RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nihonbashi | Sunday Observer


Dharshan Munidasa
Dharshan Munidasa

Japanese cuisine has a rich heritage that can be traced to many centuries. Sustaining this culinary tradition in Colombo is one master chef who has redefined Japanese food in Sri Lanka. Dharshan Munidasa has been cooking for decades and launched Nihonbashi in June 1995. Nihonbashi is named after the bridge in Tokyo that runs above the Nihonbashi River. Nestled along Galle Face Terrace, the restaurant is a culinary oasis waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. As you enter you’re captivated by the open Yakitori garden, amidst bamboo trees.

We sit down and glance at the display that has a plethora of chicken variants. These chicken parts are cooked on a grill, enhancing the flavour. As we await our order a waiter serves sake’ - the distinct beverage of Japan. This is served in a unique manner- the wait staff brings a round tray that has about 20 ceramic sake’ cups of various designs and colours, and you’re supposed to choose your cup. This clearly shows that the dining experience ahead is an interactive session.

The sake’ is served warm and supplements the cool night air. After indulging in the chicken it’s time to head inside. Nihonbashi has delightful aesthetic settings that really manifest the aura of Japan. There are seven private dining rooms built to reflect the Horigutsu style, where you can sit on the floor (on cushions). The venue has an aura of zen-like tranquillity.

First up is a unique creation of Chef Dharshan- karapincha leaves encrusted and fried, tempura style. It was inspiring to see how this ordinary ingredient has been transformed into a culinary piece. This is followed by a platter of Gyuunotataki- seared beef. The beef retains its tender and moist texture. Thereafter a sea food dish- Macuro Menti Maki – tuna and fish roe. Eating seafood like this is a lovely contrast to our regular fish curries. During this time the wait staff brings a glass of dashi soup- consisting of seaweed and seven kinds of dried fish. The soup is clear, and supplements the meal. Again a refreshing contrast from the regular soups one is exposed to in other kinds of European cuisine.

The next dish served is Kani Chachan - lagoon crab. The shell is used as a garnish on the dish. The final item served is a seafood pancake - Okonomiyaki. It is quite a large portion.

The dishes at this venue have a certain “connection” as the food is intended to feed “the soul of the guest”.

Many of us are not familiar with Japanese desserts and Chef Dharshan serves a Black sesame ice cream and a Kanten- seaweed jelly. The ice cream is unique, and leaves a nice after taste. The Kanten is transparent and unleashes a crystal green hue, but would have been more radiant with a garnish.

Chef Dharshan Munidasa has definitely placed Sri Lanka on the global culinary map as Nihonbashi has been recognized as one of the best among Asia’s 50 best restaurants. The dining experience has a way of transcending your culinary perceptions and gives you something to remember, taking you to the “land of the rising sun”. The venue has ample parking.