Culture Colombo offers a completely down-to-earth dining experience to the un-Lankans and Lankans alike. It's a semi-fine dining restaurant that carries a no-nonsense, no-frills, no unnecessary gourmet-ized menu that gives its patrons an honest and fully comprehensive look into Sri Lankan cuisine.
The beauty of this place is that you don't really have to be new to Sri Lanka and its mad food culture. If you'd like to take a day off from a family prepared meal and are still interested in some good idiyappam or aappa, this is your spot.
That's the best part- the food tastes 100% homemade.
Their Lime and Mint Soda (Rs. 350) is more juice than soda. That means there's a minimal amount of fizz, and you'll get a bit of texture from the blended mint leaves. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just a healthier alternative.
The drink is tart, refreshing and highly addictive.
Now if you get the Tasting Basket, it is served with a complimentary bottle of Homemade Ginger Beer. The drink comes served with a small slice of lime and looks highly enticing. However, it tasted surprisingly bland- but that's possibly due to all my tastebuds getting fried off their bases thanks to Black Cat's impossible Ginger Beer.
Anyways, this is a refreshing option. It's not terribly strong, it's a nice refresher for when you'd like to clear your palate out for the next bite.
Ah Curd and Kithul. An honest contribution from the island to the world's dessert menu, but to some: the pinnacle of refreshment and indulgence.
The curd here was incredibly luxe with its creamy texture and refreshingly tart aftertaste. The kithul is administered at your own personal preference, although I suggest a light swill to better enhance this stark counter between flavours. A portion is Rs. 150.
This is the best version of Lankan Fruit Salad you'll ever have. A portion of Culture Colombo's Fruit Salad costs Rs. 300. It's a large bowl full of all the fresh and seasonal fruits our wonderful and tropical island has to offer.
The fruit is exceedingly fresh. It could have come off the tree or whatever, just a few hours prior. Sweet, karuthakolamban mangoes headline the whole affair, undercutting the muted and chunky textural display from the guava. Pineapple and watermelon work together to produce a tangy, yet juicy element. The papaya and banana add a nice, mushy counter to the dish's otherwise crisp mouthfeel.
Perhaps a lot of katha for a mere salad bowl, no? But this one's the dignified, all-rounder in comparison with its saivar-kadey fruit cup salads.
Now I'm not a fan of this personally, but a lot of YAMU folks go bonkers for Caramel Pudding. We found this to be of good texture and colouring. The sweet flavour was just right and balanced well throughout, so you don't feel like you're biting into a sugar-soaked sponge. Costs Rs. 400.
Their mains feature a lot of proper Lankan dishes like curry pots with sides of roast paang, and rice and curries of the like. While we highly recommend you to go ahead and get a curry in a clay pot with some rice or paan, this review takes a close look at Culture Colombo's Tasting Basket.
But before we get to that, we got a single Stuffed Capsicum for Rs. 150. The stuffing features potato as its dominant element, but notes of onion and chili come through as well.
I only had a single bite, since this is the perfect trigger to my IBS. But I can say that the crumb coat was crispy, and bears the unmistakeably oily signature that is indicative of good local food. As for the potato stuffing, it was creamy and flavourful.
Right, here's the Star of the Show. Our waiter recommended we try this. This is pretty much the entirety of Culture Colombo neatly decked out on a ginormous kulla.
What makes this a good purchase is that it costs Rs. 2400 and will feed four people. I kid you not, my first thought when I saw this was immediate regret because y'all can see how many desserts I went ahead and picked, no?
The Tasting Basket features two egg rotis, two egg hoppers, two plain hoppers, half a white rice flour pittu, half a red pittu, red and white string hoppers (6 each), two cups of kotthu, chicken curry, fish curry, pol sambol, katta sambol, seeni sambol, and kiri hodhi. PHEW. That is a LOT OF FOOD. Still, it's a lot less than what you'll find on the table at a family gathering, ha!
Anyways, each and every item here was fantastic. The egg hoppers featured a bull's-eye each with runny yolk. The chicken and fish curries were delicious. The kotthu was also great, but the rest of the carbs here pretty much overshadowed it. I'll put it this way, it's like a far more tasty and refined version of the same foods you'll get at any saivar kadey.
We also got a Lamprais, but it wasn't as great. Perhaps the only downside to the entire experience. The rice was steaming hot and made fresh, but it lacked any seasoning whatsoever. Most of its flavour had to be derived from the extremely spicy chicken. The rest of its elements like the frikkadelos and ash plantain curry just faded into obscurity.
Stick with the Basket, or opt for a Curry + Prawn combo.
Service & Ambience
Service here is extremely well maintained. The waitstaff knows the menu inside-out so if you find yourself to be indecisive at that time, just ask and they shall list out the specials.
We were regularly checked on, and the entire process went smoothly. Food was brought out a tad late, about 15 minutes or so after the order was placed.
The restaurant is a beautifully converted, old bungalow. It's got some stellar architectural designs like the fence at the front, along with nostalgic decor artfully placed about.
The best part about this place is their honest, very real take on Sri Lankan food fare. They skip out on the unnecessary posh twists for classic Lankan favourites, thereby offering up a very real semblance of what the every day Sri Lankan eats.
Definitely a good spot to take your foreign friends to, or just to enjoy a good Jaffna Crab curry + roast paan.