The first stop on our Sri Lanka adventure was Colombo – the country’s commercial capital since 1978 – a vibrant mix of colonial architecture and modern life. After a day of sightseeing and riding around the city with our delightful tuk tuk driver, it was time for a well-deserved dinner 😉 Enter – The Ministry of Crab!
Ranked among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2018, the world renown Ministy of Crab definitely does not disappoint. Tucked inside a 400-year-old building known as the Old Dutch Hospital in the heart of Colombo, the restaurant offers exactly what you would expect from its name – a delicious variety of fresh local succulent crabs.
The restaurant was founded by Sri Lankan restauranteur Dharshan Munidase, and two of Sri Lanka’s most famous cricket players – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The restaurant’s philosophy is based around serving fresh Sri Lankan seafood and sourcing the majority of ingredients from the local ecosystem.
I am a big fan of open kitchen layouts because they allow me to watch the process of preparing the food, while also creating an even more authentic dining experience.
The fresh crabs here come in different sizes based on weight, with the smallest one being around 500 grams and the largest one, aptly named Crabzilla, measuring anything over 2 kilos.
When you first walk into the restaurant and look towards the kitchen you can’t miss the giant board overhead. It illuminates the sizes of crab available at the time of your meal. We went for a late dinner, so by the time we arrived there was no more Crabzilla (not that we would have ordered it, but it would have been cool to see!).
We started our dinner with a glass of cold local beer, which I rationalized would go quite well with the spicy crab we had in mind.
The restaurant offers 5 different ways of flavouring its namesake – chilli crab, pepper crab, curry crab, butter crab and the biggest star of the dining experience (pictured below) – the garlic chilli crab.
Celebrating the Japanese side of his heritage, Dharshan Munidase has come up with a delightful combination of Sri Lankan chillies, Japanese soy sauce and Italian olive oil, making the perfect dipping oil 😉
On a total side note, I am obsessed with the amazing flowers native to Sri Lanka – the Heliconia plant, aptly nicknamed – “lobster claw” 🙂 – which you can see in the tall vases in the photo below.