RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nelum Koley (Lotus Leaf) | Sunday Observer

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nelum Koley (Lotus Leaf)

Colombo and its suburbs are witnessing rapid development, with many eating options adding to our culinary choice. Over the past two months a venue selling traditional rice and curry in Boralesgamuwa has been creating raves among foodies. We set off to check out Nelum Koley (The Lotus Leaf) on Saturday afternoon.

The restaurant, located on a road adjacent to the main road, has parking on the left side. The front entrance captures the essence of a village ‘gami gedara’- complete with wooden pillars. As we walked in the aroma of spices was a welcoming fragrance. It was the peak lunch hour, the tables were full and there was a line with at least 20 people standing in que.

Amidst the activity music filled the room, a three piece live band belting out popular Sinhala hits. The inner ambience has rustic walls and a thatched roof. Glass lamps are fastened on wooden pillars. Vases of lotus flowers accentuate the brand name of the establishment.

The lunch service has a good choice of rice and curry. Every guest can choose from three assortments - red rice, yellow rice and steamed white rice. One can select fish, chicken or pork along with four vegetables, from a display of 12 vegetables laid out in clay pots. In addition to the basics, side dishes such as, fried fish, prawns and grilled pork are available.

The food display is brilliant and takes you back to a rural village. Lunch service begins with a staff member placing a clean lotus leaf on a weaved basket like plate (the lotus leaves arrive every morning from Anuradhapura). The rice and the selected seafood/meat is served, and you can select the vegetables. In addition, there are sambols, relishes and deep fried salted chilli. I opted for the pork curry, Shehari chose mutton curry and Shawn was satisfied with the prawns. Choosing in this manner allows you to share with your friends (like the grazing platter in western dining). The pork curry has a lovely consistency with the pork cubes retaining their juicy tenderness. Of the vegetables the lotus root was an absolute delight - not a dish that many know how to prepare. The alu kehel (ash plantain) made to a reduced demi glaze infused with spice and laced with an element of sweetness was another hit. The fact that your lunch is served on a fresh lotus leaf, and being seated on a wooden chair elevates your dining experience. The prawns have been cooked to perfection keeping their ‘orange visual appeal’.

The owner of the establishment Krishantha is a humble man - placing lotus leaves on the basket, working side by side with his staff. He has been in the food service industry for 20 years and realized the need for such a venue. He said, it was his customers who advised him to choose the name ‘Nelum Koley’. The menu has a slight shortcoming, in that, no authentic Sri Lankan desserts are served - which Krishantha promises to add in the future.

Nelum Kole is also open for dinner. Eating at this venue is a fascinating experience for your taste buds and gives you something to talk about throughout the weekend.