Review: Colombo Restaurant in Munich proved to be the best introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine. We never thought we would dig into food from the land of elephants, beaches, and ancient Buddhist ruins for the first time in the heart of Bavaria, but we’re so glad we did.
Location and Ambience
Located right across the famous Prince Regent Theater in Munich, Colombo is housed inside a beautiful heritage building. The interiors are dominated by a row of cylindrical golden lamps on the ceiling, and an open bar with an impressive wine collection to the right. There is limited seating space, so it’s better to reserve a table beforehand. The atmosphere is overall elegant and luxurious without being overbearing.
Colombo opened six months ago (late 2018) but it’s already very popular with theatre goers in the evenings. However, you’re likely to have a quieter time there at lunch. We were thus able to chat up the affable host and Ravneet, the proprietor. The family earlier operated an Italian restaurant in the same space. Colombo is currently the only Sri Lankan restaurant in Munich as far as we know.
The menu at Colombo is largely gluten-free, and most of the gravies are coconut milk-based. There are great options for meat eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans. The dishes in general are light on the stomach, and on the spicier side, but that can be customized according to your tastes. The presentation is impeccable, and the flavours authentically Sri Lankan, which is not surprising given that the cooks have been imported from five star hotels in the Asian island nation.
Contrary to some perceptions, Sri Lankan cuisine is quite different from Indian food, although there might be some superfluous resemblance. Rice dominates the main courses and the combo plates (available as both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) are an ideal way of tasting a variety of curries. However, dessert is a major highlight at Colombo, and we were told that many patrons drop in simply to have the Watelappan, a kind of jaggery pudding topped with cashews.
Starters: Vadai | Veg spring roll
The vadais (fried lentil cookies) and spring rolls rested upon a bed of delicious salad. The former was mild in taste and satisfyingly crispy, while the spring rolls had a stuffing quite unlike their Chinese counterparts: more of tubers and roots like carrots and potatoes. The cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce were drenched in avocado dressing, and tasted refreshingly fresh.
Mains: Vegetarian Combo| Kottu roti | Hoppers | Pol roti
The vegetarian combo consisted of three scrumptious curries, spinach dal, red rice and regular rice, fried papad, and creamy yoghurt. The dal differed from its Indian cousin in that it had a coconut milk base. The three vegetable preparations featured aubergines, chickpeas, and pumpkin. Generously seasoned with curry leaves, the dishes were fresh, light, and flavourful. They tasted fantastic with both kinds of rice, as well as the pol roti that our host felt we ought to try.
Pol rotis are thick breakfast rotis made of flour, minced coconut, and lots of onions, and they are so good that you can eat them without any accompaniment. Ours came with tomato and onion sambal (a little spicy). We also wanted to try the hoppers and kottu roti. The former was available in two varieties: plain or with an egg filling. We tried both, after sprinkling them with coconut sambal as advised. The egg hopper was extremely filling, and could be a meal on its own.
The kottu roti features in South Indian cuisine as well, but the one we tasted at Colombo exceeded all expectations. Chopped up parathas had been cooked along with spring onions, carrots, and other vegetables in their own juices and seasoned with subtle spices. The result was a complete meal, somewhat akin to a vegetable pad thai.
Accompanying chutneys and dips are often the star of an Asian meal, and it was no different with the Sri Lankan meal we had at Colombo. We were served a tomato dip, a mint chutney, and a sweet mango dip with the papad, and all three were fantastic.
Dessert: Watelappan | Mango mousse
As we mentioned earlier, Munich’s citizens are already in love with Colombo’s watelappan, a Sri Lankan pudding made of jaggery, coconut milk, eggs, and cardamom. The texture is denser than a creme brulee, and thanks to the copious sprinkling of roasted cashews on top, every bite is a fusion of softness and crunch. It is certainly a treat to remember. The mango mousse is comforting, with a creamy base, and tons of chopped mangoes on top. Be warned, both desserts are all too easy to polish off on your own despite the generous portion size!
Drinks: Coconut, passion fruit, and mango spritzer | Sri Lanka cocktail
Colombo has a great wine list but the coconut, passion fruit, and mango spritzer felt like a good choice at lunch time. It was recommended to us by the host, and we loved the blend of flavours in this bright orange drink. Similar in taste and appearance but enhanced by the potent notes of Ceylon arrack, the Colombo tropical fruit punch was also very refreshing. Arrack is a local spirit from Sri Lanka, prepared from the fermented sap of coconut flowers.
Service and Cost
The host is very knowledgeable, and if you are so inclined, you can learn a lot about Sri Lankan cuisine and the restaurant’s history. Chances are, you might meet the owner as well. The staff is very efficient, and the ambience relaxing. As for the cost, you will pay around 30-40 euros per person for a meal with drinks. The meat main courses are priced at around 15 euros, while the combo plate is upwards of 20 euros. You can get a beer from 3 euros onwards.
About Colombo Restaurant
Address: Prinzregentenplatz 23, Munich
Hours: Daily 11:30-14:30 & 17:30-24:00
Contact: 089-30 70 10 52 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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