Being of Sri Lankan origin and having a constantly burgeoning Sri Lankan community here in Melbourne, it always astounds me how few Sri Lankan restaurants we have. Yes, there are plenty of take away options available if you want some savory rolls or a hot Sri Lankan curry, but when it comes to having a proper sit down dinning experience in an actual restaurant, I could probably count the number of 'proper' Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne on one hand.
The waiters were friendly but not very attentive, despite the restaurant being quiet. As for the menu, I felt it could do with a few more vegetarian dishes that came with curry, as opposed to being on the dry side. For me there's nothing worse than dry rice with dry curry, just a tad bit difficult to get down!
Having two vegetarians amongst us. We mostly stuck to herbivorous choices, well all but me. I ended up ordering the string hopper pilau with beef ($18.50), which is basically like fine noodles mixed with vegies. U ordered the vegetarian string hopper pilau ($16) and R and V decided to share and ordered two serves of steamed basmati rice ($5ea), a deep fried chilli onion sambol, otherwise known as lunu miris ($4), the pepper fried okra (bandakka) sans the sun-dried white bait, to make it vegetarian friendly ($14) and one of the specials of the day, the pennywort salad (gotukola sambol). The salad consisted of; pennywort leaves, shredded coconut, tomato, onion and lemon juice. I'm not sure how much the salad was, I think it was around the $14 range, but it's not a regularly available option on Araliyas' menu.
The food was tasty but not outstanding and it was on the pricier side. Had I tried the meat dishes I would have expected something pretty amazing if I was going to part with nearly $40 for a dish. I can't but help compare Araliya to Elephant Corridor (another Sri Lankan restaurant, located in Glen Waverley). The latter wins hands down and definitely gives more bang for your buck.
Given we stuck to vegetarian options the prices were not too unreasonable, but flicking through the menu, their meat and seafood dishes were well overpriced. The jaggery beef caught my eye, but at $36 looked a little steep, as did the deviled prawns which were priced the same. The desserts were similarly pricy, all ranging between $14 and $15. Though we didn't try any at Araliya, I absolutely love and would recommend you try watalappan, which is a baked coconut custard with jaggery (palm sugar) and if you like cake, you really can't go past love cake.
From Araliyas' website it looks like they have a curry night every Wednesday from 6pm onwards, where you get eight dishes with a glass of premium wine, all for $45.00 per person (minimum 2 people). I think this option may in fact be better value for money if you're itching to try Araliya out.
My Rating: 7/10