We’ve recently devoted some space to the apparent fall of Sri Lankan Chinese food
. Recently it seems the majority of our beloved local Chinese restaurants – Flower Drum
, Chinese Dragon
, Flower Lounge etc have either closed down or let standards slip. I can’t even find Chinese Park View anymore (I’m told it has gone to Maradana) and the prospect of a fried rice and sweet and sour pork just doesn’t generate the excitement or satisfaction that it used to.
Does this mean that getting your fix of Chinese food in Colombo has gotten that much harder? Must we now subsist on a diet of curry alone? No, not at all. The fall of local Chinese food has been matched by the rise of the mainland restaurant. That’s right, the inexorable geopolitical rise of China can be felt even on the streets of Colombo. As China’s wealth, power and global ambition has grown, so has the amount of money it spends trying to win friends or cultivate friendly governments in distant parts of the world. So the past decade has seen a massive inflow of Chinese aid into Sri Lanka and with this largesse has come thousands of Chinese. Scores of diplomats, engineers, managers, foreman, labourers, their spouses and other assorted camp followers from the People’s Republic now call this island, temporary, home.
The first sign of this influx was that across Colombo, particularly Colpetty, small often very discreet restaurants began popping up. While many Colombars failed to notice, there are internet cafes that are actually restaurants, half-closed seeming shop fronts that house busy hot-pot centres and karaoke lounges that will cook up a good gu lao ruo
all around this city. One of the first of these underground eateries to be noticed by the broader Colombar community was Min Han.
Nestled at the bottom of Deanstone Place it’s little more than a room that serves authentic home-style Chinese food prepared by a couple from Hubei. And while the interior is really just five tables, excessively bright lighting and a TV constantly tuned to Chinese satellite channels, it’s clean enough and the food is absolutely authentic. This is Chinese food as you’d find in China (northern China). No hot butter cuttle fish, chop suey, or beef in oyster sauce but lots of potatoes, and meat. They do excellent guo tie(gyoza) aka fried dumplings (rs 200 for 10!), probably the best in the city.
Everything else on the menu is also pretty inexpensive and generally tasty. This is a fan guan
Chinese equivalent of a buth kade
so you’re not going to get high cuisine. But it’s simple tasty food. The pork belly is excellent, the fried rice reliable, they do di san xian
(an aubergine and potato dish) well and their tofu tastes fresher than elsewhere in Colombo.
You can eat well for Rs 500 something you haven’t been able to do at Flower Drum for years. The food tastes fresher and seems less laden with the colours and preservatives you find in Sri Lankan Chinese restaurants. In terms of value for money and taste Min Han now is more than a match for any of our local Chinese restaurants. While the decor is er... basic, it’s another urban-anthropological experience watching our nascent mainland Chinese community gradually evolve and adapt to local conditions. Just watching Min Han’s Chinese couple dealing/communicating with their one waiter, a local man who’s been there for years, is pretty amusing.
Ask Wijaypala (the waiter) what to order, we don't even look at the menu
We love Min Han, Ming Han, whatever you want to call it. This humble Chinese restaurant does really tasty and affordable food and is always a fun night out.
Colombo has a bazillion Chinese restaurants, with new ones seemingly popping up every week. Sadly though, hardly any of 'em serve truly authentic Chinese cuisine, with most establishments serving up what has now been named "Sri lankanized Chinese". Min Han, hidden away in a small house on Deanstone place, is one of those rare exceptions. If you want to experience truly authentic Chinese cuisine, we can't think of a better place.
Nestled at the bottom of Deanstone Place it’s little more than a room that serves authentic home-style Chinese food prepared by a couple from Hubei. It's simple tasty food as you wood get in any city in China.
යමු එකේ විතරක් නෙවෙයි, කොල්ලුපිටිය අවට රැකියාව කරන හුඟක් අය අතරේ ප්රසිද්ධ අවන්හලක් තමයි මේක.
මින් හාන් එකට යමු එකේ ඈයෝ කොච්චර ආදරේද කියන්නේ මෙතනට චාටර් කට්ටිය ගෙනිච්චයි කියල ඔෆිස් එකෙන් බැණුම් අහන්න වෙලත් තියෙනවා.
අපි පසුගිය කාලයේදී ශ්රී ලංකාවේ චීන කෑම වල බිඳවැටීම ගැන ඉඩක් ලබා දුන්නෙමු. ෆ්ලවර් ඩ්රම්, චයිනීස් ඩ්රැගන්, ෆ්ලවර් ලවුන්ජ් වැනි අප ආදරය කළ දේශීය චීන අවන්හල්වල බිඳවැටීම හෝ තත්වය පහළ යාම අපි දුටුවෙමු. මට තවදුරටත් චයිනීස් පාර්ක් වීව් අවන්හලවත් සොයාගත නොහැක. (ඒක මරදානට රැගෙන ගොස් කියා ආරංචි විණි..) ෆ්රයිඩ් රයිස් සහ ස්වීට් ඇන්ඩ් සවර් පෝර්ක්වල තවදුරටත් ඉස්සර එහි තිබූ ආකර්ෂණය ගෙන එන්නේ නැත.