Starting out at YAMU I clamoured for a chance to review Colombo's fanciest restaurants but after a while you realize that our roadside buth kades actually have some of the best fare in town, not to mention value for money.
P.S. There are countless places that do a good everyman's-staple out there, many we haven't tried, so we can't vouch for the best ones. These are just our favourites. If you've got a favourite that we haven't covered, tell us about it in the comments section.
Ashik is a buth kade down Duplication Road in Bamba that we frequent. The rice and curry is affordable, ample in portion and consistently tasty. They don't hold back when serving you either so you'll probably end up getting more rice than you need. One thing that keeps us going back to Ashik is their chicken. It's not always prepared the same way so some days it'll be cooked kirata (milkier) and other times it'll be spicy with a thick curry. Either way they manage a good balance of flavours and seasoning, and is one of my personal faves.
Mythi's is a small street-side restaurant on Fife Road that offers one of the best black pork curries in Colombo, and a killer rice and curry. We won't exactly call Mythi's a buth kade because it's actually a pretty decent place to sit down. Their prices range from Rs. 200 - Rs. 300, which is higher than other rice and curry spots but these guys absolutely stuff the plate so it's well worth the money. We got the pork rice and curry (Rs. 280) with added chicken curry (Rs. 110) - they are very generous with the meats, and we are big fans of their spicy pork curry, parippu and gotukola malung. You can choose either white rice or red rice, with parippu, gotukola malung, jackfruit curry, papadam, dried chillies and a piece of karawala, which is a nice little addition that other places rarely offer.
Buth Amma's is actually somebody's own house, and this little underrated rice and curry haunt has been run by the same family for 66 years. It's a buffet - they serve rice, and the options of parippu, chicken curry, devilled chicken, fish curry, fried fish, cuttlefish and it goes on. A basic rice and curry would cost you Rs. 200 and at most you could only spend Rs. 400 here. The food comes in an epic portion, the rice just smothered in curries, enough for two people or one very famished burly man. It's very tasty - soft, well cooked meat, great parippu and seasoning, very spicy. It's as authentic as Sri Lankan food gets.
is a higher-end restaurant compared to the rest of the rice and curry
places on our list, but they still do a very affordable one, and rice
and curry is all they do, so we though they deserved a spot. They offer
typical rice and curry (chicken, fish, egg or veg), yellow rice, fried
rice and chicken biriyani. We got the chicken rice, for Rs. 170, and it
was so good. It included some superb parippu, manioc, gotukola, an
interesting sweet achcharu, and a big, spicy, very well-seasoned piece
of chicken. Total value for money.
is a classic Sri Lankan lunch buffet. This one is extra nice because A)
everything is served in clay pots B) there are three different types of
rice C) you can serve yourself the papadum and dried chili endlessly.
They also have cutlets, manioc and some roti on hand, plus lunudehi
(lime pickle) on the table. The curries we tried were all tasty and
generous - a nice chicken, fresh gotukola, creamy parippu, crunchy beans
and sour ambarella curry. Also if you're vegetarian or pescetarian,
you've got plenty of choice here.
Praneetha is an extremely popular little hole-in-the-wall opposite the Beira Lake, that serves up rice and curry with the option of almost every kind of meat, from pork to prawns, laid out in rows of clay pots. Our plate of rice, chicken, prawns and cuttlefish cost around Rs. 400 - an ordinary rice and curry here is about Rs. 130. This was one superb rice and curry, one of the best I've had - it included parippu, beans, gotukola, some tomato, and nice big portions of chicken, cuttlefish and plenty of juicy prawns. Extremely generous, and wonderfully spicy and flavoursome.
Mithuro Cafe is a really good one down Duplication Road. Besides rice and curry they also serve a whole bunch of very peppery, spicy short eats, and kottu in the evenings. The rice and curry here is totally worth it. We got the chicken packet and it comes with plenty of papadam, parippu, manioc, gotukola sambol and dry chillies. The chicken curry and parippu were especially good and I walloped the this big portion to my own surprise.
As far as street food and kades in Colombo go, the Yarl Eat House is one of the best. The basic Yarl meal (for lunch) is rice on a banana leaf with three veg sides that they ladle onto your plate - usually purippu, a sort of sambar and something else. On top of this they also give you a metal bowl with your choice of meat sides. The general options are chicken, mutton, prawn, cuttlefish and crab. Half a fish is included without asking. The chicken is a bit bony and unrewarding in our experience, but the other sides are excellent. Yarl is especially famous for its crab which is generous, though it brings your price of meal up a bit.
We have gushed about the crab at Mayura Hotel, and it remains my favourite place in the city for the stuff. But the rice and curry in this little Pettah street-side stopover is also very, very good - while a crab rice and curry would cost you Rs. 390 - for Rs. 170, you get fresher than average rice, splayed out on a banana leaf with lovely parippu, a few veggie sides and an omelette. Like Yarl, if you're not going vegetarian your banana leaf comes accompanied with a metal plate of your chosen meats. Judging by the mutton and crab here, the meats are superb, and is some of the best value for money in town.
We tasted every locally brewed and available beer. In the name of science!
Hana Mart, while small, sells a good selection of fun Korean food. Shrimp crackers, ramen, kimchi, biscuits and so on.
Countries that let you in without a fuss with your Lankan passport
Oh Donuts is a food truck that's all about doughnuts.
5 biriyanis, one ultimate champion - who'd that be?