Navratna is one of the few places in the city that offers a great, authentic Indian dining experience. It’s in the lobby of the Taj Samudra hotel, the service during our visit was spot on, and we felt the food was good value for money.
The Food & Service
Dishes here are typically in the Rs. 1000 – 1500 range, with some of the plates going up to even Rs. 2000+. So the damage really depends on the choices you make. We got some murg tikka chicken biriyani, a bowl of mutton mirchi, and naan, which put together was easily enough for three people – and the bill came to about Rs. 4000. Considering the quality of the food and the fact that the restaurant is also fine-dining-friendly, this wasn’t bad at all.
The chicken biriyani, a special, was a total win. The basmati rice wasn’t too oily, with just the right subtle mix of Indian masalas, giving off a pleasant fragrance of the chicken marinated in saffron and yoghurt. It wasn’t overwhelming, spice-wise, as a lot of so called Indian restaurants in Colombo tend to be, and the chicken especially was superb, soft and falling off the bone. The mutton was also wonderfully tender, obviously cooked up by a skilled Indian chef, with a hefty portion of thick, spicy, flavoursome gravy.
We were here for lunch when there were quite a number of customers, many Indian ones (always a good sign for authenticity), and service was pretty efficient. Our waiters were very friendly and attentive, in a hurry to refill our glasses and help us make our choices from the menu.
Navratna gets points for ambience, if you’re looking for a comfortable Indian dining experience. Around the formal dining tables are fading murals of Rajputs, a corner with tablas and other Indian instruments which we assume becomes a stage in the evenings, and vintage Hindi music playing to set the mood. It’s a cool, quiet space, good for business meetings or downtime with a friend.
Navratna is a legit option if you’re looking for good Indian food in a comfortable, efficiently run space. If you enjoy quality masala meats and biriyani, this place is definitely worth considering.