Just arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s just nine in the morning, but our rumbling stomachs are clearly of the opinion that they’re still in Belgium. So with our biorhythms still set to 1 o’clock off we go in search of somewhere nice to eat.
At the Ministry of Crab they’re already busy with preparations for lunchtime. It’s usually packed – it’s at the 43rd place on the list of Best Restaurants in Asia, so a reservation’s essential. A hip young local arranges a table for us, and we mooch round the town for an hour or three, discovering all sorts of unexpected places. We change our breakfast plans to lunch…
When we turn up at 11:30 the place looks inviting. The sun’s shining, the tables are beautifully set and the first guests are getting a friendly welcome. Ministry of Crab has an open kitchen down one side and a bar on the other side. There’s lots of wood, muted colours and stylish upholstery. We’re given a nice cool spot by the window, and immediately we’re brought custom-made bibs and our preferred utensils. Knife and fork are optional; they recommend using the sticks, pincers – and fingers 😉
This restaurant knows what it’s about. The menu’s full of crab, fish and seafood. Only crabs over 600 grammes appear on the menu in consideration of sustainability and quality. Another of their trump cards is Chef Darshan Munidasa. “Freshness First” philosophy. By buying sensibly and locally, on the well-known Negombo fish market for example, he manages to avoid the need for frozen produce. There’s no compromise – here, the “Catch of the Day” is dew-fresh…
Although Crabzilla – easily 2kg! – certainly looked spectacular, we chose a small crab of just 600g. The thing was, we wanted to try some of the other dishes on the menu! The crab was more than delicious flavoured with pepper, garlic and oil. The meat was beautifully taken out and there was masses of it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crab with more meat in it – probably not as much, actually.
After that we ordered some black prawns in chilli. Tasty, with just a hint of spiciness.
Then came prawns done the Japanese way, smoked on a skewer over charcoal and served with lemon in a linen sack.
These tasty dishes don’t need anything more than a bit of bread to dip in rich, delicate-flavoured olive oil. Apart from a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, that is… The freshness and subtle tartness of the wine goes perfectly with the silty flavours of the sea.
In short, the honesty, clean and intense flavours and the relaxed atmosphere of ministry of Crab made it a top eating place in Colombo.