Two things make this small eatery stand out. Firstly, the impressive list of cheap eats and other awards stickers pasted to the front door. Secondly and more importantly, the line of office workers all the way out the door waiting for their tasty Sri Lankan style curries.
Set mainly below street level and unobtrusive, it would be easy to overlook Sheni's Curries. This would be a big mistake as Sheni's reinforces that sometimes the best things come in small packages.
It's mainly bain marie style food with a few daily specials. On the day that Ms Counting Her Calories and I visited these were the lamb biryani and hoppers. Served with chutney, raita, coconut sambal and a pappadum each, these did not look like much but proved to be some of the tastiest and cheapest curries I've had in town.
To be honest, the fish curry with hoppers didn't look impressive. I initially thought they'd given us the wrong dish, with the hoppers being completed buried under the rice. The fish came as one large piece, dark on the outside and dry looking. However, under its dark shell the fish turned out to be acceptably moist and the accompanying rice really nicely flavoured, spicy without being hot.
My lamb biryani looked the much nicer dish, with the coconut sambal and a small dash of chilli adding to its colourful presentation. Style wise, it's a little different to most biryani that I have had, with more focus on the lamb and less on the rice. Taste wise after finishing I wanted more, with tender lamb complemented by the spices and just a slight chilli kick.
If you're after tasty food with polite service and very good prices Sheni's is a very good option. You need to get there early, as it's fairly small and long discovered by those working nearby.
Food - 7.5
Service - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 8
161 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9654 3535