restaurants out there. While you can find great local fare all over the island, these guys pair it with a lovely family-friendly space and service in the heart of the city!
One of the few restaurants that executes great Sri Lankan cuisine.
Upali's is probably the most successful new restaurant in Colombo, because they occupy an obvious niche. Good Sri Lankan food in a comfortable setting at an affordable price. We love it.
Sri Lankan food in Sri Lanka should be a no-brainer, but Upali's are the first to do it successfully and well. They offer good renditions of classic dishes in a comfortable (and busy) environment. The prices are reasonable as well.
Upali's is a welcome new restaurant near the Nelum Pokuna junction. It does affordable Sri Lankan food in an Indian style location with excellent service.
සිංහල උපාලිගේ ලංකා කෑම ටිකක් ගණන් තමයි, ඒ වුණාට අපි හිතන්නේ ගානට වටිනවා. ගිනි ගණන් නෙමෙයි, අනික හොඳ වාතාවරණයක ඉඳල කන්න පුළුවන්