Chopsticks is a down to earth joint in Nawala serving a vast menu of cheerfully Sri Lankanised Chinese food. Fried rice, devilled chicken, black bean pork and so on – the Sino-Lankan side of the menu is huge, and most of what we devoured was incredibly satisfying – good stock-infused pearls of white rice strewn with colourful strands of carrot and leek, and spicy, tender hunks of chilli chicken topped with smatterings of cashew. This is a great example of that wonderful genre of food that Sri Lanka has come to own: Sri Lankan Chinese – a complete spin off on Chinese cuisine that has melded its influences with the affinities of the local palate to take on a distinct and delicious flavour of its own.
And Chopsticks does the genre justice – their food is simple, honest and good. Despite the sheer number of plates cruising the Sri Lankan-Chinese wave, it can still be surprisingly difficult to get your hands on a decent fried rice (Rs. 280) and chilli chicken (Rs. 400), but Chopsticks delivers.
However, there’s a section on the menu called ‘international favourites’ that we’d advise steering well clear of. While the standard rice and chilli paste fare is excellent, the pork knuckle (Rs. 850) – as appealing as it sounds – is somewhat dubious. The accompanying fries are delicious (they taste like Pringles), but the teetering pile of sticky pork-chunks is, well, not great. As exciting as the cordon bleu or schnitzel may sound, just don’t do it.
Chopsticks is also a bar. While the downstairs area is intended for sit-down dining, the upstairs is a dimly lit drinking spot – high stools, a TV tuned to Star World and the icy blast of A/C. It’s like White Horse before it scrubbed up. A large placard outside promises karaoke, but there’s no discernible sign of any kind of musical paraphernalia present.
If you happen to be in Nawala, or reside in the lowly ‘burbs of Nugegoda or Dehiwala, Chopsticks is a fine place for a meal and drink. While the drinks aren’t super cheap (big Lion – Rs. 250), the place has the delightful air of the mildly dodgy. And the food is great.