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Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, a title it has held for more than 2,000 years, back to when it was critical along trade routes from China to Southern Europe. Over the centuries it has passed through Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists, however, the food remains distinctly Asian, with influences from India, Pakistan, Thailand, and Japan. With delicious curries, vegetarian dishes and spices that will blow your socks off, we’ve rounded up the top 6 restaurants in Colombo:
1. Ministry of Crab
As its name suggests, the Ministry of Crab serves up…crab! On the menu is crab cooked in every possible way, from steamed crab to buttered crab and garlic infused crab — you name it, they have it. If you’re really hungry you can order as much crab as you want and pay by the kilo. They also have other seafood options on the menu, including prawns and seafood rice. The restaurant is set in a former Dutch hospital from the colonial era that has been stylishly kitted out.
South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines have many similarities as there is a greater focus on vegetarian cooking and they both use similar spices and creamy sauces. Chutney in Colombo has dishes from the four main states in Southern India, which are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It’s got a great vegetarian menu that even die-hard meat eaters go wild for. However, they also cater to meat eaters with dishes such as chicken biryani and seafood dishes. Order a thali, which gives you a little taster of a variety of dishes.
3. Nuga Gama at Cinnamon Grand
Nuga Gama is a great place to head to experience traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. The menu includes dishes such as fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), parippu (dhal curry), and hoppers, which are the Sri Lankan version of pancakes that can be eaten with sweet or savory toppings. Don’t forget to order a side of Pol Sambol (coconut relish). Nuga Gama offers an outdoor dining experience that is set under a large 200-year old Banyan tree and has a great atmosphere.
4. Barefoot Garden Cafe
Barefoot Garden Cafe is a great place for a light lunch and a break from the Sri Lankan sun. It’s set in a tree-lined courtyard and draws in a cool, traveler crowd. It serves up delicious quiches, falafel platters, sandwiches, and wraps. They also have a good wine menu, which can be hard to find in Sri Lanka, so make the most of it.
5. Ikoi Tei
For your sushi fix head to Ikoi Tei. It offers authentic Japanese cuisine, including teriyaki chicken, fresh sushi platters, noodles and tempura dishes. It’s also set in the former Dutch Hospital that has been renovated and it draws a hipster crowd.
6. Beach Wadiya
Beach Wadiya is one of Colombo’s top seafood joints. It’s located on the beach and offers enormous seafood plates, alongside smaller dishes. The restaurant features a rustic interior, with a roof built from coconut palms. It can get really busy on the weekend, so book a table in advance.