The Colombo City Centre, is Colombo's first, proper, mall. It's got a great layout, good architecture and is home to a range of shops (that already exist around Colombo). It's essentially an Abans/Softlogic hybrid plant.
Vishvi covered the mall in her review about a week ago. In this review, we focus solely on the CCC's food court: Food Studio.
Food Studio SL: The Ambience
The interior here boasts a variety of complex structural designs, with a funky colour scheme. There's a section with colourful tiles you can opt to sit at, and an interesting panel of wall-art that you can stare wistfully at while you wait for your food to be prepared.
Although it looks a bit empty here, it's bustling with people throughout the day. Lots and lots of teenagers roam about, and while it seems like the young crowd here is slowly dipping into the likes of Marino Mall and Majestic City, I'm pretty sure they'll get bored of the place eventually and find some other plaza to haunt. I hope.
They've paid great attention to detail here with the furniture and fittings etc, but the restaurants seem a bit scattered. The layout can get a bit confusing since there's a restaurant literally in every corner- thus prompting an irregular crowd flow. There are people anywhere and everywhere, so expect to brush past a few shoulders here and there.
The outdoor seating area is a definite highlight here. They've got ample seating for you and all your friends, so maybe snag a virgin cocktail and chit-chat away. The building overlooks the Beira lake for your viewing pleasure, and the emerging ziggurats of contemporary Colombo stand stoic and grey, if you're interested in looking at that sort of thing.
Personally I think it's a good spot to sketch at, if you manage to ignore the monotonous prattle from the various patrons around you.
The Restaurants, Food and Drink: A Short Overview
They've got a wide range of restaurants with McDonalds and Isle of Gelato being the only recognisable franchises. To directly quote Vishvi's piece, their other outlets include The Mango Tree, Sumatran Spice, Midah Sisters, Shiok, House of the Moon, Tokyo Shokudo, Simply Strawberries by Jagro, Grub, Punch Island Bar, The Little Prince, and Fresh Intentions.
The important thing to remember here is that they aren't really aiming for an ordinary, budget-friendly food court. This is more for those who can afford to spare 1000 bucks and upwards on one dish. This is a collection of restaurants after all, and high-end ones at that. Most of the folks here were chowing down on McDonald's despite the many other choices available at hand.
We decided to try out a dish each, from China Street Foods, Okra Kitchen, Grub, The Little Prince, and Punch Island Bar, respectively.
China Street Foods
The China Street Foods outlet, is located on the 2nd floor of the Food Studio. They have a small menu with just a few items, and their dumplings have successfully made appearances on various Instagram stories in the city.
The kitchen is manned by Chinese chefs who are constantly busy with stirring/straining noodles, stuffing dumplings and the like. If you'd like details on the dishes, they seem happy to help- but everything's pretty straightforward here.
We got a portion of the Chicken and Celery Dumplings. This costs Rs. 1000 and comes with 10 dumplings along with the usual chilli and soy sauces for dipping.
The dumplings are prepared well, and with a skilled hand. The dough is silky and the filling is plenty.
The chicken filling is tasty, with hints of garlic coming through. It's seasoned very well, and delivers a typical dumpling experience.
Grub is a Singaporean franchise that's taking root at the Food Studio as well. They specialise in burgers, but also offer pasta and pizza as yo can see in the photo above. They're still starting out so their stall looks a bit empty. But then again they're placed in a far corner, so perhaps not many people like sticking around in far corners.
We tried their Grilled Chicken Burger. This is a decently sized burger that clocks in at Rs. 800 and is served with a portion of fries.
The burger is comprised of a homemade brioche bun that holds together two large grilled chicken fillets, lettuce, and tomato slices along with some mayo and ketchup.
The bun was dense- not exactly what brioche is supposed to be and didn't quite amount to much where flavour contribution was concerned. The grilled chicken was exquisite though; juicy, tender with a light tinge of pink, the protein saves the dish once more.
The fries were average, salty and well..just fries.
Okra Kitchen is the outlet upstairs that serves Sri Lankan food. Their prices per dish off the a la carte menu are ridiculously expensive, so we opted for the buffet instead- at Rs. 750 per head.
I suppose the good thing about this place is that there are no holds barred to how much rice and curry you can serve yourself. The host there is super encouraging as well, so don't be shy!
The rice was freshly made, albeit slightly flavourless. The curries though- were great. They were all fresh, and had a distinctly homemade touch to them that we can't quite explain. The chicken curry present was fabulously spicy, too. I'd advise you to go home and have your mum's rice and curry, or Gami Gedara for a cheaper option- but if you're looking to spend Rs. 750 and enjoy the ambience here, then go for it.
The Little Prince
The Little Prince is the resident coffee-shop here. They've got a large variety of cakes and other patisseries in different colours of the rainbow. We got a basic Croissant (Rs. 250) and a Hot Chocolate (Rs. 550) to go with.
The Croissant was flaky, buttery and makes for a filling morning snack, if you're looking for one. There was a hair in it, to which the mall curators quickly responded- so things like that don't fly here. It's good to know they pay close attention.
The Hot Chocolate tasted exclusively of Cadbury Drinking Chocolate, and isn't quite rich enough to wow you, but honest enough to satisfy you- if satisfaction is what you're after.
Punch Island Bar
We were quite looking forward to a cocktail, but unfortunately, Punch Island only serves mocktails. I'm pretty sure this is because they're still waiting for their liquor license. If not, then that's a bummer.
That's not to say their mocktails aren't good. We tried their Strawberry Sangria (R. 650) out, and it was a surprisingly pleasant drink. However, I'm sure they use strawberry flavoured syrup, so if you really want a fruit juice you can head to Fresh Intentions (the juice bar at the Food Studio).
One thing I noticed about all the outlets is the fact that their staff doesn't quite know the details behind the dishes they serve. Save for the dumpling spot. They seem a bit dispersed, but I really think it's because they're busy. The whole place is crowded and working in a crowded restaurant is a task, so you can't really complain.
The nifty thing here is that certain places like Okra Kitchen and Grub give you this neat little gadget that buzzes when your food is done. So wherever you are, you'll know when your food is ready. The only downside is that it buzzes with great force and determination, so that's a small issue for anyone who doesn't want to be noticed in a crowd, or for someone who's on the run from something.
The Food Studio seems to be taking a promising step in delivering exciting new options for CMB's upscale dining market. They're trying, and they're on the right track. As expected of new establishments as such they're still testing the waters, so perhaps in a month or so they'll deliver on a fully-fledged gastronomic experience.
I say try it out, it's exciting to be a part of one of the city's biggest turning points. But keep your expectations neutral. Also split a plate of dumplings with a friend, if you must.