The YAMU Date Night Index.

The YAMU Date Night Index tells you what hand to play when romance is on the cards. We started with your favourites, then added ours in by doing a bit of romancing in the name of science and came up with a pretty comprehensive index (we think).

All these places are good bets if you’re in it to win it. Of course, you should use your discretion and try and gauge your date’s preferences and the general mood. We’ve included our recommendations for a few scenarios. You can scroll down to view the whole table.

Best Places For Comfortable Or Casual Relationships

When you don’t want to come on too strong

Sugar Bistro. We’re not implying that these guys are on a date

Some relationships are either still too fragile/vague for overt romantic overtures, or are well-established and don’t need contrived situations to feel the connection. For these two extremes, more casual places that have a general clientele of families or friends unwinding are best. Consider Bayleaf, Sugar Bistro, or Barracuda.

Best Places For Proposals, Apologies, Anniversaries

When you do want to come on too strong

The entrance to the historic Tintagel

These places are meant for grand gestures. They’re expensive, they’re impressive, they’re the easy way to show you care if you’re not a wordy chap. Or if your special lady is displeased. Try London Grill, Tintagel, Royal Thai, or Chesa Swiss. They will also set up a special corner, a nice pre-chilled bottle of champagne, or other treats if you tell them it’s a special occasion while making your reservation.

Safe Bets

Congenial classics

Zaza from outside

Colombo has some date night staples that are pretty impossible to get wrong. They’re established, so there’s a level of consistency with quality, ambience and service (although we find that a bad experience can be fun because you get to fume at a common enemy, which is always a good way to bond). At ZAZA at Casa Colombo, you can start off with private laid-back al fresco dining and then cross the little stone bridge to their glass cube seating for louder music and some drinks. It’s quirky, it’s classy and it’s tasteful – everything you want your date to think you are.

Can’t go wrong with Gallery Cafe

Gallery Cafe is a strong first date option too, mostly because it has an artsy vibe and you know what you’re setting yourself up for. Dim lighting, good food, and lots of crowd make for a good blend of distraction and engagement.

Breeze Bar. Nice without too much commitment

Breeze Bar is also easy-peasy. You can expect some fun live music to sing along to during breaks in conversation after a particularly bad faux-pas, and the al fresco poolside seating is dimly lit yet lively. They also do a great cocktails happy hour on Friday nights, so you can impress her at half the price. 7 Degrees has a great view, lovely acoustic jams, and a sophisticate vibe. It makes for a nice post-dinner spot.

Best Places For Bling Dates

Ways to signal your future earning potential

The plush seats at Yu Mi

If you’re balling or want to appear as though you are, these places are superbly expensive, not too private and give off that high roller vibe. If you’re not making bank and flicking 5000 rupee notes at friendly girls in Jacuzzis isn’t your thing, SAVE UP. Suit up to try YUMI, Spoons, Royal Thai, or pretty much anything located at the Kingsbury, Cinnamons or Hilton. And of course, Nihonbashi.

Best Places For Beautiful Views

Besides gazing into your date’s eyes, of course

The view from the Grand Oriental Hotel. Possibly the best in the city

Colombo’s a coastal capital, which makes for a pretty super mix of good options and great views. A couple of the restaurants on this list made it on simply on the merit of their view, namely the Harbour Room at the Grand Oriental Hotel and the Governor’s Terrace at Mount Lavinia Hotel. Both establishments are well past their prime, but used to be the city’s poshest locations. Don’t expect great food or service, but if your date appreciates a bit of visual stimulation, these locations work.

The Harbour Room unsurprisingly affords a lovely view of the harbour all lit up at night interspersed with some colonial government buildings, while the MLH is a vista of the Colombo coastline – waves, horizon, and the sparkly lights of skyscrapers.

Even Fancier Views

And fancy prices to match

View from Sky Lounge (during the day)

Other great views come with a hefty price tag. Most of them are lovely ocean views, but others have finally made good use of the lush playing fields in the heart of the city. Sky Lounge at the Kinsgbury and the new kid on the block, ON14 at OZO have very similar vibes. Both are open air, upscale rooftop bars that have an unhindered view of the Indian Ocean. They also require you to drop a pretty penny for an average date night (at least Rs. 4000 for a couple – 2 drinks a person).

View from 41 Sugar

Other places include 41 Sugar and Tsing Tao – both of which overlook the eye-watering greens of central Colombo. You can kick back with a cocktail while you watch other people get in shape.

The Barracuda sunset

Barracuda is the exception here. Their prices are quite low, and their beachfront view is lovely.

Best Places For Breaking The Ice

Bridging the chasm of silence

Bond over conquering this beast

Some couples can’t get enough of each other’s gossip, whereas others may still be trying to broach the great chasm of silence. As a general rule, first daters and shy people may need a bit of distraction or activity to get the pressure off. For example, Ministry of Crab is superbly messy and fun, yet fancy. You just can’t get cracking a crab shell in silent sophistication, and messy or interactive food definitely takes the pressure off eye contact and forced conversation.

The yakitori garden. Be sure that your date is into chicken innards

Others include Nihonbashi’s Yakitori, which offers a fun little menu you can tick off and mix and match, plus you get to watch the grill right in front of you. Shiraz has a little salad bar plus they’re constantly bustling around bringing you skewers of meat which livens things up, while Lagoon requires a bit of decision making and walking about to view the fresh selection of seafood. Other options include more raucous activity and live music, like Qbaa’s loud jazz and dancefloor, and Curve’s bustling purple vibe and band.

Best Places For Privacy

Incognito mode

Al fresco in Havelock Town

If you want a place that isn’t too crowded, and need some proper privacy, Colombo actually has very very few options. Maybe because we’re still in the stage where we feel as though everyone must know we’re having a good time or it doesn’t count. Havelock Place Bungalow is quaint, secluded and pretty – perfect for an intimate chat over dinner, home-made ice cream and wine. Nihonbashi’s private rooms are obviously a good option too, the wine room in particular if you’re in for a bit of proper romance. Glass topped table, lovely wine cellar ambience, and an iPod dock for personalized jams. Shiraz works because it’s generally not too crowded so it’s a bit rare that you’ll bump into other people. Otherwise, just ask for a dark corner behind a fern and hope for the best.

The Basic List (It’s Sortable!)

You can see the scores behind our ultimately subjective decision.

Click Them! (the headers)

SCORE Food Ambience View Price Impress Creativity
ZAZA 10 3 3 1 3 3 2
Nihonbashi Honten 10 3 3 1 3 3 1
Sky Lounge 9 2 3 3 3 3 2
Tintagel 9 2 3 1 3 3 2
7 Degrees 9 2 3 3 3 2 1
Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden 8 2 2 1 2 2 3
Sugar 41 8 2 3 3 2 2 1
Sugar 8 3 2 2 2 1 1
Ministry of Crab 8 3 3 2 3 2 3
Lagoon 8 3 1 2 3 2 2
Chesa Swiss 8 3 2 1 3 3 2
ON14 8 1 2 3 2 3 2
Cloud Cafe 7 1 2 2 3 2 1
Gallery Cafe 7 2 3 2 3 2 2
Havelock Place Bungalow 7 2 3 2 2 2 3
Royal Thai 7 3 1 1 3 2 1
YUMI 7 3 2 1 3 3 1
Santore 7 3 2 2 2 2 3
Shiraz 7 3 2 1 2 2 3
Curve 7 2 2 2 2 2 1
MLH Governor’s Terrace 6 1 3 3 2 2 2
Breeze Bar 6 2 2 2 2 2 1
Qbaa 6 2 2 1 3 2 2
Barracuda 6 2 3 3 1 2 3
London Grill 6 3 2 1 3 3 1
La Trattoria 6 2 2 1 2 1 2
Tsing Tao 6 3 2 2 2 2 2
Spoons 5 2 1 1 3 2 1
Bayleaf 5 3 2 2 2 1 1
Harbour Room 5 1 1 3 1 1 3

Not Enough Detail For You? (Also Sortable!)

Here are some of our more fine-grained scores.

Spot Lighting Dressiness Music Wine LIst Distractions
ZAZA 1 2 1 2 1
Nihonbashi Honten 2 2 1 2 2
Sky Lounge 1 3 2 2 2
Tintagel 1 3 1 0 0
7 Degrees 1 2 2 3 2
Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden 1 1 1 2 3
Sugar 41 2 2 2 3 2
Sugar 2 2 1 2 2
Ministry of Crab 2 2 1 1 3
Lagoon 3 2 1 2 3
Chesa Swiss 2 2 1 2 2
ON14 1 2 1 1 2
Cloud Cafe 1 2 1 3 2
Gallery Cafe 1 2 1 1 1
Havelock Place Bungalow 1 2 1 1 1
Royal Thai 3 3 1 3 1
YUMI 2 3 1 3 2
Santore 2 1 1 2 2
Shiraz 2 1 1 0 3
Curve 1 2 2 3 2
MLH Governor’s Terrace 1 2 2 2 1
Breeze Bar 2 2 2 2 2
Qbaa 2 2 2 3 3
Barracuda 1 1 1 0 2
London Grill 1 3 1 3 1
La Trattoria 2 2 1 2 1
Tsing Tao 2 2 1 1 1
Spoons 3 3 1 3 1
Bayleaf 2 2 1 2 1
Harbour Room 3 1 2 1 1

Disclaimer: We’ve included only bars/restaurants in this index, not coffeeshops or clubs as they don’t really fall under the date night umbrella (unlike Galle Face). Almost every spot on this list is pretty pricey, but we’re cataloging upscale places that are meant to impress. If you want the cheap/free places to take your special someone, try this

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