Jolly J’s, Port Phillip Arcade/232 Flinders St, Melbourne. Phone: 9650 9989
Jolly J’s is situated in Port Phillip Arcade, which is a lunchtime magnet.
It has a cheap and perennially busy multi-Asian joint, and Thai and Japanese places.
Further on – in Scott Alley, Bennie’s address for the first six weeks of his life – there’s a creperie.
At Jolly J’s, customer can order fish and chips, a steak sanger or even raisin toast.
But in all the years I’ve been eating here, I’ve never seen anyone eating any of those things – or anything like them.
Nope, just about everyone goes for a curry plate of one sort or another.
And everyone always includes a reassuringly high number of fellows of Sri Lanakan persuasion, usually a mixture of suited business types and younger, hipper students. Or folks who look like they could be students.
On this particular visit, though, I see several customers getting stuck into what looks like a pretty groovy Sri Lankan version of nasi goreng – bowl-mounded pile of rice, the same condiments that accompany the curry plates, hardboiled egg, papadam on the side.
And it’s only as I’m leaving that I realise after all this time that the restaurant actually has a menu, which features among many Sri Lankan and Western dishes kothu roti.
But that’s a maybe for next time.
Today, as it almost always is, it’s a wonderful plate of “rice with 3 veges & 2 meats” for $11.50.
Once I’ve inhaled my papdam, I’m right into it …
Good lamb and chicken curries.
A nice dal studded with silverbeet and curry leaves.
A smooth, delicate mix of cashews and peas.
A rather fiery spud-and-onion concoction.
A tangy “coconut sambol” and raita much more substantial with cucumber and tomato than is normally the case in the sort of Sub-Continental places Consider The Sauce habitually haunts.
The heat level seems to rise as my meal proceeds, so in the end my brow is beaded.
But it’s all good. Really good, actually.
Though there is one puzzling aspect to my lunch – this is the first time I can recall eating here and not being served at least one dish that includes eggplant.