Kami Maki is a happening new Japanese place on the corner of Jawatte and Thimbirigasaya. The food needs a bit of work on the basics, but it's an interesting and intelligent concept. We think it's worth an informed visit now and that they'll get better with feedback.
Kami Maki is in a highly visible but tiny space in Thimbirigasaya and, right now at least, the place is quite happening. It was sold out the first night we went there and it always seems pretty full. Of course, that's partly because it's built on like two perches and can only fit about 12 people at a time.
The nigiri sushi
Kami Maki has a really creative menu and some interesting ideas - rice burgers, wasabi fries, etc. On execution, however, they still need a bit of work. The nigiri sushi, for example, is relatively affordable (Rs. 150 for tuna, 170 for salmon) and the fish part is definitely good. What's weird is the rice. It seems overcooked or something, for us it came out like kiribath. We're not experts, but it just didn't taste like sushi rice. That's obviously fixable, but it does unbalance an otherwise well presented dish.
The crab and cucumber maki
The crab and cucumber with chili mayo (Rs. 490) also. Crab, cucumber, seaweed - all good. The rice was just a bit off. Also didn't seem to come with chili mayo.
Their biggest selling (and most interesting) things are their rice burgers (Rs. 550, beef). Here the presentation is great, flavoring is good, but again they need to work on one main ingredient. Sri Lankan beef is what it is, but this beef was really chewy. We timed and it took our friend 30 seconds to chew one bite. As a note, you can’t pick up and eat the rice burger. We’d describe it as, well, Japanese kiribath stacks with beef and pickles in the middle.
Same for the beef teppanyaki (Rs. 490). Just really tough. Sri Lankan beef is hard to work with, but we'd go so far as to say avoid the beef here altogether.
The chicken is fine, like the donburi with rice (Rs. 590). It's not an 'authentic' donburi, what with grated carrot, etc, but it's pretty good and the meat is cooked well. The sashimi is also OK. We can't vouch for the prawn or seafood (besides crab) but we're assuming that's OK.
Tamarind ice cream
Where the creativity of the menu met execution was on the desserts and drinks. The tamarind ice cream (Rs. 300) and tamarind juice (Rs. 250) were excellent, as was the cookie coated chocolate ice cream (Rs. 350).
Kami Maki from the outside
The location is both good and bad. It's highly visible, on a prominent street corner. However, the space itself is tiny. About two perches we'd guess. That's about the size of two parking spots, and they've built two accessible floors. It's glass fronted so it's also really hot around lunchtime. There is outdoor seating, but that's only really usable in the evenings, until they get umbrellas. Even then, there's traffic (noise, smog) from the street. There's basically no parking at all, two spots around the corner but not really. We had to park down a side street.
On the plus side, the place is always packed. You do get an excited feeling in there, even if it gets hot after a while. You're elbow to elbow and you can hear every conversation, but it also feels like you're in a happening spot.
Many times, however, you just won't be able to get a seat, so takeaway and delivery are necessary and available options.
You're cheek-by-jowl with the staff so it's easy to communicate. They're quite nice, competent and care, which is why we have hope that the food related issues can be fixed.
The wasabi fries (Rs. 450)
Kami Maki is an exciting new place with a few teething issues in terms of food (rice and beef preparation for us). It's not cheap but for the sushi it's relatively affordable. It's also really tiny, so not the most comfortable place to dine-in. The service and management seem to be smart so we have hope that they can learn and adapt. It's a buzzing place and a welcome addition to Colombo 5.
The rice burgers and rolls are your best bet.