The spiciest local meal that ever challenged me was at the long-since-departed Sri Lanka Curry House. Several dishes incorporated such incendiary seasonings that perspiration would begin to bead on my forehead when the serving platters were set down on the table. A sample bite or two was all I could countenance. So it was with a bit of apprehension that our expeditionary team set off for the far reaches of Rosemount to visit a new Sri Lankan restaurant called House of Curry. I’m happy to report that the experience at this small strip-mall storefront completely recalibrated my fire and brimstone impressions of this subcontinental island cuisine. Just about everything we sampled delivered nuances of flavor that lit up the scoreboard. If this place were located on Eat Street, there would likely be a line out the door.
One of the best examples of the tempered restraint we enjoyed was an offbeat appetizer of spicy cauliflower. The crunchy, lightly fried vegetable florets were swaddled in a wonderful piquant glaze that built by the bite to a sublime intensity. A similar symphony of flavors was found in the chili shrimp, which took it even higher with a garnish of chopped leeks, cilantro, onion, and a squeeze of lemon.
Though we barely made a dent in the menu, there were numerous other items that we would enthusiastically order again. The devilled lamb—an indigenous stew of lean sautéed meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, and Sri Lankan herbs sided with rice—reminded me of a Chinese sweet-and-sour stir-fry. The oddly named “string hoppers,” apparently a Sri Lankan breakfast staple, involved patties of translucent steamed rice noodles, which served as a base to a choice of protein and a delicious coconut curry sauce spooned over the top. A third standout was the simple but elegant dhal curry, a bowl of creamy lentils simmered in a coconut curry sauce and accompanied by a side of fluffy flour-based roti. The same flatbread is fried and shredded to add crunchy texture to a Sri Lankan street dish called kottu roti, which included sautéed vegetables, eggs, and chicken or lamb. This dish is best with a few spoons of the coconut curry condiment, plus some sprinkles of fried coconut sambol. About the only item that drew any meaningful criticism was the pol roti: puck-size rounds of fried coconut flatbread topped with tasty bits of tamarind-spiced tuna and a jammy onion chutney. We thought the thick, dense flatbread dominated the other components.
When we visited, business was light and the service couldn’t have been more attentive and helpful. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so we dined at an early hour and benefited from the light streaming in the windows off the bright-colored walls. 3420 W. 150th St., Rosemount, 651-344-7744,houseofcurrymn.com