JR's Taste of Ceylon features a menu of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine.
We've driven by so many times, we've been aching to give this a shot. It's not as if Sri Lankan cuisine is sprouting up everywhere in Vancouver. Finally the stars aligned and we had a chance to give it a go.
It's not a great looking place outside, but neither is anything else in the neighbourhood. Our first worry ... nobody was in there. We sent in a scout, and we couldn't get even a mouse, so we left. Then we went in again a few minutes later and finally some dude shuffles in view.
We were the first and only ones at that time ... so presumably we had his undivided attention. Strangely enough, when we asked for a child booster chair he disappeared for what seemed like a good 10 minutes. What? Did he just whip one up in the back alley? Did he go steal it from a vacant house? Hmmm ... at least it gave us a chance to scope out the washrooms, which were impeccably clean. Good start there.
Well, that's where it all started to go downhill. Despite being the first and only ones, I think it took maybe 40 minutes or so for the first dish to arrive (which was pretty good, by the way). A few other tables trickled in and they had a hard time getting so much as a menu let alone a glass of water. Another table had to wander by and borrow the menus that were left with us. Okay, we won't beat around the bush. Most of the stuff we ordered was pretty decent and unique, nothing mind blowing. All except the last dish, the "lamprais", which, well, tasted a bit off. Which is funny since we were warned it would take 20 minutes to make (from what? from a batch of slightly off ingredients?). In actuality, it took us about 2 hours to get out of there. And there were only 3.5 other tables there (0.5 for the couple at the table that just had a beer and gave up due to lack of service). As we left, one of the other tables still hadn't gotten their food and none of the other tables had complete orders yet. Poor sods, they were probably lucky to get out of there before midnight.
We know there were at least 2 workers in the restaurant, and if you can't handle 4 tables with a fairly limited menu? My gosh, that's destined for failure. As much as I wanted to like this place, the final "off" dish did it in for me along with the excruciating wait. (Seriously, given a WiFi connection, Google, I could've whipped up those dishes myself in less time). Feel free to try if you have A LOT of time on your hands.
I hear a lot of complaints. I have tried many different type foods of this country. Food is great here. Service may not be great as they are not trained to run restaurants
I loved the fish cutlets , unreal. And also their roti with vege curry.
keep a note that south Indians and sri lankans only dip the bread in the curry so its not like in North India where they eat a lot of the curry so you get bigger dishes
sometimes better to research the food then criticize!
Great place. we will be back
During the hour or so we were at JR's, we were the only seated customers; one guy came in for a take out order. Truth in reviewing: this was a Monday night, around 7pm - in the rain - at least two strikes against a restaurant getting decent traffic. We were admonished that the meats were not yet finished, would a 15 minute wait be OK? I don't think in Sri Lanka we ever had a meal that took less than an hour to arrive (it's part of the charm) so this wasn't a problem.
We ordered a couple of curry dishes: meat (chix) plus 3 veg for one of us; seafood (squid) "devilled" curry and a side veg. The food was adequate. We've had "the real thing" in Sri Lanka and the flavours weren't bad, but nothing to compel us to return. There were two really pleasant waitstaff - both Philippinas, one so new that she didn't know what was in the items on the menu. My wife spotted the cook and thinks she's actually Sri Lankan or Tamil (a presumed prerequisite :)
The prices were reasonable but bore no correlation to the ingredient cost, quantity or preparation complexity. So the chicken curry with rice and sides were, say $10; the seafood curry alone was $14 - and didn't include the rice or side dishes. One "can't recommend": the eggplant curry was rather bitter and the skin inedible. Perhaps the bitterness was the way it should be, but I didn't care for it. The chicken was quite spicy by Canadian standards - fine by me (in-country it can be incredibly spicy cuisine) but might come as a surprise to less those preferring less fiery cuisine.
Beer selection was local (i.e. Molson...) and priced at about $4.50/a bottle - so 4 of them total amounted to a significant hunk of our bill, which totalled at about $60 less a groupon of $20.
The restaurant offers nightly specials (I noticed this on their web site - it wasn't particularly obvious) and these may bring in local Sri Lankans for a "taste of home". However, I don't think we'll be back. As we headed home to the West End, we passed by House of Dosas - another Sri Lankan restaurant nearby. IT was packed.
For adventurous diners, I'd suggest you check JR's website, and try one of their "speciality" evenings later in the week. I get the sense their heart is in the right place and I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm with my "damning with faint praise". For a "known quantity" in Sri Lankan, I'd much prefer House of Dosas.
Please let me recap on what exactly happened tonight. My parents and I went to JR to use our Dealfind coupon. We paid about $20 for $50 worth of food. We went into the restaurant to be greeted by a girl sitting at a table on her laptop computer. We were the only table at the time (it was almost 7pm on a Sunday night).
We were first of all, greatly confused by the menus because of its lack of descriptions (we're not Sri-Lankan or Indian). We order the Rotti, a hopper platter, curry chicken, curry beef with rice, and mango lassie.
First of all, let's go right into the curry chicken. It came COLD in a glass dish the size of a soy sauce dipping tray (extra small), for $6.99. Yes, $6.99 for 4 pieces of chicken that had more bones than meat. We complained to the waitress that it was cold, and she did not do anything to redeem herself, until I asked her to heat it up...in a microwave. We waited for 10 minutes to get it reheated. I heard the microwave beep twice, so she undoubtedly reheated it twice in those ten minutes. When it came back, it was indeed hot, but half of the curry had already evaporated.
The rotti was fine. The hoppers were not worth the $12 that we paid for. There were 5 rice cakes, that were less than stellar. The beef curry with rice tasted exactly like the curry chicken, and it felt like the whole dish was microwaved, as the dish lost its heat within 5 minutes. The only thing that was acceptable was the mango lassie. Yes, a drink. It just felt like mango yogurt, but that's fine. It was for $4.
This restaurant is not good at all. This is seriously the worst Sri-Lankan/Indian restaurant I have ever been to, and I will not hesitate to NOT come again. I will not come again. At the end of the night, the waitress told us that the computer system has problems with the Dealfind coupon, and that she couldn't print out a receipt. Is it that hard to write out the prices?
We feel that we have been thoroughly ripped off by the restaurant, as we feel that they have intentionally shrunk the portion sizes because we had a Dealfind coupon. We have also calculated our bill based on the menu, and realized that they charged us an extra 10% (it's not much, but the thought of it is just immoral).
Just do yourself a favour and please, don't visit this restaurant. The waits for food are ridiculous, the food is terrible, the service is unethical, and the atmosphere is common and unattractive. I am just being honest, I did not exaggerate any of my experiences.