Taco Shack: Tacos, but make it Sri Lankan

Shihaan Salaam Vandort

Taco Shack has been around just over a week, having launched last Tuesday (15). It’s a brand new cloud kitchen featuring authentic and fusion tacos, bringing you not only a host of coveted flavours associated with the Mexican treat, but also the overall vibe associated with enjoying Mexican food. 

Speaking with owner and also Chef Shihaan Salaam Vandort, he shared that having spent his high school years in the US, Taco Tuesdays were a staple in his household, thanks to his mom’s love for Mexican food. He shared that the atmosphere when you enjoy Mexican food is quite similar to what we have here in Sri Lanka; the culture is communal, and a shared table of food surrounded by people you love is the feeling that you evoke. 

Shihaan said that what he has seen in Sri Lanka is that tacos, while not yet having achieved the same status as burgers, also remain as a rather exclusive item. Whether it is due to a lack of awareness or the general price point associated with the item, it hasn’t yet reached the masses. He said that he hopes to change this, stating that Mexican food and the culture is so very similar to what we practice here that there is no reason why we cannot seamlessly incorporate Mexican food into our Friday nights. Perhaps alongside fried rice and the burger, we could include the taco. 

Referring to the flavours available at Taco Shack, Shihaan shared that while many taco places have opted to create absolute authenticity in their products, he feels that this approach may alienate certain Lankan consumers, because to be perfectly frank – and we agree with him wholeheartedly on this – Lankans just like what they like, and if we detect a little bit of home in our food, we instantly fall in love, and so Taco Shack has introduced their fusion tacos, bringing you authentic Mexican food with a Sri Lankan twist. 

The Taco Shack menu reflects their ethos quite nicely with their battered prawn taco, lankan spicy beef taco, mango chicken taco, and the vege taco.

Shihaan, who is also preparing the tacos himself, shared that it has certainly been a learning process since day one, adding that he has made some significant changes to his prep and even ingredients since the launch, taking into consideration some customer recommendations as well.  

We tried out each of the menu items available at Taco Shack, and we have to say we were most pleasantly surprised, notably at how fresh everything was. This likely has to do with the extremely quick delivery time, which really allowed us to have the taco before the sauce soaked through the soft shell. Shihaan did address this matter, stating that they are looking into arranging for customers to have an option where they get their sauce on the side. 

As for our opinion on the food itself, Shihaan might be onto something with the fusion flavours, because our favorite was easily the Lankan spicy beef. Meanwhile, the battered prawn taco had so much crunch to it that if you’re looking for a light meal that is delicious, this one is ideal. As for the mango chicken, this one was probably the most outlandish tasting one for the Lankan palette with the mango salsa, but regardless, it was absolutely delightful, and the best part about all of this was that it came in lovely soft shells, none of that barbaric hard shell nonsense. We’re likely to anger a few of you, but, sorry, not sorry. For portion sizes, however, you’ll likely have to order about three of these single tacos for a whole meal. 

Shihaan commented that while the pandemic was the primary reason for opening a cloud kitchen, he hopes to soon initiate a physical restaurant where people can have an experience to enjoy not only tacos but a variety of Mexican food while also having a great time.