What we had
Affordable seafood in a quirky environment
Conveniently located near Kollupitiya, Isso is a joint that has been popular for quite a while, especially among the seafood fanatics of Colombo. They recently opened up their top floor to the public with a pleasant bar space, which we went to check out, only to discover new items on the Isso menu that we hadn’t tried yet. Here’s how it went!
Red Smoothie (LKR 590)
I was surprised to receive a bright pink (think Sharpay from High School Musical) concoction when the menu said “Red Smoothie”. This one makes for a good breakfast drink and is thick and rich enough to replace a meal. Presenting a good balance, the drink was both tangy and earthy, thanks to its beetroot and orange flavours. It is sweetened with kithul treacle so it’s completely healthy!
Lemonade (Orange and Lemongrass) (LKR 390)
Isso has a bunch of unique lemonades listed on their menu so we decided to try one out. The raspberry and passion fruit one that we initially wanted wasn’t available so we opted for this one instead. The lemongrass flavour is the most prominent while the citrusy notes of orange and lemon mingle.
Calamari Rings 2pc (LKR 290)
These were a good deal at about LKR 150 each. While the coating was perfect, the calamari itself lacked a little flavour. The tartar sauce added flavour, but I am a firm believer that a dish should rely on its sauces only to complement, not to add flavour. This one can be improved.
Crab Cakes 2pc (LKR 490)
We have a winner! Delicious from the very first crispy bite. With a thicc (yes, I said it!) even breadcrumb coating, this cake was STUFFED with crab meat that falls apart when you bite in. A mild flavour of spice plays with your taste buds, but it does not overpower the taste of the meat. I could have happily eaten about 10 of these, but I get paid to review the whole menu and not just the appetisers. Oh well
Prawn and Avocado Salad (LKR 690)
Fresh greens topped with avocado and shrimp. While it was nice to enjoy a fresh salad that is one of the healthier options on the menu, we do wish this came with a dressing to add more flavour.
Isso Burger (LKR 990)
I haven’t met a burger quite like this one. A deep-fried, crumb-coated prawn patty awaits you in the middle of a healthy helping of salad, cheese and an egg. The bun isn’t the softest, but its sturdiness kept the whole thing from getting soaked by the sauces and collapsing. There is also a play of various textures which makes for an interesting mouthfeel. Definitely recommend this one.
Baked Crab (LKR 1990)
Perhaps what is most interesting about Isso are their presentation and unexpected methods of preparing food. This dish consisted of two crab shells filled to the brim with meat with a side of grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes. A prawn cracker topped with a salad garnishing the mashed potatoes completed the whole ensemble. Top marks for presentation!
The mashed potatoes were creamy and cheesy. The texture could be improved but the taste was great. The crab meat was a unique preparation, breaded with a myriad of sweet and sour flavours dancing a tango on your tongue. YUM!
Laksa Noodle Soup (LKR 990)
Normally a Laksa soup is spicy enough to relieve a stuffy nose. This one was moderately spicy which surprised us but made us appreciate the flavours of the dish more. While it is messy to eat (slippery noodles are a task and a half), it had a generous helping of seafood and tofu, which tasted delicious coated in the sweet, sour and spicy broth. For those who want to enjoy a Laksa without numbing their taste buds, this one is great.
The staff were kind and helpful. There was only one guy manning the top floor when we walked in, but he did an excellent job, simultaneously taking our orders, informing the kitchen, whipping up cocktails for our review of Shrimp Daddy and serving. The space is eclectic and colourful, a theme that runs across both floors. The top floor has been converted into a bar, with dim lighting creating a romantic ambience, whereas the bottom floor remains your family-friendly food joint that is very Instagrammable!
Good value for money, Isso does a terrific job at perfecting their dishes and providing great service. We can’t wait to go again!
Tip – Forget everything else. Try the Baked Crab. Thank me later.