Kingdom is something of an anomaly in Colombo’s highly saturated Chinese restaurant scene. They offer authentic Chinese cuisine which actually appeals to local tastebuds. The caveat, however, is that they’re not easy on the wallet.
We don’t know quite know how, but Kingdom has remained hidden off Thimbirigasyaya Road for nearly a year now. We might have dismissed it if had been a small spot, but the restaurant is massive. It seems to have been an official building of some sort prior to being to converted to a restaurant. (Ed Note: As far as I know, the plaque says it serves as one of the Chinese province's chamber of commerce offices. Interesting!)
This is actually one of the more upscale Chinese spots we’ve been to in a while. Judging by the seating arrangements, they seem to cater to larger crowds and Chinese expats. The furniture seemed quite premium with large solid, carved wooden chairs and lazy susan tables along with plenty of Chinese art and memorabilia. The only thing that put us off here was the washroom, which was unfortunately pretty dingy.
Besides a few exceptions like Min Han, Chinese cuisine in Colombo can be a very monotonous affair. Lately we’ve seen a few new spots open up with Chinese management, which introduced some much needed authenticity. The thing about authentic Chinese is that it doesn’t always go down well with the locals, as is the case sometimes with Tang Dynasty (which is actually pretty great if you know what to order). Kingdom, however, strikes a healthy medium between authentic and Sri Lankanized Chinese. The only thing keeping many locals away is the steep price, which will come to around Rs. 2000 per head; nearly double what you’d pay at other spots.
Like I mentioned earlier, Kingdom looks to cater to larger crowds so even the small portions are quite large. The seafood rice (Rs. 850) was not too oily with plenty of prawns and cuttlefish thrown in. We wouldn’t say it was spectacular, but certainly better than the seafood fried rice at most contemporaries. We liked the fact that it wasn’t seasoned too heavily, highlighting the flavour of the seafood.
The chicken noodles (Rs. 850) was a recommendation by the lady who took our order, and a good one at that. This was one of the better noodle dishes we’ve had in a while and pretty much all the elements were on point with a great balance of flavour, savouriness from the soy sauce and a good amount of chicken. Initial we felt the small portion for Rs 850 was too pricey but this was easily enough for four.
Since we didn’t wanna go over-budget, we stuck with two sides. The first was Kingdom’a take on hot butter cuttlefish (Rs. 1680), which was quite different from the local favourite. In fact, this was probably more true to the hot butter title since the cuttlefish wasn’t batter fried. From what we could tell, the cuttlefish seemed to have been lightly fried in a well seasoned chilli butter sauce which gave it just enough heat. We didn’t care much for the peppers, but the texture of the cuttlefish was also just about right with no chewiness.
The stir fried belly pork (Rs. 1450) was also excellent. This one didn’t really have any twists to it, just a straight up tasty pork belly. Again, a pretty hefty portion that comes mixed with sautéed peppers, onions and cabbage. The meat itself was tender with the fat rendered well.
The folks at Kingdom were very friendly, enthusiastic, and welcoming. Not gonna lie, communication can be tough but we think it’s great that they gave us recommendations despite the language barrier.
Kingdom turned out be one of the more pleasant Chinese dining experiences we’ve had in a while. This is not a place that you’d visit regularly (purely because of the prices), but definitely worth a try if you’re dining with a larger crowd and want some privacy.