Thomas Keller once said “A recipe has no soul, you the cook must bring soul into the food”. With this is mind finding a venue on a rainy Thursday night we entered Upalis, located at Colombo 7. This restaurant which prides itself by serving “simply Sri Lankan” has created much hype.

The venue is laden with sentimental history of the Dharmadasa family. One can see antique cooking displays and photos upon walking in. David Cruse, is the man behind all the culinary action: he has returned to his motherland after spending three decades in Australia. David is a hands on man-walking into the kitchen, walking back to greet guests and also chat with us. Upali Dharmadasa is a man who is passionate about cooking, and it was he who conceived the idea of transforming their majestic ancestral home into a pulsating restaurant.

The beverage menu had two unique drinks, one was a karapincha special the second one known as “Chandra”. The latter is a creative concoction of king coconut, passion fruit pulp and honey. It tasted like paradise in a glass, wow. The friendly staff brings the extensive menu which has 82 Sri Lankan delights. The menu brings to life lovely spicy renditions from the north and south. I notice a dish not seen anywhere in town Hathmaaluva: a vegetable dish that has seven vegetables, talk about being organic! A fish head curry is also on the menu- maalu oluva.

David kindly recommends the Jaffna crab curry, Halawatha kukul mas (chicken curry) and a northern signature dish Mutton Varruwal. This is served with an assortment of garlic paratha, roast paan (bread) and egg hoppers.

The crab is served in a large ceramic dish, the crabs have been infused with spice and the aroma is so tantalizing. The Halawatha chicken curry is a black curry: similar to the black pepper pork curry.

The Mutton Varruwal is tasty and served on a sizzling platter; I heard it is a hit in Melbourne where Upalis has their overseas operation.

The chefs at Colombo venue are Keerthi, Niroshan, Ranasinghe and Tharanga, who are down to earth guys sustaining our traditional food.

The meal proceeds with humour laden conversation another local attribute that enhances the dining experience. We talk about Christmas memories, political dissent, ways to enjoy tea and the decrease in beautiful Burgher girls!

The restaurant can accommodate 230 guests and also has seven private dining rooms. Biscuit pudding served with vanilla ice cream brings this jubilant meal to an end.

Upalis restaurant is a venue that combines good food with a cozy atmosphere. The mild setback is parking, yet this is effectively managed by a vibrant team of valets.