Beach towns in Sri Lanka come with all shapes and sizes. Great food that contains a massive spread of seafood, good booze, glorious sunsets, happening vibes and plenty of beautiful resorts to choose from - the elements that make for a town like that is pretty much similar.
Often referred as the "little Rome", mainly because of the strong Catholic influence it has, Negombo is one of the first names that pops into our heads when we talk about a beach town in Sri Lanka. Aside from the above elements, this city also has a lagoon that comes with nice boat rides, a fish market, and a giant dried fish market.
Negombo is still recovering from the wounds of the tragic events that occurred during Easter Sunday this year. They're taking baby steps to bring back Negombo to its former glory, and the first move towards that would be the Negombo Beach Food Festival.
Organised by the Negombo Tourists Association, Negombo Beach Food Festival kicked off yesterday (24th of August) and happening today (25th of August) as well. It's a nighttime festival that starts at 6.00pm and goes until 10.00pm, by the beach that runs along with the Porutota Road. Keep Grand Oceanpark as your landmark, and you will find a small lane right next to it, which would take you to the food festival.
The parking is available at the premises, but you can also park down the available slots on the inner lanes of the Portutota Road as well.
The event features 30 food vendors, who whip up their specialities - from a variety of seafood (lobster, prawns, crab, and other fish), meats (chicken, beef, pork), desserts, veg-friendly dishes and drinks - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Most of these stalls are done by restaurants in and out of Negombo, while the others are home-based, independent ventures.
Just a heads up, long lines can be observed in front of most restaurants, and in terms of pricing, they have dishes starting from Rs. 300.
They have a massive seating space aligned with plastic tables, stools and chairs, easily capable of handling a crowd of 500 people, at least. If you don't mind, you can also sit on the beach and enjoy some views of the sea while you eat.
The Lobster Set Menu (Rs. 700) we got from King Coconut Restaurant's stall arrived with the sides of pasta, boiled potato and garlic bread. Here they have featured their spread of seafood in wewal baskets, and you can pick the fish you want and get the staff to cook it for you. Cooked in butter, our lobster had a good amount of meat and was absolutely delicious. To kick it up a notch, they had sprinkled some pepper on it.
One 33 One is the stall done by Avenra Garden Hotel. Their Spicy Batter Prawns (Rs. 1000) is one of the best takes on battered-anything we've seen. Encased in an absolutely thin layer of slightly spicy batter that gives off the most satisfactory crisp, these large prawns were properly deshelled and yet fleshy as it can get. Each portion has 10 of them. A bit spicy option, really, but tastes great, nonetheless.
We were quite glad and surprised to find Sugarcube's presence at the event. Taking a step forward from the regular vadei (Rs. 390), they make a Chicken Vadei, which is a must-try. In here, they had infused the regular vadei batter with minced chicken and bits of kochchi. It's a spicy, chickeny treat, and make good use of their in-house kochchi sambol for the extra flavour.
Lemony, minty with the hints of masala, the Masala Lemonade (Rs. 200) is a refreshing drink that you can pair with this.
Plus, if you happen to drop by this event today, you're in luck as they're bringing the best cheesecake in town.
Goldi Sands stall had a whole bunch of kottu and rice-centred specialities and we opted for the Fried Rice (Rs. 350) with Pepper Pork (Rs. 500). The highlight here was the latter. Wrapped in a chockfull of pepper, the meat was cooked right, and there was only a couple of oily bits. This one would go really nice with a mugful of chilled beer.
Fluffy and lightly seasoned with bits of egg and pepper, the rice tasted alright.
Our last stop was the stall by Rodeo Pub & Restaurant. The Chicken Wings meal (Rs. 600) is a portion of three wings stuck to a skewer with grilled roast paan and potato on the side. It didn't disappoint, but some smokiness in the chicken would have been better.
Freshly made delicious food and drinks, good music and entertainment, sand between your toes, and quite a bit of sea breeze, all under the shimmering stars of Negombo skyline - what more do you want? Happening Sundays are not very common but you can make it so. Be spontaneous, hop on a vehicle and make your way to Negombo today for the Beach Food Festival.
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