Colombo's restaurant scene is well-attuned to international tastes: Sri Lankan, Chinese, Italian, Thai... whichever cuisine you're craving, you're bound to find it somewhere in the city. Opt for a mouthwatering curry at the informal Curry Leaf Restaurant, share dim sum at hotel restaurant Long Feng or crack into a crustacean at seafood restaurant Minstry of Crab. For a snack on the go, dip into Colombo's Sri Lankan street food scene instead.
Picture a buzzing fish market, with fresh fare that you can select from. Then picture a work station with various chefs preparing the dish of your choice from the selected fare. If you can put all that together then you can understand the allure of the Lagoon at Cinnamon Grand. It is nothing but the freshest seafood that the restaurant offers it’s customers with the some 40 plus varieties of crabs, lobsters and fish on display. After weighing the selection you can select from the 30 different varieties of sauces and have the chefs prepare the dish in Thai, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Indian or Continental Style.
Yumi is a modern exposition of a sushi bar at Taj Samudra Hotel. As you step inside, the change in environment is overwhelming, with the sudden appearance of sleek polished tables and plush orange chairs around the opulent hallways and high ceiling, giving out the vibe of a very happening and upbeat city. Yumi is host to a flair bartender and DJ music in the evenings. The menu varies from hot and cold appetisers, to miso soup, sashimi, nigiri, temaki, teppanyaki, gohan (rice), entrees, desserts and Japanese teas.
Opened on the lobby floor of The Kingsbury Hotel, Yue Chuan is a contemporarily decorated restaurant concentrating on dishes from different regions of China. The menu is long but there are set meals that feature sample dishes at a fixed price so it’s easy to choose. There is a glass-walled kitchen where diners can see the cooks at work under the watchful eye of a Chinese chef. Service is sometimes as bland as the food and more suitable for a relaxed meal than a quick business lunch.
Long Feng is located beside the terrace overlooking the pool at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel. Guests have the option of dining on the terrace or in the air-conditioned restaurant with its contemporary Oriental décor. Long Feng is renowned in Colombo for its Singaporean cuisine with emphasis on seafood although traditional Chinese dishes and Dim Sum are available.
The Gallery Café, has been developed by local style arbiter, Shanth Fernando, from the old town office of Sri Lanka’s most renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Since opening in 1998, it has become THE place to see and be seen by the local cognoscenti and justly deserves its worldwide reputation as a fascinating place to wine and dine. The menu has not gone through any drastic changes since the Café’s opening as it seems to satisfy everyone with its variety of dishes, matching all purses. The menu includes grills and seafood and it has won many hearts with its delicious desserts especially the Jaggery-infused ones introducing local sweet flavour into western favourites. As well as its patio restaurant; Gallery Café includes an art gallery featuring exhibitions by local artists and an offshoot of the owner’s famous Paradise Road lifestyle and design store.
A restaurant renowned for serving up traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, the Curry Leaf boasts a wide array of seafood amongst other local favourites. If you’re thinking of hitting the Colombo town for a truly home grown feast, then rest assured to find what you’re looking for at this restaurant. The infamous kottu, rat-a-tat-tatting away in one corner, the roti isle in the other, hoppers plain or with a hearty egg, sunny-side up or however you like them, sitting at their soft centres, oil cakes or kavum crackling away as the sweets maker dips them deep into a wok of hot oil, spiced kadala or chick peas, waits steaming in a cart.
Following its opening in the restored old hospital building (now given over to restaurants and craft shops) in 2012, the restaurant rapidly became a trend setter and a favourite with both locals and tourists alike. Sri Lankan cricketing heroes, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara along with culinary maestro, Dharshan Munidase, decided to create Ministry of Crab as a celebration of Sri Lanka’s seafood, particularly of her wonderfully sweet and succulent crabs. The menu lists the different methods of preparation of crab, the range of sizes of the crabs, guidelines to the servings and finally, details of other meal options such as chicken, prawn and rice based dishes. Guests can sit at long shared tables with a view of the open kitchen, or outside on the veranda where the courtyard gets lively at night. It’s not hype to alert potential guests that reservations in advance are needed as the place is so popular. Only open in the evenings, except weekends when lunch is available too.
Asia flavours is all the rage in this restaurant where chefs prepare the dish of your choice right before you. Enjoy the action as they cook up fusion delights that combines the best of the East and the West. Perhaps one of the must try out things at Tao is the Epicurean Menu as you sit by either the pool or next to a pond.
Located by the swimming pool across Lotus Road from the Hilton (there’s a bridge from the hotel) but with its own entrance, Il Ponte presents a peaceful and breezy setup, with abundant seating options—booths for a more romantic dining mood and tables of all sizes for business lunches or family dinners. Il Ponte serves an array of Italian delicacies prepared right before your eyes, and you can take your pick from Italian specialties like homemade pasta and wood-oven baked pizzas. Meals with combinations of your choice of toppings and seasonings are prepared on request. Il Ponte also offers other savoury favourites such as lamb and lobster, in addition to its trademark Italian cuisine. On Fridays and Saturdays, the soothing tones of a local band playing jazz music complements the scenic view of the evening and helps create a captivating environment.
Colombo Courtyard, located by one of the busiest thoroughfares of Colombo, houses the Scarlet Room. Not surprisingly this a room painted deep red. Paintings of black and white grace the contrasting walls, alongside muted colours of the fine and modish table settings – definitely a topic of discussion for modern interior décor enthusiasts. In keeping with the diverse décor of the restaurant, the menu is diversified too with items from European cuisines, along with Mediterranean dishes and Asian flavours. The Scarlet Room exudes a creative and positive ambience to support its innovative dining options.
The 1864 Restaurant, an iconic piece of architecture and a part of the Galle Face Hotel, its historical features still in tact, has been created from an original part of the building that dates from 1864. It’s an atmosphere that lends itself to top notch dining and the menu includes local, continental and sea food favourites as well as desserts, fruit juices, mocktails and Interesting additions like sweet or salty lassi, an Indian traditional drink, Aperitifs, beer, spirits and wine are available and there is a spiral staircase leading down to the Wine Cellar sometimes used for private events, or for friends sharing bottles of wine The décor of 1864 relies on the original bare brick walls, ornately carved murals and soft lighting resulting in an unusual background to gourmet-style dining.
On the ground floor in the heart of the Arcade at Independence Square, Colombo 7, is Kaema Sutra. Translated this means The Art of Food. Opened only recently, the charm of Kaema Sutra is enthralling new patrons. The restaurant is an enterprise of the maestro chef behind Ministry of Crab, Darshan Munidasa and the Sri Lankan international film actress Jacqueline Fernandez. Kaema Sutra has a menu highlighting contemporary Sri Lankan dishes with a modern take on flavour. The décor is a combination of colonial artefacts, wooden furniture, and tradition incorporated into modern style. The Miris Gala, at the centre of the restaurant, is not just ornamental but used by the staff for the preparation of sambols.
Upali’s By Nawaloka, a local cuisine restaurant, was created by Upali Dharmadasa, at his father’s former residence. Here he has put together a dining experience that is enchanting, traditional and dedicated to the memory of his parents. At Upali’s, it’s a pleasant surprise to see meals being served on banana leaves alongside curries and side dishes in clay pots. Sitting on the veranda with the view of the biggest park around while enjoying the authenticity of the Sri Lankan cuisine, you’re taken into a different world, away from the hustle of ever-busy Colombo, to a more simpler, serene time.
The ambience at The Seafood Cove, Mount Lavinia Hotel, is extremely peaceful. With candlelit tables set beside the beach, guests feel happy in a breezy and scenic rustic island atmosphere. The Seafood Cove takes pride in serving freshly caught seafood from the Indian Ocean just steps away. The seafood is fresh, displayed on ice until cooked the way customers wish – whether grilled, sautéed, devilled, poached or fried. A live band playing soft music enhances the magic and charisma of the night while the waves gently wash the shore.