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3/5

Loon Tao

43/12 College Avenue, Mount Lavinia.


Loon Tao, roughly meaning "Way of the Dragon" has lost its claim as a top contender in the Chinese restaurant racket.



Half in an open-air beach shack, and the other half under the stars, Loon Tao serves delicious pan-Asian seafood on Mt. Lavinia beach, at a reasonable price. The restaurant’s biggest culinary strength is the simplicity of its cuisine. Leaning heavily on traditional Asian flavours – coriander, chilli, garlic, fennel seed, sesame oil, lime and a range of peppers – they have elevated their fare above the humdrum, simply through masterful fine-tuning.

You might never encounter a truly inspiring dish there, nor one that is exotic to a modern south-Asian palate, but Loon Tao’s standards rarely dip below excellent, and the chefs know which dishes to pack with flavor, and when to coax the morning’s catch into the limelight with an unintrusive treatment. Their Thai-style garupa, which straddles both approaches, is a highlight, and you’re unlikely to find better Szechuan-style cuttlefish in the same price range anywhere on the island.

The price Loon Tao pays for this consistency though, is a lack of adventure. Repeat visits yield diminishing returns, because one dish, while delicious, tastes little different from the next. The flavours you found reassuring on your first bite lapse into gastronomic routine as the waiters trot out each new offering from the vast, but uncannily limited menu. If it wasn’t for seasonal changes in the night sky above, or the strength of the waves washing ashore nearby, it is difficult to distinguish one evening at Loon Tao from the next.

But there is Loon Tao’s trump card – its location. About halfway along the 'Golden Mile' strip, it’s one of a few restaurants sharing the best spot on the beach, where the sea is just far enough from the entrance, which in turn is easily accessed by hopping the train tracks at the end of College Road, and taking a short stroll on the sand. The thatched roof and rough wooden tables embellish the atmosphere, although, Loon Tao doesn’t always get its ambience right. An acoustic musician is hired to perform most nights, and he’s generally quite good, but often you want nothing but the waves making music in your ears, and as laidback as his tunes are, they can become an irritation. Occasionally you will find the restaurant next door is hosting a loud wedding reception or work function, and nothing kills the mood quite like Lil’ Wayne honking out obscenities into the Indian Ocean.

Despite its flaws, a visit to Loon Tao is thoroughly worthwhile, particularly for the uninitiated. It is also probably the best restaurant on the strip – though that might have something also to do with the paucity of quality contenders. You may not enjoy Loon Tao as a regular evening out, but then there are rare nights of bliss, when the moon rises over the horizon, sending it’s light scattering across the water, and with a sea breeze in your face and the sand between your toes, you could be eating anything in the world and feel it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted.

TIP

Three's a crowd - If you have the numbers get their Garupa done two different ways.

Address

43/12 College Avenue, Mount Lavinia.

Contacts

Report Inaccuracy

Open 11 to 3- Afternoon 6 to 11 - Evenings

Cuisine

Chinese Sri Lankan Chinese

Price Range

Between Rs. 1000 - Rs. 1500

Dish Types

Noodles Seafood Lamb Fish Beer Wine Spirits Cocktails

Ratings Breakdown

Overall Rating
3
Quality Rating
3
Service Rating
2
Ambience Rating
4
Similar Places

User Reviews
I
1

1/5

0

Inshraleen

I would never recommend this place to anyone. went there last Saturday for dinner and had to wait for over half an hour before I had to walk up to a waiter and ask him to take our order down. even after that we had to wait for over two hours and our food never came. when we went and inquired about it they had no idea what was going on. there was no manager running the place as he was "sick" and had taken time off. all the waiters were lost about the operations and there were more than three people complaining about how they've not got there food for the at least two hours. this is THE worst experience I've had at any restaurant in Sri Lanka. #Loontao

V
1

1/5

0

VF

We visited Loon Tao today as we had very nice previous experiences. We waited for half an hour to get a table and no one even bothered. Waited for more than 2 hours to get food on the table. Average food and poor service.

S
2

2/5

0

Shalendra96

Place is utter sad. Came there on the 25th of July with a few friends in the afternoon for lunch. Silly bunch of drunkards were causing havoc in the place…drinking shouting and swearing. One utter failure in particular looked like a real dumbass with a fake asf accent was screaming out for more beer. Hardly anyone. Waiter was some African dude. Nice guy. Food was sub par and not great. The place is just wet and the tables and chairs are breaking. The menu cards are so old they are taring. The waiters look like garbage and they have no hygiene at all. Really sad to see

I
1

1/5

0

Inshraleen

I would never recommend this place to anyone. went there last Saturday for dinner and had to wait for over half an hour before I had to walk up to a waiter and ask him to take our order down. even after that we had to wait for over two hours and our food never came. when we went and inquired about it they had no idea what was going on. there was no manager running the place as he was "sick" and had taken time off. all the waiters were lost about the operations and there were more than three people complaining about how they've not got there food for the at least two hours. this is THE worst experience I've had at any restaurant in Sri Lanka. #Loontao

V
1

1/5

0

VF

We visited Loon Tao today as we had very nice previous experiences. We waited for half an hour to get a table and no one even bothered. Waited for more than 2 hours to get food on the table. Average food and poor service.

S
2

2/5

0

Shalendra96

Place is utter sad. Came there on the 25th of July with a few friends in the afternoon for lunch. Silly bunch of drunkards were causing havoc in the place…drinking shouting and swearing. One utter failure in particular looked like a real dumbass with a fake asf accent was screaming out for more beer. Hardly anyone. Waiter was some African dude. Nice guy. Food was sub par and not great. The place is just wet and the tables and chairs are breaking. The menu cards are so old they are taring. The waiters look like garbage and they have no hygiene at all. Really sad to see

O
1

2/5

0

obsh55

Popped into Loon Tao on a Saturday night with my parents…attention and service by the local staff was terrible…we were totally ignored, and one even had the audacity to say that I had to mention in the order that I wanted a non chilled soft drink after he brought out a chilled drink, even though I specifically mentioned beforehand that we required non chilled drinks. I'm pretty sure he would have bent double and brought out two if a foreigner had requested a different beverage. The tall African dude was really polite, so we got him to serve us. Also dont listen to them if they say that the portions are too small, stick to what you want to order. Its your choice! Not going back to Loon Tao again :(

M
2

5/5

0

millennialexplorer

If it's seafood, then this is the place in town you definitely must try. Especially their garupa!!

See 21 Comments