Isso - fast food shrimps or prawns!
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
This is something quite unusual: a fast food restaurant which is all about prawns (or shrimps). Apart from a few exceptions, every dish is prawns. So how was it?
Address: 53 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 00300
Directions: shortly after the Cinnamon Red Hotel on the right side.
Phone: 011 777 0300
Covid Care: a sink outside to wash your hands; sanitiser available. Staff mostly wore masks.
Isso is a fairly typical fast food place but with one big difference: you won't get beefburgers, or pizza, or even sandwiches. What you get is prawns, prepared many different ways - including a prawn burger, if you can't do without! There are a handful of different starters and sides, but the menu is very much prawns. So if you like prawns, this place is for you!
Arriving at Isso, there are a few car parking spaces directly in front. There's also a basin for washing your hands before you go in.
It looks quite like a typical fast food joint. Ahead of you there is the counter for ordering, with the menu above. There's three main seating areas: to the right past the counter, to the left, and upstairs. The ground floor seating offers tables or one bar counter style. It all looked quite modern, fresh, light and clean.
We were welcomed by one of the serving staff, wearing a mask, who offered to explain the menu but as Sudda Dad had been there before we decided to manage it for ourselves.
For starters, you can choose from a range of standard offerings such as prawn toasts, onion rings, tempura prawns, spring rolls or calamari. Most of these are offered in a smaller portion, or a larger portion to share. There's also a couple of soups on offer.
For the main courses, you can either choose from a range such as fish and chips, biriyani, burger, kottu or nasi goreng - all based around prawns of course.
Alternatively you can build your own dish. First you select the type or size of prawn, then choose the flavour - there's plenty to choose from, including Jaffna curry, Thai curry, Singaporean, Japanese and more. You then choose your side dishes, such as fries, boiled rice or fried, or roast paan bread.
How Were the Starters?
We decided to start with the perennial favourites, prawn toasts and calamari rings, along with a portion of fries.
The starters came in paper cones on metal stands, apart from the toasts.
The prawn toasts were excellent - unusually large and thick pieces, very tasty, crunchy on the outside and soft inside, we were tempted to order another round. The calamari, on the other hand, were fine but were standard, they didn't stand out as being especially good or, thankfully, especially bad.
The sweet potato fries were a subject for much debate! While we all - even the teens! - agree that regular fast food fries are fattening, unhealthy, yadda yadda, and having sweet potato was creative and different, what we got was less tasty or crispy than a fry, and over salted. Normally we would easily finish two portions of fries between us be we actually left a lot of these unfinished.
We decided to try both the regular dishes and the customised so we ordered a burger, a fish and chips and a portion of regular prawns with Japanese teriyaki sauce.
At first glance the burger was a standard fast food chicken burger with salad, sauce and fries. Except it was prawn, not chicken, and sweet potato not regular fries. The burger patty was made from prawn but otherwise it was a normal burger and tasted, indeed, pretty good. It was garnished as usual with a little salad and ketchup.
The fish and chips too was rather good, or at least the fish was. A generous sized piece of fish, crumbed and fried, perhaps just slightly overdone but inside it was still juicy and tasty.
The oddball thing for both of these dishes was the fries, or chips. It's an interesting idea offering sweet potato fries instead of the regular ones and they can be tasty. However, they were not great. They were not crispy; the ones that came with the fish and chips were overcooked, and they were all heavily over-salted. Salty and burned doesn't work well with any type of fry, and most of ours went uneaten. Kudos for trying something different but it would be good to have a choice as to whether we want regular fries or sweet potato.
The prawns teriyaki, though, were excellent. Well cooked, well flavoured with a nice teriyaki sauce that was neither too sweet nor spicy, and overall well received! The rice that accompanied it was cooked just right and the side dish too was both well prepared and well presented. No complaints at all.
The only real shortcoming. OK you don't go to a prawn fast food place for desert, but it would be nice to have a choice beyond toffee or ice cream. Though the toffee pieces were quite good - crumbly, not too chewy. But the choice is just toffee or ice cream, that's it.
Service and Ambience
The staff were welcoming when we arrived and generally cheerful and helpful. The food took a while to arrive and after about a quarter of an hour I asked about it and they apologised and it came a few minutes later. Overall the service was fine.
The prices seem maybe slightly higher than expected. The main courses were around Rs1000 for the burger and Rs1500 for the other main courses. In total we paid just under Rs8000 for four starters, three main courses with a soft drink each.
Good starters, some very good main courses. The fish and chips is half way there; the customised main courses are all the way there! But for desert you'll have to move on somewhere else.
Prawn Toast fish & chips with coleslaw Sweet potato fries