With a minimal aesthetic and a focus on local, organic and seasonal produce, Cafe Kumbuk serves up some quality food at a beautiful location. Tucked inside Horton Place, they share a space with Prana Lounge in an old colonial home. It's a great place to go unwind, read a book, sip on a smoothie and while away the hours. They've got tea, coffee, and some of the best juices you'll find in Colombo. They've also got a seasonal menu sampling from Asian and European cuisines.
The menu isn't too extensive at Kumbuk, but there's good variety on offer. We like that they don't confine themselves to any particular cuisine, and that doesn't mean they're into fusion, either. They just do a few dishes, sampling from different cuisines, making use of local produce. The results are quite good.
I had the vegan option which was Sweet Potato, Chick Pea And Pumpkin Curry with Naan (Rs 650) and it was quite filling, easily feeding two. If you're not vegan, they'll add curd to top off the curry and butter to the naan. There's a lot of flavour going on, and the paprika brings in just enough heat, with the curd giving it a nice, tart kick. I brought some back to the office and Bhagya found it to be really flavourful.
We checked out the specials board, which listed Vietnamese Sea Bass (Rs 900). It was also recommended by the staff, and we're glad we went with it. What's important to note about the fare at Kumbuk is that they're all about healthy living, so that means it's not overly seasoned. The palate that they cater to is quite subtle. For example, with the sea bass, it's not masked with washes of oil that would otherwise make for a tasty dish. Instead, what you taste is the freshness of the fish, which is a treat in itself.
The rice was just lightly peppered and could have been softer. The purple cabbage was pretty on the plate. We enjoyed the mango salsa that came with as it wasn't too tart or sweet. The cilantro brought together the flavours really well. It's a simple touch, but it worked.
I had the Island Chiller (Rs 300) which is pretty much a watermelon juice with thambili. It's garnished with some rosemary and looks lovely. Hands down, this is the best watermelon juice I've had. The coconut water really rounds out the flavour, adding a delicate sweetness to it that's quite tasteful.
The Kumbuk Colada (Rs 420) is a pretty distinct smoothie. Using coconut milk and coconut water as well as desiccated coconut, the smoothie also includes strawberries and pineapple. I didn't get much of the strawberry, but the pineapple and coconut water worked well together. You get a creaminess that isn't too overwhelming, and a coconut aftertaste. It's not too sweet either.
Ambiance & Service
Without doing much, Kumbuk has done a lot to make the space their own. We've been to this space before when it hosted a musical event, and the vibe is just completely different. There's a lot of natural light coming in and plenty of ventilation thanks to the high ceilings. If you dislike air conditioning but you still want a cool environment, this is the place for you.
We found the place to be quite chilled out, even though it was packed when we got there. The ambience meant we didn't mind the wait as our food was being prepared.
The staff at Kumbuk are quite accommodating. Everyone's friendly and you feel quite welcome. You have to place your order at the counter, and then they'll bring your order out to your table.
Kumbuk promises a seasonal menu that ought to keep us coming back for more. It's got a distinct and charming character that you could easily warm up to, and we're actually quite impressed to find out that this is the realization of its owner's university project. You can tell that there's thought put into each detail. The prices are quite reasonable and you can dine for around Rs 1200 per head. For the location, fare and care that is taken, we think it's fair.