plaza damansara

Interview with Sangeethan Sivagnanam, A Li Yaa

 What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
Going back to 2005, I realized there was a highly lucrative industry that I wanted to be a part of. In pursuit of this dream, I left Sri Lanka for Singapore and joined the Asian Educational Consortium (AEC) Business School, where I spent the next three years working towards my higher diploma in Hospitality Management.
Having gained the necessary skills I needed, I knew I wanted to continue my journey in the hospitality industry, but also wanted to do something close to home. Marrying the two ideals, I sourced out Sri Lankan restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore and came across A LIY AA. My six month internship started in 2008 and through hard work and a committed attitude to providing genuine delectable Sri Lankan cuisine, I earned my way into a managerial position.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job? 
The best part about my job has to be hosting my customers. Watching them enjoy the food put in front of them and then hearing them wax lyrical about the flavours is always a joy. I don’t think there is a worst part of my job. It has its challenges. The long hours on some nights may be hard but still enjoyable. I think maybe the hardest part about managing a restaurant is finding the right people to create an experience to remember for our customers.
What’s your personal favourite meal/ drink at A Li Yaa?
My personal favourite is the string hopper kuttu. It just reminds me of home and of comfort food that my mom would cook for us as children.
The perfect day would be… when all our customers go home with a full tummy and a smile on their face.
A day in the life of a restaurant manager is… waking up, checking my email, checking updates on the internet for A LI YAA, getting to the restaurant, checking on my staff, checking on the fresh produce, checking on my customers, checking cash flow, checking on reservations, checking checking checking…
What do you do for fun? 
My work is fun so I work for fun 😉
What’s something you’d like guests to know about  A Li Yaa?
A LI YAA now also has an outlet in Ipoh!
What’s your view on the KL food scene?
KL’s food scene is amazing. The competition to offer the best in everything, from the kind of fresh produce, to dishes, to plating to hosting is overwhelming. Every possible kind of restaurant/cuisine is available in KL and it is just out of this world to see the kind of dishes that are whipped up in each kitchen.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
We look forward to bringing in famous Chefs from Sri Lanka to A LI YAA here in Damansara as well as Ipoh to excite our customers with a change of menu and style every now and then.


  1. Great interview with the chef.
    Looks a rather small establishment from the front.
    I got a grin on my "kisser" when I read about the "String
    Hopper Kutta" – I think I was envisaging something on the
    risque side of what happens in kitchens. A bit of the "Oooh la la"
    antics to the tune of "The Stripper".

    Are you avoiding grinning "Poms"??
    I am until this "Cricket debacle" is well and truly over.
    I suspect that the so-called Aussie team will be coming
    back in dribs and drabs at outback airports – ha ha.
    Colin of Cordobes and the Sunshine Coast (certainly not of
    English cricket pitches!!!)
    PS: Day 8 and the weather remains perfect – well under the sporting
    circumstances something has to cheer us, Aussies, up.

  2. I really enjoyed this interview with the manager. Looking at the name and not seeing any photos I will assume it is a male, because the name and no photos give me no indication. I like his attitude overall and he is obviously very passionate about his job and very devoted to his customers, and this really impresses me, as good old fashioned customer service isn't what it used to be, sadly. Thank you so much for sharing this and I saw the photos and dishes in the link you provided…wow! 🙂

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