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COi by Vichalya

4th Floor, Clique, 505, Union Place, Colombo 2

COi is a creative restaurant by one of Sri Lanka's best young chefs. Get ready for heavy hits of umami and some unusual combinations of Sri Lankan ingredients and Japanese style.

We visited Coi by Vichalya (who used to wow us at rare), and expected to be blown away. We weren't quite, so let us give you a break down of how our night went.

Food And Drink

The food was alright, which is a problem in itself. If you're putting a premium on your dishes at about Rs. 4000 a head for a meal, whatever you serve up should be perfection. We expected a lot better, and it just came up short. To be fair, the plating for everything was really lovely.

We started with a dumpling seafood soup in an aromatic broth. It was absolute South East Asian wholesome comfort food. It was yum, hot, and flavourful. Chunks of seafood, wisps of thin noodle, slivers of garlic. At Rs. 875, it could have been enough for a full meal for a fairly light eater like myself. (Keep in mind we were all on the verge of frostbite from the aggressive AC, so people took turns holding my bowl for warmth).

We also tried a Maguro Sashimi from their extensive Japanese selection. For a restaurant that touts itself as Indo-Lankan Asian street hawker fusion [Editor's Note: What?], having more than half your menu as straight up Japanese food is misguided. We think there appears to be some incongruence between the chef and the marketing team. Despite the sashimi appearing like large intimidating slabs of tuna, it was superbly fresh. Just good, wholesome cuts of quality seafood. It was surprisingly light, and we enjoyed it and thought it was understandably priced at Rs. 870.

The mains were less straightforward and satisfying than these first two dishes. We ordered a Ceylon Arrack marinated calamari with sweet and sour mango relish at Rs. 1890, and a Pork Belly with sour salad and lemon vinegar at Rs. 2120. Maybe calamari just doesn't really lend itself to marination in alcohol or our taste buds are impervious to subtle hints of alcohol, but we couldn't catch a hint of the arrack. The calamari was really just rubbery and tough, and very very lightly flavoured. There was plenty of chopped garlic and not much else. We couldn't even finish it. 

The pork belly was alright, but again not worth the 2 thousand plus price tag. It was very fatty and soft, and the flavours vastly underwhelming. There really isn't much more that can be said about it, it was just like eating meat- flavoured chewy gelatin.

All the drinks we wanted were unavailable, a week after the restaurant opened. They said they were available at the club upstairs, but they couldn't bring them down to us. We sulked, and asked for stuff on the "classic cocktails" menu. Also unavailable. We settled for a dirty martini (Rs. 1000), and an Arrack Sour (Rs. 800). The dirty martini brought tears to our eyes (because of the alco fumes, not joy), and was insanely strong and fine. 

The Arrack Sour was really clear and lacked the amber tint, so we weren't totally convinced the alcohol used was arrack, but since the only way from arrack is upwards we didn't complain. 


Located just under the Clique nightclub, COi is a surprisingly compact 4th floor location - essentially a rectangular room with just about 8-10 tables. We prefer smaller restaurants because it generally means more attention to detail and more intimacy. The COi chromatic scheme is an interesting juxtaposition of stark white furniture and upholstery and incredibly bright fuschia contemporary Japanese abstract design. 

There's also a window at the tail end of the restaurant through which you can look down on the suckers still stuck in traffic and laugh condescendingly. The design is actually super funky, and is discreetly mirrored on their paper table mats. The print features everything from sakura (cherry blossoms), chinese paper lanterns, and dragons to Lankan yaka mask motifs, koi carps (of course), and Hokusai's Wave.

The wild bursts of colour trailing assymetrically are reminiscent of an Asian acid-laced Alice in Wonderland theme. We were fans, but the stark juxtapositions and stark whites can get a bit jarring. Especially because the lighting is quite bright, featuring both spherical warm shades and cold white spot lights at the couples tables (why? Is this a date or an interrogation?).

The china and tableware were well-appointed, but eccentric choices. Each of our plates was vastly different, and we had mugs to serve as water tumblers. All very eccentric, but made for a cramped and messy table. The knives also had about the same serration and cutting power as butter knifes, which just made life unecessarily difficult.

Our only real problem with the ambience was the temperature, as the central A/C was at an unacceptably high level. We were absolutely freezing. Freezing to the point that our fingers were numb and we could barely hold cutlery straight.


We thought the service was great. Attentive, alert waiters who were polite and friendly, and knew their way around the menu to some extent. Of course, we were also there at an unfathomly early hour by Colombar dining standards (7 PM), so we had the place to ourselves for a while. They also overheard us mentioning that the lack of music was strange, and within a minute they'd turned it on (it was some sort of undefinable lounge electro stuff, in case you were wondering).

The only gripes we had were irking though. Most of the stuff on the drinks menu was still unavailable, which we wish we were told BEFORE we ordered, twice. Also, we each asked about 4 times if the A/C could be turned down or even switched off. There was a lot of bustling, and half an hour and some hypothermia later, there were no updates. Finally they told us it wasn't possible, when we asked again. We started to use the napkins as capes.


Your expectations depend on the price you're paying. And in this case, on the reputation of the chef. We love what the restaurant is trying to do, but we just had a lacklustre time (which is in direct opposition to what we've heard from the usual Colombo buzz who appear to love the place). Given both Clique and Vichalya's dedication to inventive excellence, we have no doubt COi will end up being one of our upscale favourites in the future. Just not now, and not like this. 


Look out for the dishes that incorporate local ingredients.


4th Floor, Clique, 505, Union Place, Colombo 2


It's on the 4th floor of the Clique building, which is roughly above Union Chemists. From the Union Place roundabout you need to do a U-Turn, legally after turning right on Darley Road. There's plenty of parking behind.


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Sri Lankan Fusion

Price Range

More than Rs.1500

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Avatar for Imaad




I wasn't impressed by the sushi, but their Christmas menu was on point!

Avatar for Imaad




I wasn't impressed by the sushi, but their Christmas menu was on point!

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