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Kolamba

Restaurants, Sri Lankan Soho
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
 (Photograph: Milo Brown)
1/9
Photograph: Milo Brown
 (Photograph: Kolamba)
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Photograph: Kolamba
 (Photograph: Milo Brown)
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Photograph: Milo Brown
 (Photograph: Milo Brown)
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Photograph: Milo Brown
 (Photograph: Kolamba)
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Photograph: Kolamba
 (Photograph: Kolamba)
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Photograph: Kolamba
 (Photograph: Milo Brown)
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Photograph: Milo Brown
 (Photograph: Jamie Lau)
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Photograph: Jamie Lau
 (Photograph: Milo Brown)
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Photograph: Milo Brown

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

A modern Sri Lankan restaurant in Soho.

By anyone’s standards, it’s pretty punchy for a South Asian restaurant to open next door to a Dishoom. ‘But Kolamba is Sri Lankan!’ I hear you all cry, which is totally different! Well yes, but not everyone is as enlightened as you: many will see both as fashionable spice houses, one and the same.

Truthfully though, Kolamba is a very different beast. Smaller and more sophisticated, this is not somewhere to come with a riotous gang of pals, but one carefully curated friend. Or a hot date.

From the kitchen, there were flashes of brilliance. Sri Lankan signatures were the strongest, like fish cutlets – aka spiced mini fishcakes with deep-fried coats – that were good enough to rival my dad’s (which are legendary). Also: the patties, aka fiery mini pasties, and the monkfish curry, its thin coconut sauce laced with tamarind, cloves and cinnamon (though take note: the fish was on the firm side, the way a home cook would make it, rather than a chef). Best of all: the creamy and comforting cucumber curry. You Must Get This. (At £5.90, it’s also a steal.) Hoppers were decent, string hoppers – that rarest of steamed delights – even better.

But there were slip-ups too, like over-salting the tomato sambol, or heavy-handedness with the jaggery (a dark, molasses-like concentrated sugar) in a beef curry (a pity, as the meat was beautifully tender).

But Kolamba is so atmospheric, so stylish – all concrete floors, stone tables and a mashup of oversized designer lampshades and sweet tea lights – it’s hard to believe this is a husband and wife’s first crack at running a restaurant. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Details

Address: 21 Kingly Street
London
W1B 5QA
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £95.
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