Curry Leaf is the Hilton's Sri Lankan restaurant, and they do an amazing spread of fresh seafood and local cuisine. They only have a buffet, from 7PM onwards, and there's a surprisingly large, high quality selection to pick from.
It costs more than Rs. 3000 per person though, which is the hitch - our dinner for two racked up a fat bill. Still, if you're looking for one of the best buffets in the city (and my personal favourite), this is it.
The Curry Leaf buffet has a very good, wide spread of local foods, so this is an especially good place to consider if you're new to the country. There's freshly prepared kottu and hoppers, and then clay-pot rows of rice, string hoppers, pittu, with all the hodhis, curries and sambols in tow.
Raja Bojun also does a similar looking spread but the difference is that here, from the fish curry to the mutton to the katta sambal, everything was especially tasty and enjoyable, and not your typical 'meh' Sri Lankan spread. The meats were tender and flavoursome and the sambals were dynamite.
The seafood part of the buffet is my favourite part and deserves a special section. Separate from your Lankan buffet section is a chilled room with fresh seafood on display, everything from crab to garoupa. You can make your pick and your choice of preparation here and head off and they'll bring it to your table - we asked for a little bit of everything.
We got the deep fried fish, chilli crab, chilli prawns, hot butter cuttlefish and a plate of garoupa (check out this review's gallery for more pictures). These meats were spot on. The chilli prawns came juicy in a spicy brown gravy, the HBC was great - and great HBC is hard to find - a little peppery, freshly fried and crunchy and the garoupa was an interesting change from the rest of our dishes - mild, creamy and perfectly soft.
The chilli crab was the winner though, deliciously presented in a coating of red sauce and green chillies, loaded with soft, sweet meat in easy-to-tackle shell.
We were given confusing directions when we got to the Hilton gate - we had to cross the road, take many flights of stairs to an overhead bridge, before reaching Curry Leaf on the other end. Quite a pilgrimage for some good seafood. But there is an easier way to get there from the main lobby - just make sure to ask for directions when you walk in. The ambience here is very relaxed and simple, thatched roof and brown floors - there is an A/Ced indoor space and a very pleasant outdoor one nearer to the buffet.
The good seafood, the carved moon-stone at the steps, the occasional Yaka mask hung up as decor, the Sri Lankan mariachi-type band (we got 'Surangani' sung to us - good times) - it's your typical tourist-friendly Sri Lankan dining experience. Service was superb, with the chef himself and the manager dropping by at the table to check on our meals.
Curry Leaf is a high quality buffet and my own new favourite now - if you love seafood as much as I do, this is a win. Also useful if you're new to the country and you want to try the best of local foods. It is however undeniably expensive - with taxes it came to Rs. 3500 per head. Quality, quantity and selection are still way up there, so if you do feel like a very special night out and you can afford it, this spread is worth considering.