The ancient progenitor of all Colombo’s seafood restaurants emerged out of the Indian Ocean perfectly formed and clambered onto its curve of Wellawatte sand at some point in the 70s.
There it has remained, basically unchanged for 40 years. Wadiya features the same thatched shack, the same slightly surly waiters and Olwyn, the now ancient manager, always sitting at the same table by the entrance.
This amazing longevity can be attributed to the fact that the Wadiya is perfectly adapted to its environment.
The only restaurant on Colombo’s one serviceable beach, it enjoys an innate competitive advantage. The menu is simple, the food is reasonably priced, the shack is easy to maintain and the garlic sauce is delicious.
Since time immemorial a catch-of-the-day plate, typically a lobster, a mullet and some smaller fruits of the sea, has been presented to patrons. Diners point to the items that take their fancy and request them grilled, fried or devilled (this means chili). Lashings of garlic and sweet chilli sauce and a stock of well priced liquor make for an almost infallibly pleasant dining experience.
It’s a simple sea food in shack on a beach but the central location and the restaurants longevity in itself keep you going back. Sometimes you go only because you’ve gone so many times before.
It’s also one of not nearly enough places in the city where you can really appreciate the fact that Colombo is a city by the sea. Sunset under the shack with perhaps an arrack ginger ale, a plate of chips and a pile of fried cuttlefish (calamari) is really difficult to beat.