Fusion Ceylon, 27 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 9741 9656
Sri Lankan tiramisu?
What might that look and taste like?
Like this: Basically a regular tiramisu configuration but one made with sweet Sri Lankan coffee; spiced with cumin and cardamom; the usual sponge fingers joined by gingernut biscuits; and topped with cashews and chewy praline.
The textures are, well, pretty much pure tiamisu but the flavours are musty, mysterious and magical.
And happily, for my tastes, this SL tiramisu is far from overly sweet and actually nicely on the bitter side.
It’s the creation of co-proprietors and co-cooks Isuru Madusanka and Chiran Hemadas at their new baby, Fusion Ceylon.
CTS has been to 27 Watton Street before, when it was being run as a game try at combining SL food with burgers, fish & chips and the like.
Since then, and before Isuru and Chiran arrived, it reverted to strictly fast-food under different management.
The place still bears hallmarks of its fast-food heritage but the lads have brought in some nice wooden furniture that gives the place a sweet cafe vibe.
Fusion is, of course, in food terms a much over-used and abused word, frequently denoting not much good at all.
These two blokes, though, have the background – many years between them working in top-shelf hotels – to cleverly, and deliciously, match the cooking of their SL culture with approaches a little more edgy.
Their menu (see below) is short but full of intrigue and of low prices.
Item: Chickpeas and sprats ($10) – stir-fried chickpeas with onion rings, chilli flakes, mustard seeds and sprats. The sprats, I’m told, a similar to the dried anchovies used elsewhere in Asia.
Item: Another dessert – this time it’s banana fritters … wok-fried bananas with treacle, macerated strawberries and vanilla ice-cream.
We stick with more humble dishes for our first visit yet are very satisfied.
Nasi goreng a la Ceylon ($13) appears to be not much different from the regular versions, though Chiran tells me the spicing is different and they use basmati rice instead of jasmine.
But it’s all good – the rice is packed with a finely diced vegetables and chicken chunks and the gooey fried egg sitting atop is just right, as is the nicely charred chicken drumstick.
The prawn crackers are, as they always are, unnecessary.
The same vegie mix is found on the noodles kothu ($10), which come from the specials list.
As with the more traditional roti kothu, in which roti is finely chopped with the other ingredients, here the noodles get the chop treatment.
And instead of chicken or pork, mine is served with lingu – house-made SL sausages that draw on a Dutch heritage.
Chiran and Isuru make them with chicken or pork, vinegar, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, pandan leaf and curry leaf.
There’s one snag on top of my kothu and pieces mingled in.
The sausage is distinctive and quite tangy – but not in the least confronting.
The kothu noodles are served with what I’m told is a “mixed meat gravy” for adding as I eat.
It’s very nice and tasty lubricant.
Meanwhile, it seems you can take the chefs out of five-star hotels but taking the five-star hotels out of the chefs can take some adjustment.
As we have been talking , I’ve had to rather sternly – but amid all-round laughter – request of Chiran that he please, please cease referring to me as “Sir”!