Gedera was somewhere I was really looking forward to trying. In particular I wanted to try the egg hoppers as I'd only ever had string hoppers before. It should have been exactly my sort of place, friendly, cheap and tasty but I was left a little disappointed.
The first thing I didn't much like is the way this place is lit. Gedera uses some weird purple and red tinged lighting, which to me isn't very inviting and made all the food look kind of dark and drab (and hard to photograph). It may be better during the day, but I think they should use more natural lighting at night.
The hoppers are small bowl shaped pancakes made from rice flour and served with a variety of curries. The problem wasn't with the hoppers but with the curries. My experience with Sri Lankan curries is that the spice factor can approach warp factor 10. These were tasty but not at all spicy. Also the lighting made what should have been a colourful dish look a little uninviting.
The Kottu Roti was closer to what I was expecting. This tasty dish is made from a combination of roti (bread), vegetables, egg and meat (in this case lamb) all chopped up and mixed thoroughly. I've been told by Sri Lankan work colleagues that this is real cheap street food, that you can hear being prepared in rural villages.
The last main course tried was the roti channai, with the lamb curry. This time I asked for the curry to be spiced up a bit and some chilli paste was provided on the side. While not particularly hot, it was an improvement on the curry served with the hoppers. The roti itself was a little different to what I was expecting, more like a flat bread than the stretchy/chewy roti I generally associate with this dish. I think the chewy version of roti is better at soaking up the sauces from the curry.
The Watalappam and pistachio kulfi both made reasonable desserts. The kulfi was fairly typical of what you find in Indian restaurants in Melbourne, a thick and heavy ice cream. The watalappam was something I hadn't tried before, a soft, sweet and moist style of cake.
The Mango Lassi was thick and sweet and very good.
In some ways it feels like I am being a little harsh, simply because I had such high expectations. The food is flavoursome and cheap, the staff friendly and the service fine. If you like your curries mild these will be perfect; if you like them with a bit of a zing ask for some additional chilli paste. I'll undoubtedly be back to try more dishes on the menu, especially the lamb briyani and the string hoppers. I'd strongly recommend a change to the lighting though.
Ambience - 4.5
Service - 7
Food - 6.5
17 Derby Road
East Caulfield VIC 3145
Tel: (03) 9572 5720