Why Melbourne is called, “Little Ceylon”
Posted on April 21st, 2021

By Dr harold Gunatillake-FRCS,FICS,FIACS,AM(Sing),MB,BS (Cey) –Health editor

Hoppers described as the love-child of a crepe & crumpet. It has become a very popular street food in Sri Lanka, in big towns and rural areas. It is now considered as a special ‘super staple food’

When Australia opened doors for Southern Asians in the late fifties and early sixties, it was a great opportunity for most Sri Lankans to migrate to Australia, those who disliked SWRD’s Sinhala only within 24 hour policy”

This gave a great impetus specially for the burgher community then, contributing to the good of the country, excelling on sports, athletics, trade, law enforcement, and so on, to leave her shores for greener pastures in Australia, and the loss this enterprising community is felt, even today in that developing country. Melbourne was the place preferred by many Migrants at the time, whilst a few professionals and others settled down in Sydney. Today, if you walk along the streets of Springvale in the city of Dandenong, Glen Waverley, Noble Park, Broadmeadows, no matter which way you turn, you are bound to bump-into” a Sri Lankan with a warm smile and a greeting of, Hello Machang, how are you?”

The Sri Lankan food industry in Melbourne is flourishing like no other; both Sydney and Brisbane run a poor second. In Sydney, to enjoy treats like hoppers you need to travel many miles, there is one place called the ‘Blue Elephant” in Pennant Hills, where you need to give them prior notice.

There are a few food caterers for home parties making hoppers on a circular device where at least ten hoppers could be cooked in one go. There is one lady by the name of Kumarika” fairly famous, catering hoppers cooked on the spot for home parties, in Sydney. Ask Dallas Achilles a talented musician, settled down in Melbourne for many decades, about Sri Lankan Courtesy: Walawwarestaurants.

He would say, Those living in close proximity to Clayton are blessed with an abundance of restaurants specialising in Sri Lankan Cuisine.” His favourite spots are Walawwa Restaurant, Café Ceylon, Kites, Merqury Inn, Fab and Cake Point, La Festiva under new management serving a variety of Sri Lankan and International Cuisine, Merqury Inn may have got their spelling wrong: It should read Mercury”. Sri Lankans love Pizzas just like the way they love hoppers.

Visit La Festiva in Springvale, they serve the best special Sri Lankan flavoured Gourmet Pizza, and for their dishes like Ambul Thiyal, Chicken devilled, Curry chicken and potatoes and Lamb Korma. Then there is the Corlam Kitchen in Glen Waverley for lunch. They serve a special Awadhi Dum biriyani, also called Pukka”.

Breath in the aroma of this princely mutton biryani, cooked the royal Awadhi style, a perfect delicious meal for your lunch or dinner feast with your family and friends. This spot” is available for birthday parties, celebrations, Graduations, weddings and Anniversaries, etc. The Chef’s special at Corlam kitchen is Chilli Crabs” only a few other restaurants, if any, serve this spicy dish.

Dallas would recommend ‘The Fab Curry & Pizza in Centre Road in Bentleigh for hoppers and pizzas. This is a rather little shop” at the far end of Bentleigh’s Centre Road, and primarily a take away” Business. It is fairly rare to see a combination- Sri Lankan Shop/Restaurant which serves both Hoppers” and also a Combination Curry Pizza”

When you visit this little place, you are always welcomed by a friendly Sri Lankan lady while being overpowered, at the same time with the enticing aroma of exotic spices. Dallas says that they serve 5 hoppers, an egg hopper and a bowl of chicken, beef or fish curry with sambol for $9. There are very good reviews on this Fab Curry & Pizza joint, and a worthwhile spot for a delightful tasty cuisine experience.

Awadhi Dum BiriyaniCafé Ceylon in Centre Road, Clarinda is another eatery. On their Menu” they feature Roti, Parata, Pittu with curry, wafer and Masala Thosai with fish, beef, chicken and vegetable curries. Vegans would love to patronise this joint. The nearby restaurants are- Champion in Clayton, Clayton Fish, Merqury Inn, Clayton and Kites in Clayton.

Walawwa”- ‘The Bungalow’ at Sandown Regency, Noble Park This is a favourite Eatery”, says Dallas. The best street foods of Sri Lanka are served here, at best prices in Melbourne for $ 25, and you could enjoy all you can eat. They have a dinner buffet with live music and entertainment. They have Set Meals” too, beginning with Starters” and snacks, soups, Main dishes like savoury rice, curry pasta with small pieces of roti stir fried with spicy vegetables and cheese, Chicken seafood and deserts.

They recently organised a Baila Masala Boogie Night with live music on one Saturday There are many other restaurants owned and run by Sri Lankans in Melbourne. Ask Dallashe will direct you. Dallas mentions a good Hopper Eatery next door to Curry & Chips” It is called Yamu” owned by Upali. There are many other Eateries” by Sri Lankan chefs other areas of Melbourne and outskirts, not visited to write about. Sydney as was mentioned earlier, boasts just a few Sri Lankan eateries and not within close proximity of each other, although they DO have more Chinese Restaurants than Melbourne. Is it any wonder then, that Melbourne has been nicknamed” Little Ceylon”?

What about Sydney Sri Lankan restaurants?

Sydney is also flourishing with Sri Lankan spicy food restaurants, focused to certain suburbs, such as Toongabbie, Seven Hills, Blacktown, Parramatta, where most of the recent Sri Lankan migrants live. Sri Lankans from all over Sydney make that long drive to these treat outlets, during weekends for a hearty spicy meal, to bring back memories of the foods cooked by their mothers and archies, at home.

One Response to “Why Melbourne is called, “Little Ceylon””

  1. Nimal Says:

    I am sad that many of my friends have settled in Australia.Hope they will retire in SL.

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