Copper Chimney.

In the never ending quest to find the perfect fried rice, I was surprised to learn I’d been kept in the dark about one of Colombo’s best known bath joints: Copper Chimney, a little restaurant (?) on Marine Drive serving just one thing: fried rice.

To any sensible Sri Lankan the mere discovery of good fried rice should be a cause of great joy, but a shop dedicating every single drop of its oil, sweat and ajinomoto to the mixed up manna? Well, we were excited to say the least.

Copper Chimney is an open plan sort of space, embracing the dusty sea vapours of Marine Drive. You stand on the road and watch as the rice is tossed up in a behemoth of a wok by the arms of a tiny little man, and if you peer a into the kitchen you can see the mounds of rice piled into large sawans, waiting to be eaten. It’s a marvel to imagine that much can be consumed within the space of a couple of hours, but it can. That and more.

Copper Chimney falls into that fuzzy space of being neither a restaurant nor a kade. While you can sort of eat in – ie. perch on the stoop with a plastic plate over your knees – it’s probably better to wander over to the beach or, well, take your food back to the comfort of your home.

The sheer line of hungry customers decorating the shop’s front seems testament to its excellence, so it was with the highest hopes we hurried home with our little white boxes. But is this 130 rupee wonder really as good as everyone says it is? Kind of. The Copper Chimney rice is decidedly good and we can safely say it’s a solid player in the island’s rice rivalries. Is it amazing, however? Not quite.

You get a good serving of rice, generously strewn with veggies and egg, a piece of chicken and a decent (if slightly sweet) chilli paste. All of this is tasty and good, but I felt there was a little oomph missing (ie. MSG). That being said, this is a solid rice and you really won’t go wrong. Just be prepared to work on your tan for a bit while you wait in line to be served.

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