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  • Restaurants
  • Borough
  • price 3 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Rambutan (Carol Sachs)
    Carol Sachs
  2. Rambutan (Carol Sachs)
    Carol Sachs
  3. Cynthia Shanmugalingam (Carol Sachs)
    Carol Sachs
  4. Rambutan (Carol Sachs)
    Carol Sachs

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s debut restaurant is a Sri Lankan gem, situated right by Borough Market

Next to the never knowingly chill Borough Market, you’ll find the equally hectic Stoney Street, a de facto restaurant ‘strip’ that’s equivalent to Dalston’s boozy run of bars in terms of relentless popularity and a terrifyingly high chance of bumping into someone you ghosted pre-pandemic. For those whose brains aren't stuffed with the entirety of Google Maps, we shall remind you of its many delights. There’s the heroic cheese puffs and pizza of Elliot’s, culty Taiwanese buns at Bao, party-time tacos and tequila at El Pastor, raclette and gooey toasties at Kappacasein, chic caffeine top-ups at Monmouth Coffee, and now, in the old Konditor & Cook building, Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s debut restaurant, Rambutan. 

Sticky chicken pongal rice was majestically creamy, humming with a decadent blend of saffron, coconut milk, poppy seeds and cinnamon.

While Soho has become something of a hub for Sri Lankan food thanks to the holy Hoppers, Paradise and Kolamba triumvirate, it remains a cuisine without nearly enough mainstream visibility in central London. Shanmugalingam, who has run pop-ups and street food stalls for a decade, and last year published the acclaimed and highly personal Rambutan cookbook, wants to change all that. She’s the first Tamil woman to open a restaurant in the city, and her menu draws from what her mother cooked during Shanmugalingam’s 1980s childhood in Coventry as well as trips to the family village in Jaffna province, where pandan grows next to lemongrass and curry leaves. 

Using a global grab-bag of ingredients, as well as Tamil mainstays, this diasporic, open-kitchen cooking gives Stoney Street its first proper slice of post-colonial South Asian flavour. In the airy, high-ceilinged room with its rattan backed chairs, putty pink plaster walls and artfully placed palms and yuccas, we started with playful, must-order Gundu dosa dumplings and Jaffna lamb ribs, which though a touch chewy, were addictively spiced. Heat however isn’t something to be concerned about at Rambutan. Though our server asked in a slightly concerned fashion if we were handling the spice alright, Shanmugalingam’s approach is more about creating waves of flavour than searing your taste buds into oblivion. Sticky chicken pongal rice was majestically creamy, humming with a decadent blend of saffron, coconut milk, poppy seeds and cinnamon, while red northern prawn curry with tamarind offered a sweet glorious heat. The only issue was its diminutive size coupled with a £16.40 price tag. 

While a few dishes might need a bit of a boost – coconut and lemongrass dal was smooth as silk but lacked punch – Rambutan is a truly welcome addition to the neighbourhood. 

The vibe Borough Market’s latest opening, so expect crowds and queues, but most of all, enticing food.

The food Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s homely Sri Lankan cooking, with lots of lovely veg, curries and dals cooked over an open kitchen  

The drink A few whites, a few reds and a small but intriguing cocktail list, featuring the likes of a Banana Negroni.

Time Out tip Those charming Gundu dosas aren’t just insta-perfect, they’re the ideal entry point to Shanmugalingam’s menu, which is infused with a big, giddy love for Sri Lanka and its food.  

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


10 Stoney Street
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