Red Orchids is a Sri Lankan-Chinese restaurant that has a lot of the original kitchen staff and waiters from Flower Drum (the iconic Thurstan Road outlet that closed down).
So it’s kind of the same experience. It’s good for what it is, and it’s affordable.
Red Orchids calls itself a Chinese and Thai restaurant, so you get a pretty wide selection of favourites from these cuisines, Sri Lankanized for the local palette of course.
We asked for the Tom Yum seafood soup, and for Rs. 650 we were surprised to get this ridiculously giant bowl of the stuff. The soup could have easily filled little bowls for six people. It wasn’t perfect, a little too salty for my liking, but still you got that basic hit of herbs and lemongrass, also plenty of delicious chunks of mushroom, cuttlefish and shrimp.
The hot butter cuttlefish, for Rs. 800, reminded us of Flower Drum fare – chewy, dry, spicy – it isn’t your ideal HBC but there’s that MSG type addictiveness to it.
We also got the beef red curry for Rs. 725 – more soupy and the flavours didn’t hit the mark as well as in an authentic Thai dish, but still this was quite good, fragrant, generously portioned and went well with our seafood rice. I particularly enjoyed the seafood rice, not too oily, flavoursome and the smell of it wafted in as they brought it to our table. Put together, our selection mixed well, making a typical classic Sri Lankan-Chinese/Thai style lunch.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I went separately and tried their more Chinese stuff – mixed fried rice, spare ribs, beans, hot butter cuttlefish, etc. It’s got the same filling, hearty experience that you used to get from Flower Drum back in the day. Wouldn’t call it authentic, but so what, it’s tasty. Also tried their clear cucumber soup, which was excellent.
Service & Ambience
The restaurant is pretty decent, A/Ced, clean and comfortable with formal tables and a little bit of that obligatory Chinese decor. There’s an outdoor balcony upstairs. Fun fact, it seems to have once been somebody’s house, so you’ll find a bathtub in the washroom. It wasn’t crowded during our visit so the waiters were extremely attentive – glasses were refilled fast, and the staff were very friendly.
If you’re in the mood for good Sri Lankan-Chinese, this place is a great option to consider. The portions are big, so if you order wisely you’ll probably spend about Rs. 1000 per head for a hearty meal.