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A culinary homecoming

epicure 28 February 2013
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Sri Lankan Chef Dharshan Munidasa stakes claim on what is rightfully his homeland’s national produce—the Sri Lankan crab.

There is sometimes irony in truth, but I was caught in a place between grief and joy when I first stepped foot into the barely year-old Ministry of Crab restaurant (Old Dutch Hospital, Colombo. Tel: +94 11 234 2722 www.ministryofcrab.com), only to discover this was the first Sri Lankan crab restaurant Sri Lanka ever had in its history. To know that the land of crabs never had a proper shrine is akin to going to Dijon and finding there was no ounce of good mustard or that the Italians never knew how to make pasta—a sort of betrayal for any self-respecting food lover.

Ministry of Crab made its much overdue debut at the lovingly restored 400-year Old Dutch Hospital at Colombo Fort in Colombo city in December 2011 . The preservation and transformation of the heritage architecture and grounds of the Old Dutch Hospital into a clutch of highbrow Sri Lankan fashion brands (Barefoot and Paradise Road), cafes and restaurant has turned it into the go-to lifestyle hub in Colombo. This project took an impressive whirlwind time to complete, and the Sri Lankans proudly point to it as a symbol of what is yet to come: the bright glittering future in this post civil war era, a future that has lured a bevy of luxury hotels from Shangri-La, Sheraton, Anantara to plant outposts on their tear-drop shaped island.

At this beacon of hope, the Ministry of Crab is the crowning jewel. To most Sri Lankans, it’s a must-visit—even if it is just to gawk at from the outside—for a simple reason: the two silent, but very high profile, shareholders, top national cricketeers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. From the get go, the duo’s stardom has naturally attracted attention from the cricket-obsessed locals.

Excerpt from the March 2013 issue of epicure.

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