Bursting at the seams of the banana leaf with chicken stock infused Samba rice, curried chicken, shrimp blanchan, brinjal pahi, ash plantain curry, frikkadel, boiled and deep-fried egg along with a helping of seeni sambol, this is easily the best lamprais you can find in Colombo. True, it's nowhere near the authentic lamprais but it's pretty much a dance of flavours and textures that are meant to be enjoyed in small spoonfuls so you get an equal distribution of each and every element mentioned above.
But mind you, this runs out very fast. We realised that there's a short timeframe in between 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM, that'll allow you to successfully snag a parcel for yourself, so we highly recommend you seize that window of an opportunity.
VOC Cafe (Dutch Burgher Union)
All-meat Lamprais isn't easy to come across, but thankfully, VOC Cafe by DBU does one. In fact, if you're looking for the most authentic version of lamprais, this is the place you should drop by. Smelling like heaven, it's a hot parcel of banana leaf packed to its brim with stock-soaked rice, and has servings of sweet brinjal, blachan, frikkadels, and seeni sambol just for kicks, while the meat mixture is a combination of chicken, beef and pork, marinated in a delicious blend of spices.
Yet another long-standing establishment in town, the Green Cabin whips up a good chicken lamprais. In this one, you can actually taste that leafy goodness and unique aroma contributed by the banana leaf, along with the curries, sambols and rice packed in it. All the key elements of a Lankan lamprais can be spotted in this – frikkadel, blachan, brinjal pahi, ash plantain, a good piece of chicken infused with a chock-full of spices, plus a tasty dollop of seeni sambol. This one works out quite well with a glass of fizzy Coca-Cola.
With a history running all the way back to 1985, Sponge is still among the best places in the city for affordable short eats, sweets and of course, lamprais. The rice here isn't the most flavourful one, but the ingredients on the plate truly make up for that. One taste from that delicious piece of chicken smothered in spices is enough proof of that. With a swirl of sweetness from the brinjal and seeni sambol, while the ash plantain being the mushy and creamy delight, it's practically impossible to say no to this one.
Gihan's Family Restaurant
Gihan's take on lamprais is a bit oily one, but do not let it stop you from wanting to gobble it down. This is actually something that touches the bases of Lankan kaha buth, fried rice and lamprais, making for a yummy combination. The rice is seasoned well, has bits of cashews and prunes, and comes with the biggest piece of chicken (a whole chicken leg) we've ever seen on a lamprais. The ash plantain is fried, not curried, but has a load of spices involved, while the brinjal pahi and seeni sambol are sweet as expected – making the proper balance between spicy and sweet aspects. Have a Coca-Cola on the side, you're going to need it.
Aside from these, Bamboo Room in Hotel Nippon, and Don's Deli do some great lamprais too. In fact, VOC by DBU has the most authentic version of lamprais in Colombo, but from what we've experienced during our recent visits, the standards of them seem to have gone down. As for Don's Deli, they make it only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.