Wadiya brings tropical flourishes to their interior design.
In January, Food GPS commenter Big T. tipped me off about Wadiya, a Sri Lankan restaurant in the shadow of Disneyland that claims to offer a “taste of paradise.” Tarzana’s Curry Bowl delivers the only other Sri Lankan experience in Southern California, so Wadiya instantly achieved must-try status.
The name of this five-month-old restaurant means “beach hut” in Sri Lankan, thus the visuals.
Charmaine Anthony partnered with chef Chinthaka Gunasekara, who hails from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. According to our waiter, Gunasekara learned to cook at a defunct Sri Lankan restaurant in New York and moved to Southern California to deliver his original recipes. The Dutch, British and Portuguese have all occupied the island over the years, and since Sri Lanka lies off the eastern shore of India, the flavors are even more varied, as demonstrated during our high-value lunch buffet ($10.99 per person).
Grab a plate and build a base of feathery vegetable noodles or dense coconut roti wedges.
Roti is an ideal vessel for Wadiya’s spicy chile sambal or caramelized onions. Pappadam is a less filling option similar to tortilla chips but made with lentil-flour.
King Fish Curry was a big winner, featuring moist cross-sections of fish cooked in a coconut milk gravy intensified with fresh Sri Lankan spices. Mango curry was also compelling, with tender cuts of spice-blasted rind that were somewhat sour. Beets helped to balance the mango’s potency, contributing some much needed sweetness.
We encountered several steam trays of curry, including tender, spice-soaked chicken drumsticks and bony, overcooked mutton nubs, the latter being Wadiya’s only disappointing dish.
Wadiya tossed tender, ripe jackfruit with dried chilies and bitter greens minced with dried coconut.
For dessert, we each received a square of Jaggery Cake baked with pumpkin, cashew and milk. The overall effect was similar to flan.
The flavors at Wadiya were shockingly different, a kaleidoscope of sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Wadiya’s buffet is such a good value that it’s hard to imagine ordering anything else at the restaurant, but sampling a sizzling stir-fry from the “Deviled Kitchen” sure is tempting.