Naniyori is basically Steamboat's Japanese-wing and well I've never found Steamboat's
staple Chinese food to be up to much. Still hoping against hope that inexpensive Japanese food could still be found in this city I made my way to Narahenpita Road but things didn't look good. A forbidding take-away counter by the entrance and a cavernous empty, upstairs seating area populated by inattentive staff. We were offered both Chinese and Japanese menus- a bit of an affront to the do one thing and do it well philosophy that I've always believed should underpin things at a decent restaurant.
We ordered a plate of Nigiri sushi (oblong blobs of vingered rice covered by raw fish) just to see what would turn up. To my absolute surprise and delight however, within minutes, a very attractive platter of rice and fish (10pcs or so) was laid before us. Every piece of fish was gleaming and generous. Ruby red hunks of tuna, glistening slabs of squid. It really looked too good to be true, I began to suspect a paint-job of some kind. On tasting however it held up to scrutiny. Absolutely fresh, soft without being slimy with the subtly sweet tang of the sushi-rice. Very close to being the equal of much more expensive Sushi-spots in the city and definitely superior to my recent experiences at Sakura
After this success we ordered some oshi sushi (not as good as the nigiri), a beef katsu don - a generous portion of tender, crumbed meat, rich eggy rice the sweetness of caremelized onions and a chicken teriyaki- deliciously sweet and sour with an amazing wood-smoked taste. The cooked dishes had perhaps a smidgen too much salt but were all tasty and if not 100% authentic (whatever that means) it was authentic enough. On the strength of that performance more than a match for Sakura and honestly with the value factor competitive with much higher-end Japanese restaurants. However to realise it's obvious potential to become a city sushi staple Steamboat/Naniyori need to do some serious work on the stark interior and elusive staff. Still it seems affordable sushi still has a home in Colombo and with the total bill at Rs 3000 (enough for three) my bank balance survived to deplete itself another day.
Try the bento boxes and the katsudon.