A few days ago I stepped into Flower Drum for a quick lunch, four small dishes between two and walked away 4000 rupees poorer.
Stunned by the price I resolved not to depart from street lunch staples like the beautiful R and R, Hotel de Plaza, Greenlands Hotel, and Indi’s excellent Dehiwala bath kade all of which will serve you a tasty two person lunch for under Rs. 1000. Restaurants are so often overpriced and mediocre I was on the verge of giving up when someone mentioned that the consistently excellent Nihonbashi has lunch sets for Rs 1400 nett.
Now if you can spend Rs 3700, for two, at Flower Drum then a Rs 2800 meal at Nihonbashi is real value. We wasted no time in getting ourselves to their flagship Honten restaurant on Galle Face terrace. While it’s nestled down an unassuming lane in Colpetty this is one of Colombo’s best restaurants and from the moment you walk in the experience is a class above. There’s the sleek black and bamboo interior with its zen water features and attentive staff who’ll immediately present you with cold towels and usher you to your table or one of their private rooms.
You’ve left the world of the Flower Drums and Chinese Dragons behind and entered a wonderland of good design, attentive service and tasty beautifully presented food. The selection of 1400 and 1700 rs lunch sets is extensive, so the main challenge you’ll have while navigating Nihonbashi’s food paradise on a budget is figuring out which one you want. There are sushi, teriyaki, donburi katsu, gyoza and ramen based sets and the meals comes with a side of rice, miso soup and vegetables. I went for the oyako don – rice topped with simmered chicken and eggs. It was very good – the chicken amazingly soft, however I was in the mood for some serious eating so should probably have gone for the more filling Okonomiyaki – Japanese/Kottu pancake.
Still for the price the meal was definitely good value and it’s great to be able to dine at Nihon Bashi and not worry too much about the damage its doing to your wallet. However you must remember that you’re admitted into this enclave of good eating, for a reasonable price, only between 12 and 2pm. If you are on a budget keep in mind that you must never stray off the path of the set menu. We made the mistake of ordering a couple of their signature dishes from the regular (non-set) menu and this sent the bill soaring.
That was really our fault for yielding to the temptation of the menu’s pictures and not sticking to the sets so YAMU can still declare Nihonbashi’s sets one of the city’s better value lunch options. Fully worth checking out particularly if you’ve wanted to try NB and feared it would be too expensive.
Note; Remember touch nothing but the sets… Also Nihonbashi’s main branch is getting on to 20 years old so they are in the process of refurbishing. At the moment the main dining area is looking good but some of the private rooms still need some TLC…