Usually, when I visit a restaurant/café I find a few pretentious details here and there that irritate me. From filling up every visible space with bogus ornaments to serving lettuce leaves out of mason jars, there are a lot of places I'd rather avoid because of the overly exaggerated presentation. It's an eyesore.
Here's a list of my favourite places that aren't over the top when it comes to ambience and price. Food's great, too.
Ming Han is #1 on my list for a reason. Sure, it's a hole in the wall and the alarmingly unhygienic conditions of the restaurant itself are enough to make one turn on their heels. There's probably a kingdom of rats hiding somewhere in the kitchen. Sometimes it reeks as if a dog mistook the whole place for a doggie-loo, and the A/C is leaky.
But the food is brilliant. Their noodle soups are to kill for and their portions are ginormous.
Also, don't whine if Wijayapala sasses you; that's just how he is. He's been working there for 25 years and he's seen more in his day than we probably ever will. He completes the dingy, doghouse atmosphere with his eccentric personality.
Not for the faint of heart and certainly not for those with sensitive tummies, this place is hands down one of the best joints in Colombo for Chinese food.
Giovanni's is a default favourite for everyone who loves a good pizza so it'd be blasphemous if I didn't include these guys on here. Many an evening have I found myself here with the gangsi, gorging on their Quattro Formaggi until I'm sweating cheese. It isn't a pretty sight.
Their interior is practically gorgeous. It's tiny, it's cosy and has a lot of personality. Their graffitied roof is the best bit. The seating area by the pavement is basically a genius move.
Their service sells just as well as their pizzas. The guys are extremely friendly and aren't hesitant to engage in a bit of friendly conversation every now and then.
I strongly recommend this place if you've got a bunch of hungry friends to feed; they're well worth the price, they're quick and their pizzas are 10/10.
Pho Vietnam is my go-to if I'm planning an evening binge with my friends. Their food is worth the price and their portions are large and filling. I've ordered their Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup so many times that I find myself miserable because my brain doesn't want to try anything else. Their appetisers are great as well and I highly recommend the Vietnamese Crispy Spring Rolls. The restaurant is clean, cosy and I quite like their minimal decor.
Service can be a little slow and I don't like being kept waiting when I'm the only person in the whole place. But the food is so good, I don't mind waiting.
Sometimes when we order in, they can get pretty stingy with their meat which is saddening but oh well.
I've probably been to Dwaraka more times that I've been anywhere else. They're 100% vegetarian which is the only downside but their Paneer Naans make up for all their other drawbacks. The place is very modest, with dim lighting and very basic decor/furniture. It's a very proper place that's perfect to take your grandparents/family out for dinner. Their prices are also very reasonable so you can enjoy a really good chapathi portion without worrying about the long term effects it'd have on your bank account.
They've got enough seating and private rooms to comfortably accommodate about 50 people.
The service is alright. They always seem to have a surplus of staff which is a little puzzling because they can be rather slow on certain days.
Note: DO try their masala chai.
The Cricket Club Cafe is probably one of the most interesting joints to dine at. Their interior decor is on point with all sorts of cricket-related paraphernalia hung up on the walls. Ranging from autographed cricket bats to vintage newspaper clippings, this place is full of points for your Instagram and/or if you need a quick brush up on your cricket trivia.
Although every single inch of their walls is covered with whosits and whatsits, they haven't strayed from their theme or overdone it in the least.
Their burgers are delicious (as are most of their meals) and prices are reasonable. Get their Mango Pancakes for dessert; you're in for a treat.
Lantheruma is one of my most-visited lunch spots because it's a short walk away from the office. In addition to the convenient location, their rice and curries are always fresh. However, recent reports indicate that they can get a little careless every now and then and leave out stale curries. Each and every one of my experiences here has been positive though.
If you're nice to the people manning the counter they'll sneak you an extra portion of kadala or whatever and even excuse you if you haven't brought enough cash.
There's also a friendly cat who can get a little annoying with her whining when you're eating, but as with all life's problems if you ignore her enough she'll go away.
I have a younger sister. I like to use her as an excuse to go to Butter Boutique and get myself a slice of their Red Velvet Cake plus a glass of their excellent Chai Latte. I have to maintain my gluttonous urges when I'm there and act civilised so they don't catch me shovelling chunks of cake into my mouth with glee.
Their outlet is quite minuscule with very limited seating. I'm not the biggest fan of their cutesy interior decor because I end up looking like a witch in a dollhouse.
Pricewise they're alright because their cakes are of high quality. However, I've noticed that their portion sizes have dwindled enormously since they first started. This might be due to the fact that some people can't actually finish up, but the rest of us are left wanting more.
Oh and my sister doesn't complain when we go there. She loves the place as much as I do.
This is just a list of places that appeal to me. I don't believe in handing over my entire bank account when it comes to indulging in good food so naturally, I gravitate more towards wallet-friendly options. I'm aware that one or two places listed above are a teensy bit expensive, but the price is fair when you consider quality.
If you find this list offensive then click here to watch one of our recipe videos so your time is spent doing something productive (unlike compiling this list).
If you have any suggestions for me, then please feel free to leave a comment. Bon appetit!
Here's a round-up of Colombo's buffets with their strengths and weaknesses.
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