Paan Paan is a bakery which has rapidly expanded to three outlets and a range of items. Their sandwich bar makes excellent, healthy sandwiches, melts and submarines as well as offering breads, pastries, sweets, etc.
Colombo has rapidly gone from having no proper sandwich shops to two (Paninos
and Paan Paan) with Subway on the way and the Sandwich Club perpetually threatening to open on Chatham Street. There are also rumors that Subway is on the way, if you can call that a proper sandwich.
Paan Paan stands out because they bake the bread themselves, and the bread is really excellent. Bread is what you're getting the most of in any sandwich and this bread is really good. Paan Paan makes a range of baguettes (Rs. 140), ciabattas (Rs. 80), sandwich bread (Rs. 160/190), etc. These go into their submarines, cheese melts and sliced bread sandwiches.
Spicy Chicken Cheese Melt
(Rs. 250): The cheese melts are the newest thing on the menu and compete directly with the Paninos namesake (a little sandwich competition is good). These melts are pretty simple, ciabatta bread (we think), filling, cheese, a bit of lettuce. Also quite satisfying, even taken home and eaten later out of the fridge. The spicy chicken is just spicy enough and the bread is quite excellent.
They also make a shredded beef melt (Rs. 250, they're all the same price). This is also warm and toothsome, nicely toasted and cheesy.
Spicy Chicken Submarine
(Rs. 450, full): While the melts are new and toasted, our favorite is still the regular submarines. Mainly for the condiments. The bread is excellent, more airy than a ciabatta, and you get a lot of condimentations - lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard, etc.
Because the bread and quality of ingredients is high, basically everything is good here, just depends on what you prefer. We also wholeheartedly recommend the almond milk.
A lot of the time the owner is there, checking on everything and if not the manager and regular staff are really nice. The clientele seems to be mostly expat so it's a different sort of scene. Sri Lankans often say something is 'like in another country' as a sort of backhanded compliment, but here it kinda applies. Not that regular Sri Lankan service is necessarily bad, we personally think roadside kades and dodgy bars have excellent service, but middle-class Sri Lankan restaurants etc can be quite incompetent.
Because the owner is involved, the staff is trained and the clientele is demanding, Paan Paan has really good and really professional service. One thing we will say is that it can get busy as the owner/manager will get involved in actually preparing food, but if you're lucky they'll have some YAMU magazines around to read.
There are three outlets, one near Hindu College on Lorenz Rd in Colombo 5, one on Havelock Road and this one on Alfred House, near Cricket Club. The location here is quite central, just off Duplication Road and accessible via Galle Road past Colombo Jewelry Stores. This hood is getting a good concentration of places in a walkable are - Gallery Cafe, Paradise Road, Cricket Club, The Boulevard, China Doll, and now Paan Paan. Good location. We've actually seen people bicycling here.
Paan Paan makes great bread which turns into great sandwiches, melts. etc. It's not cheap but you're getting good, healthy value for money.
Try the excellent almond milk - chilled almond flavoured milk with natural almond pieces and a taste of saffron, much like a kulfi.