PETALING JAYA: One would easily brush off Yarl as your typical South Indian joint, especially in a bustling neighbourhood like Brickfields.
For those not familiar with Sri Lankan history, Yarl is shorthand for Yalpanam in Tamil. Located on the northernmost tip of Sri Lanka, it is more commonly known as Jaffna.
Yarl is no stranger in Brickfields, having served authentic Jaffna dishes for over a decade. It was once a humble stall before it was refurbished and turned into a restaurant last year.
The restaurant offers refuge from the sweltering Malaysian sun and one cannot help but notice photographs of northern Sri Lanka hung all over the walls of the restaurant.
One of the joys of eating at Yarl is its wide variety of tantalising seafood dishes. The island of Sri Lanka is rich in seafood and it plays a major role in its cuisine.
General manager Sangeeth Sivagnanam tells FMT with great pride that Yarl’s uniqueness lies in its secret spices.
“The main difference between Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine is the spices. You won’t be able to get the curry powder we use for our dishes here.
“We import the spices from Sri Lanka to maintain authenticity and the talented chefs at Yarl grind them up according to recipes that have been passed down for generations in their families.”
Even the famous appam is made in a pan that was imported from Sri Lanka to enhance the dish’s authenticity.
Lately, afternoons have been scorching hot, so a refreshing drink is a good way to stave off the heat.
And Yarl’s excellent, mango lassi, which is thick with yoghurt and does not hold back on the fruitiness, hits the spot exactly. All the sweetness comes from the mango itself, there are no added sugars so it’s healthy as well.
Those in need of caffeine to get through the day should try Yarl’s Bru coffee, which is a comforting beverage served with fresh milk. Tea drinkers are not forgotten either, Yarl’s masala tea is just as spicy as it is reinvigorating.
But it is highly unlikely that anyone will stick to just a drink at Yarl. The array of tempting food on display will almost certainly be impossible to resist.
To start the feast, get a plate of healthy parboiled rice, preferably with a crunchy appalam to munch on. Add the restaurant’s signature dish, crab curry.
There’s a good reason why diners crave this seafood delight. Cooked with crabs fresh from the market, never frozen, the fresh taste of seafood is noticeable from the first bite.
There is also a large variety of pirattal and curries to choose from, with choices of protein including prawn, chicken, squid and mutton.
The mutton pirratal deserves a mention, with the juicy mutton served in bite-sized chunks that are all perfectly cooked.
Do not hesitate to scoop a generous amount of curry and drench the rice in it. Eating it with the hands will further enhance the dining experience.
Sri Lankan cuisine also offers a great many vegetable dishes and, likewise, patrons of Yarl should not miss these delights.
Try the sweet and crunchy beetroot varai, or spinach curry drenched with thick coconut milk, or the savoury long beans pirattal, or the crisp fried bitter gourd.
The brinjal curry, or kathirikai paal deserves an honourable mention of its own – a delectable, creamy mash of boiled brinjal spiced up and mixed with coconut milk.
Yarl also serves a unique dish that is not found in most restaurants, called “ponnanganni keerai varai”. An aquatic plant, ponnanganni is eaten as a nutritious vegetable in Sri Lanka, and Yarl’s offering is crunchy with a slight bitter taste.
When ordering drumstick curry at Yarl, don’t expect chicken. Drumstick here refers to the vegetable, known as “murungakkai” in Tamil.
Similar in appearance to okra, the exterior of the drumstick is tough and largely inedible, it’s the soft and tasty insides that are the draw of this dish. Scrape out the pulp with the teeth and enjoy the flavours of this delightful delicacy.
The fenugreek curry is also worth a try with its strong spice and addictive flavour, perfect to eat with a generous serving of rice.
In addition to the usual list of tosai, Yarl has its own take on the classic dish.
The Yarl Tosai has an unusual appearance. A bright shade of yellow, the tosai gets its colour from turmeric powder and is made with onions and curry leaves. It is a light, healthy and perfect meal that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
To put an end to your feast, treat yourself to an appam, with its sweet, egg or plain variants. The sweet appam in particular is a guilty pleasure for folks with a sweet tooth, with its centre filled with coconut milk and sweetened with brown sugar.
With such reasonable prices and a menu to satisfy everyone’s palate, there is little more to ask for at Yarl Restaurant.
50 Jalan Padang Belia
Breakfast: 7am – 11am
Lunch: 11.30am – 3pm
Tea: 3.30pm – 6pm
Dinner: 7pm – 10pm
Contact: (010) 360 6624