It doesn't quite make sense that you have to pay 5 times over for a hopper at a high-end Sri Lankan restaurant, when you can get it for just 15 - 20 rupees from a streetside joint. However, if you're keen on the family-friendly, awe-inspiring ambience coupled with welcoming service, there are a number of restaurants in Colombo that you can go for.
Which is why we've created this list - the fanciest Sri Lankan Restaurants in town that would satisfy your all kinds of Lankan food cravings - from hoppers, pittu, and roti to hathmaaluwa, ambul thiyal and chicken kalu pol curry.
You can find great local fare all over the island, but Upali's pair it with a lovely family-friendly space and service in the heart of the city. With a spread containing sambols, rotis, soups, curries and a whole bunch of vegetarian options, this is a brilliant option for any spice lover. We particularly enjoyed their Elu Mas Kaluwata Uyala (Black Mutton Curry), which we paired with roast paan and pol sambol.
Green Cabin is one of those restaurants in Colombo that has a long history behind them. You can hear about it very well - if you have Colombar uncles/aunties in their 50s/60s. Green Cabin mainly does rice and curry, offered in buffet style, and they make it authentic in every avenue. Coupled with the peaceful ambience, it's a good spot to drop by and grab a true Lankan bite, if you ever find yourself around Kollupitiya.
One of the most expensive options on the list, Kaema Sutra adds a Western twist to the beloved Lankan delicacies, but without letting it lose the authenticity. Take their dessert hopper for an instance. Instead of the usual pani appa, this hopper comes with treacle, whipped cream, and a handful of chopped strawberries. This one had us licking the plate, because it was that delicious. However, it sounds a bit off when a hopper costs Rs. 600. Aside from that, they have an interesting Bento Lunch Box, curated in Lankan style, Lamprais, Egg Roti - Chicken Curry combo and the likes.
Nestled in the basement of the Renuka Hotel, Palmyrah is a little gem that serves authentic Northern Sri Lankan cuisine and hoppers. Cheese hoppers are a must try here, and we quite enjoyed their, rasam, and beef porial on the Northern side of things.
Offering a completely down-to-earth dining experience to the un-Lankans and Lankans alike, Culture Colombo carries a massive spread of typical Lankan dishes. Your safest bet here is the Tasting Basket that offers a whole bunch of Lankan things neatly decked out on a ginormous kulla. Priced at Rs. 2400, it can easily feed 3/4 people. This one features two egg rotis, two egg hoppers, two plain hoppers, half a white rice flour pittu, half a red pittu, red and white string hoppers (6 each), two cups of kottu, chicken curry, fish curry, pol sambol, katta sambol, seeni sambol, and kiri hodhi - which all of them are executed very well. Make sure you grab a taste of their caramel pudding, and curd - treacle combo after the meal - they're superb too.
Graze Kitchen in Hilton Colombo does a multi-cuisine buffet, which includes a station for Sri Lankan fare. As for buffet pricing; lunch: (Mon-Wed) Rs. 3388, (Thur-Fri) Rs. 3588, (Sun) Rs. 3988 and dinner: (Mon) Rs. 3288, (Tue-Wed) Rs. 3,888, (Thu-Sat) Rs. 3988.
Rich with nutrients, and boasting an irresistible aroma, while working its flavour magic, karapincha is something of a godsend in Sri Lankan culinary fare. Having realised this, Karapincha is a resto in Dehiwala that puts a handful of this leafy goodness in everything they whip up. While their kaju curry is top notch, the isso kaluwata thel daalaa comes with around 20 well-cooked prawns bursting with flavours, which is ideal for sharing.
One of the few crab-centric spots in Colombo, Black Pepper has a bunch of delectable, and interesting seafood dishes cooked in Lankan style - from Jaffna Crab Curry to Tangalle Thora Maalu Olu Curry.
Serving all things crab, Ministry of Crab is the most expensive one in this list. If you're looking for Lankan style shellfish-centred dishes, this one is one good choice. The crab ones are pricey, but understandably so, considering they use export quality mud crab sourced in Sri Lanka. Plus, they pair these treats with delicious side dishes - pol sambol, kadey paan, kangkung garlic and egg.
Yet another spot in Colombo to experience some fleshy, succulent crab cooked with a Lankan twist. The Fat Crab is a less expensive option (in comparison), and does a really good Jaffna Crab Curry and Negombo Style Devilled Crab.
Sahal is a resto by Sen-Saal and has a vast and carefully curated menu which features an impressive collection of regional cuisines of Sri Lanka - from Balapitiye Maalu Olu (Balapitiya fish head) Curry and Sabaragamuwe Hath Maaluwa (seven veggies curry from Sabaragamuwa Province) to Jaffna Odiyal Kool and Fried Cuttlefish & Drumstick Leaf Curry, coming all the way from Eastern seaboard. We particularly enjoyed their Karaththa Curry (Bullock Cart Curry) - a recipe forged by ancient cart travellers, as well as Kithul Thalapa (jaggery palm flour pudding) on the desserts section. The cocktails they whip up have these hilarious names - Siri Lanka Sudiya, Malle Pol, Karakila Amberella, Sumihiri Paane, and Kurundu Watta etc. Our favourite was the Saima Cut Wela; a concoction of vodka, tequila, and triple sec slipping in together with bits of pineapple, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, and ice.
What's your favourite Sri Lankan restaurant in the city? Do let us know in the comments.
Donate your hair to cancer patients and get a free styling from Ramani Fernando Salons!
Countries that let you in without a fuss with your Lankan passport
A tiny cafe with an interesting back story.
Here's a round-up of Colombo's buffets with what they do best.
A list of 19 places for your next day outing.