Sri Lanka Part 7/7. This is the first time ever that I was greeted with “Dear Minister…” – it was a sms reminder of my reservation at the Ministry of Crab, the final meal of our Sri Lanka trip before flying back home to Singapore. The place is opened by celebrity chef Dharshan Munidasa, who also operates Japanese restaurant Nihonbashi, and it’s probably not a coincidence that both restaurants are on San Pellegrino’s 2015 Asia’s 50 Best list. Ministry of Crab is housed in a beautifully restored 400-year-old former Dutch hospital, now a heritage building that has become a hip dining and entertainment destination in Colombo.
We were surprised to see Sri Lankan oysters on the menu, so decided to try them for appetisers – they were not the best we have had but was rather decent, and came with tubes of soy and chilli sauce.
The chef’s Japanese leanings is reflected in the clams with butter and Japanese soy sauce, a well executed dish of petit but plumb and juicy clams.
The Black Tiger prawns with garlic pepper were fresh and tasty, and very similar to the Spanish tapas-style gambas. We couldn’t resist ordering some Kade bread (a traditional Sri Lankan wood-fired bread) to mop up the sauce.
The star of the evening obviously was the crab. The restaurant supposedly only uses export quality crab in its dishes, with sizes ranging from 500g up to 1kg and above ‘colossal” and for those hungry ones, there’s the ‘crabzilla’ of over 2kg. We chose a crab just a shade over 1kg; done Italian style with garlic, olive oil and pepperoncini, it offered up firm, succulent and sweet meaty morsels of delights.
The restaurant comes with an open-kitchen where you can watch the chefs cooking with woks over roaring fire, which lends a lovely “wok-hei”smokiness to most of the dishes.
The restaurant is nicely set up; tasteful yet casual. and the outdoor tables overlook the hospital square. Prices are not far from what you would pay at the Jumbo Restaurant in Singapore, but overall it’s well worth the experience – a wonderful end to a very enjoyable week in Sri Lanka.