In Short: Lankan Filling Station is leading the pack, as Sri Lankan cuisine really hits its stride across Sydney. Rock up, line up, and get yourself a few hoppers and brace yourself for a flavour explosion from the curries.
When I started thinking about writing this post, I was interested in the back story of O Tama Carey, owner and head chef at Lankan Filling Station. Reading her profile revealed a lady who got where she is in life by sheer hard work, persistence, flexibility, and no doubt a heap of cooking skills. To go from from Japanese, Italian, Chinese, and now to Sri Lankan cuisine shows a rare ability to adapt and excel.
Now in Lankan Filling Station she has a restaurant that has captured the imagination of Sydney’s diners. Living in Sydney’s north west, I have access to many small eateries in the corridor between Blacktown and Parramatta that serve up southern Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. While they are cheap and cheerful, and satisfy a craving, they tend to come up short in one area or another. At Lankan Filling Station we experienced perhaps the definitive Sri Lankan dining experience. From entrees, mains, desserts, interesting concoctions from the bar and a vibrant dining atmosphere. Little wonder then, in its first year of operation it has already garnered a chef’s hat from the Good Food Guide.
I never thought I would be eating fresh Rock Oysters at a sub continental restaurant, yet that’s what I find myself doing at Lankan Filling Station. I love the fresh zesty dressing with a hint of spice but there is no doubting that the oyster is front and centre. Its creamy, briny goodness comes through beautifully.
From delicate oysters we went to the opposite end of the flavour spectrum with Pan Rolls. The potato pan roll was robust with heady curry flavours coming through. I have tried similar pan rolls across Sydney, but these stand above them all. A thin crispy outer that is golden brown gives way to the potato filled centre. We also tried a beef pan roll which contained a savoury mince filling and was just as good.
It would be disingenuous of me not to admit, the sole inspiration for a visit to Lankan Filling Station was the Hoppers. My south Indian heritage means that hoppers hold a special place. Our Christmas day was punctuated by a meal which include appam (hopppers). While we slept in on Christmas day, my Mum would be up at the crack of dawn every Christmas day making hoppers. So, when the hoppers are placed in front of me, there are tinges of sadness as I remember how Mum used to appreciate our love for these type of pancakes with crisped up, laced, intricate edges and a soft spongy centre. Egg hoppers are accentuated by the yolk pouring of the middle like the best cooked scotch egg or eggs benedict. They are marvelous, and the best examples, except perhaps those that came from Mum’s appam tawa.
You can order a couple of curries for your hoppers, but just as good with them was a Pol Sambol. I loved the almost refreshing mouth feel of the Pol Sambol. Coconut, lime, chilli and maldive fish is a funky combination but it’s a unique flavour that is worth sampling. I found it really mated well with the hoppers and can imagine it would do just as well with a rice and curry dish.
To round out a splendid first experience at Lankan Filling Station we finished with two curries. A Black Curry with chunky pieces was robust and fiery. While the menu indicated a 3 out of 5 chilli rating, I thought it was fiery, and I wasn’t objecting. I love the spicing and the flavour.
At the opposite end of the heat index was Ling Fillet Fish Curry. It was aromatic, with a subtle layer of spice that allows the flavour of the ling to sing. I loved how at Lankan Filling Station you can go from a sweat inducing pork curry, to a nuanced curry featuring the fruit of the sea.
Lankan Filling Station is a restaurant that belongs in Sydney and champions the cuisine of country that is represented here amongst our population. I loved its casual approach, replete with pencil and paper, where you make your choices for the evening. Sure the staff were super helpful, but if it’s not on the paper form, you’re not getting it! The experience exceeded our expectations and will go down as one of my favourites for 2020!