Marino Mall.

The Marino Mall is a giant new building that stretches all the way from Galle Road to Marine Drive (surprise!). It’s a massive, 12-storeyed, steely grey monolith that I’ve passed by a thousand times but never noticed. In addition to being a mall, the Marino is also a hotel – all of it built by the Damro group at a cost of 12.5 billion rupees.

The First Four Floors

Upon entering, you’re faced with a lot of bare space and a long corridor lined with (ladies) clothing shops, toy shops, a physics-bending 9D VR gaming centre and a food court. The ground floor is lined with boutiques like Embark, Waves and even a Samsung showroom. 

The second floor is just one massive clothing store which’ll leave you spoilt for choice if you’re looking at casual/office wear. The gents’ section seems to have a decent range as well. The floor stretches on and on much like a cleaner version of Uptown Kandy. There’s also a home decor section if you’re looking for a carpet or a novelty cookery set.

The third, fourth and fifth floors are Damro showrooms. Living room furniture, bedroom furniture, dining room furniture, office furniture, cupboards, you know the drill. Comme si comme ça. 

The 9D gaming space is full of giant thingamabobs operated by licensed professionals who’ll guide you in case you don’t have the stomach for a bit of VR action. Tons of contraptions cater to eager kids and grownups, although everyone on the roller-coaster machine thing looked a bit bored. They’re still in the process of being finished so I’m eager to go back and give all those machines a whirl. 

The Food Emporium

On to the main event. The Food Emporium- not food court, mind you – is a rather lavishly furnished area with a range of restaurants.

From Middle-Eastern to Indian they’ve got your preferences covered. Sort of. We decided to try one thing from each restaurant. 

The Chicken Burger (Rs. 500 ) from Western Bay was rather disheartening. Sandwiched in between a grocery-store burger bun was a bland chicken patty, a fried egg, a slice of rubbery cheese, sliced cucumber and tomatoes along with some lettuce.

All these ingredients should yield a classic burger, but somehow the recipe they’ve used makes it taste like a school canteen ‘bun’. The thick cut fries showed a lot of promise but alas- they were quite soggy (re-fry for optimum crunch!).

From Cafe On Ocean we got a generously sized Chicken Puff and a Fruit Danish. The Chicken Puff has a light, flakey shell but absolutely no chicken. Just a lot of potato in true Sri Lankan style.

The danish was delightful and comes with a dollop of custard garnished with sliced dragonfruit, kiwi, strawberry and grape. It wasn’t overly sweet and the combo of tart fruit slices did a great job of balancing out that custard. Yum!
We also got an Iced Latte which was watery and flavourless. Let’s move on.

From Middle Eastern (not sure if it’s a category or the actual name of the store) we got a portion of the Beef Kebab (Rs. 650). This came with three kebabs, a side salad and two slices of sauced and spiced pita. I liked this dish, the beef was juicy, medium rare and paired with that tangy side salad, it made for a flavourful and delicious meal. 

There’s also a restaurant called Far Eastern (again, not sure if category or name) that specialises in Vietnamese, Mongolian and other such cuisines. We opted for the Beef Pho (Rs. 300). The dish took the longest to arrive which was a bit puzzling on account of its tiny serving size.

It also wasn’t especially authentic Beef Pho – it came with thick soup, rice vermicelli and a few slices of almost-raw beef. It smelled atrocious. Like gym socks and a room full of feet. I tried the noodles and was forced to swallow them down to prevent anything coming up. Vishvi took a sip and said nothing but looked like she was in pain. Oh well. 

The Dish Du Jour is the Dum Biriyani (Rs. 400) from Bharat Bojun which wasn’t 100% authentic but surprisingly brilliant. We loved it. The rice was spiced, fragrant and contained chunks of slightly dry, delicious chicken. There were caramelised onions in there too, along with a boiled egg. A side of raita and chicken gravy was served in two tiny bowls, for additional flavour. 

Conclusion

Although the place is a bit empty at the moment, they literally JUST opened so we can’t be too negative. This is just a first look and so we have no doubt they’ll be up and running full force mid-August or so. 

Colombo is rapidly morphing into an urban jungle, reminiscent of Singapore’s bustling metropolises and the Marino Mall is a notable addition. Here’s to a new world, in nine dimensions. 

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