MELBOURNE | Lankan Tucker is a Sri Lankan café In Brunswick West that’s been around for a while. It actually began life as a pop-up market stall, which I first visited at the Queen Victoria Night Market a decade ago. I was recently invited in to the café to reacquaint myself with things.
Couple Nerissa Jayasingha and Hiran Kroon started Lankan Tucker in 2012, with the aim of introducing Melburnians to Sri Lankan cuisine. At the time, awareness of Sri Lankan food in Melbourne wasn’t as widespread as it is today. Nerissa and Hiran are a part of why that’s different now.
It’s the classic story of a new generation growing up embarrassed by their food, wanting to be like everyone else growing up, embracing their food and culture, and how it intertwines and adds to the melting pot that is Australia.
The small, focused menu is roughly split into three. There’s Sri Lankan takes on Melbourne brunch favourites, a section dedicated to traditional Sri Lankan street food and home-style food, and creations that defy categorisation.
I love hoppers, so had to try Lankan Tucker’s version. It’s a turmeric hopper with a runny fried egg, served with string hoppers, three sambols, coconut milk gravy, and your choice of chicken or veg curry. The textures are diverse, the flavours vibrant, complex, and delicious. The wonderful curry is made using Hiran’s mum’s recipe.
The buriyani burrito, which began life as a staff meal made by the cafe’s former barista a few years back, intrigued me. It’s a handmade roti wrap, filled with melted cheese, cashew and spiced rice, chicken curry, red onion sambol, and raita. Be sure to get the optional dipping gravy, which comes from the chicken curry pot.
On the snack side, it’s hard to go past the pan roll, especially if you’re a fan of Chiko Rolls. It’s a savoury deep fried roll filled with spiced vegetables and/or beef, with a chilli dipping sauce.
To drink, it’s fun takes on faluda and Sri Lankan-style iced Milo, along with coffee and juices. Before you leave, be sure to grab a baked treat for home, along with some Sri Lankan pantry items and ready-meals for home. The latter evolved out of Lankan Tucker’s lockdown offering, and has become a favourite with locals.
486 Albion Street
Thu – Fri: 7:30am to 2:00pm
Sat – Sun: 7:30am to 3:00pm