Colombo (Gourmet Chick in Sri-Lanka)

My last post on Sri-Lanka is on Colombo, Sri-Lanka’s capital. Humid, chaotic and dusty, Colombo isn’t the prettiest part of Sri-Lanka but it is probably the most lively and has lots of eating options.

Devilled chicken at Green Cabin Cafe
Green Cabin
This no frills restaurant is apparently an institution in Colombo for inexpensive Sri-Lankan food. The main feature is an outdoor courtyard eating which is surrounded by black mosaic adorned black booths although the courtyard itself is pretty lacking in plants or decoration. There is a lunchtime buffet which is good value if you are particularly hungry but we ordered off the menu. The chicken curry (R160) featured a typically paltry portion of chicken which was eye-wateringly spicy. Alongside curry “Devilled” food is popular in Sri-Lanka and basically entails adding chilli and paprika to any food from eggs to seafood. The devilled chicken (R 325) had a mild hit of chilli and was served with lots of red onion and peppers slow cooked until they were soft . It was good but if I went back to Green Cabin I would order a lampari – curry wrapped in a banana leaf – which seemed to be the most popular dish amongst the other customers at the restaurant.

Pappadoms at Green Cabin Cafe
Details: 453 Galle Road, Colombo, Sri-Lanka (Ph 011 258 8811)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve

The Gallery Cafe
Housed in the famous Sri-Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s old offices Gallery Cafe has the wow factor. If you eat there during the day you can browse the adjoining shop but it is at nighttime that the cafe turns into a swanky restaurant. The restaurant faces out onto an open air courtyard in a typically Bawa focus on nature. The lighting is low but the noise level is not, Gallery Cafe is probably the most lively and bustling place we ate in Sri Lanka. The cocktail menu is extensive and good so it is worthwhile having a drink in the lounge area before sitting down to dinner. The menu features traditional Sri Lankan dishes with a contemporary spin on them along with staple restaurant crowd pleasers such as steak and buttered prawns. To begin, grilled calamari was springy and coated in a light batter.
Jaggery ice-cream at Gallery cafe
From the mains the black pork curry (R895) was tender beneath its black crusted coating and was served with a host of accompaniments. There was an aubergine curry known as brinjal pahi, cucumber raita and sambol. Despite being in Sri Lanka, MTV boyfriend could not resist ordering the lamb cutlets (R2655). The cutlets were grilled to a perfect rose pink and served with fat chips and minted peas. From the dessert menu the jaggery ice-cream was a highlight. Jaggery is a type of unrefined palm sugar which you find a lot in India and Sri Lanka and it was spun like fairy floss on top of vanilla bean ice-cr
Details: 2 Alfred Road House, Colombo, Sri-Lanka (Ph 011 2582 162)
Damage: Pricey

The doorman at Galle Face Hotel
Gourmet Travel Tips
The Galle Face Hotel is a must stay in Sri Lanka just for the amazing atmosphere and history of the place. It is a little worn looking in parts but the huge terrace where you can sit and sip cocktails as the sun goes down more than makes up for any frayed carpet in the rooms. From $USD85.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my post on where to eat in Kandy or you can read about a Sri Lankan cooking course near Galle.


  1. The devilled chicken looks a bit like a Chinese stir-fry. The lampari sounds great too.

  2. I’ve always been fascinated by jaggery. I stare at it in the Indian grocery store but have yet to buy it! Lol. Sounds like you had an amazing trip 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka and try all of the amazing foods. That doorman is adorable.

  4. Well, the lANKAN juggury(made out of unrefined fish tail palm ) is not the same as the juggary one see in India as the juggury you see most often in North India is made out of not fish palm but out of sugarcane. These differences resul in the the good lANKAN juggury getting a slight deep and dark shade of Maroon while the taste is more of strong bitter sweet…try it out with curd if your around lANKA.(you can try the liquid form of it too, mostly with yogurt)

  5. Oh the jaggery ice cream looks divine! I’m intrigued by the fairy floss!

  6. I am fascinated by that jaggery ice cream desert. I’ve always wanted to try jaggery.
    By the way, that looks like one heavily decorated doorman LOL!
    *kisses* HH

  7. Mr Noodles – The devilled chicken seemed to display a real mix of influences but was on every menu in Sri Lanka.

    Helen – I hadn’t come across it before but was equally fascinated by it.

    Mina – His name is KC Kuttan and he has been greeting guests at Galle Face for 70 years – a real legend!

    Ravan – Yes we saw a lot of it being sold by the side of the road with curd. Thanks for the extra info.

    Lex Eat – It was good and who doesn’t love fairy floss.

    Heavenly Housewife – I am not sure where you could get it from in the UK.

  8. Great looking food – I’ve been enjoying your series of Sri Lankan posts. That jaggery icecream looks wonderful.

  9. Dear Cara,

    I just stumbled upon your post about coconut pancakes and checked out some of your other posts as I was going.
    What a lovely picture of the doorman of the Galle Face Hotel. I googled him and sadly found out he just passed away in November, aged 94. I am sure all who met him will remember him as a beautifully colorful person who made the experience of visiting Sri Lanka that much more special.
    Here is an article about him:

    1. Linda – Thanks for your comment and the link. Very sad to hear he passed away but what a great innings to 94. Hope I can do something I love right up until the end like him!

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