Highly rated Sri Lankan favourite offers plenty of fiery eats 2 Reviews
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When a reliable source shared his Sri Lankan neighbours’ secret, of an eatery that is capable of luring him from JLT to the other end of the emirate, in Al Qusais, it was too good a recommendation to pass up.
First impressions from the outside: the name was certainly apt. It was red and not unlike a box in its small, unassuming proportions. I wandered in, greeted by friendly staff, and took a seat. As it happens, not many diners joined me during my visit, but several people (who I assume to have been Sri Lankan) did come in to pick up takeaway orders, which seemed to be Red Box’s main method of serving the hungry community of Al Qusais.
After asking the waiter to recommend something small with which to start, I tucked into two thick, sweet, doughy buns, one with seeni sambol and one with fish. The former was filled with a rich caramelised onion mixture, with a slightly sour tang offsetting the depth of sweetness. The fish mixture was tasty, but it took some deep breathing for this chilli wimp to cope with the heat.
Fighting the fire in my mouth, I drank a freshly made, creamy avocado juice and moved on with bated breath to the recommended ‘string hoppers’ with curry. Similar to little wavy rice-flour noodle patties, the string hoppers came teamed with a creamy dal curry and coconut sambol (a sort of fragrant dry chutney of shaved coconut), plus the additional prawn curry the waiter suggested. Each dish had a wonderful balance of fruity, tangy and fragrant flavours, but each of them was infinitely too hot for me. Foolishly, I had hoped the freshness of the coconut would quell the fire, but it only compounded it.
Atypically, I put the spoon down (which, incidentally, the waiter had thoughtfully brought over, after seeing I was unlikely to cope with just my hands) and admitted defeat. Cue another avocado juice, and I was beginning to feel my tongue again when, endearingly, the waiter brought me a complimentary portion of buttery fudge, to help with the burning sensation.
If you want a good Sri Lankan food hit, and you can cope well with the heat, Red Box is a decent option.
The bill (for one)
1x fish bun Dhs4
1x seeni sambol bun Dhs3.50
1x string hoppers Dhs15
1x prawn curry Dhs21
1x large water Dhs3
2x avocado juice Dhs20
Total (excluding service) Dhs66.50
Time Out Dubai,
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