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- Sunday, 05 January 2014 10:13 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
The World Gourmet Society Festival 2014 where top chefs around the world have created menus for their guests to discover new culinary landscapes starts on January 20th for four weeks.
And one menu to discover new culinary landscapes was created in Sri Lanka! Executive chef and Television Personality Dharshan Munidasa has created together with Ayu in the Wild safaris the exclusive “A Moving Feast at two restaurants”.
The menu will be offered during the festival in Colombo’s top restaurants Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi.
To book a table please email firstname.lastname@example.org(quoting “Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi” in the subject line).
For more information about the festival and the other participating restaurants and chefs across the world please visit http://www.world-gourmet-society.com/festival
Interview with Chef Dharshan Munidasa:
1. Tesi: Dear Dharshan, some chefs discover their love for food and their gift to prepare ingredients in an outstanding way quite late, for some other it is already clear in their childhood years that they will become a chef. At which point in time did you discover your gift to prepare food far beyond normal standards?
Chef Dharshan: As a college student in the US I found dorm food unpalatable and despised commercially made factory food. I missed food from both my home countries Japan and Sri Lanka and started trying to recreate my favourites. When I moved out of the dorms and started living in an apartment, I realized that if I didn’t cook right, I would die of starvation. So even then I worked out weekly menus and grocery lists and slowly started developing what I should eat, improving on it bit by bit. My apartment eventually became a ‘restaurant’ every Friday for Japanese students looking for food from home. Going to America, being a student and dealing with the lack of good food around me was the biggest reason I started to cook and discover that I could do something with it.
2. Tesi: The most underrated cuisine in the world is...
Chef Dharshan: Yakitori. Food can be different based on country, region and ethnicity; but I also believe that cuisine is a micro genre within that sphere. For example in Japanese Cuisine, sushi, tempura and ramen are micro genres. Yakitori is one such genre, focused on grilled chicken and I think it is really underrated and insulting that they use the word Japanese BBQ to describe it, as it is one of the most amazing ways of cooking and attention to detail, plays a lot in getting the quality beyond the norm. I think Yakitori is really underrated even in Japan.
3. Tesi: What is your favourite dish and why do you love that dish?
Chef Dharshan: Very Tough one! It’s something that we make at Nihonbashi, though not on the menu - Gyu don, made with Japanese A5 Wagyu. Gyu Don is the simplest of Japanese Rice bowls and served as a complete meal. Though it’s made in many places you rarely find it made with good beef, so when it’s made out of Wagyu it becomes amazing, which is why this is probably one of my favourite dishes. A close second is the hamburger we make here – also out of Wagyu.
Then there’s the Tamago Gohan – Tamago is Egg and Gohan is Rice, and actually that’s all it’s made of. You take one of the most amazing eggs from Japan, which is Orange in colour and sweet, add soya sauce, mix it up and pour over hot rice. If the rice is just made and if say, it’s from Niigata Prefecture then it adds a whole new dimension to make this dish even greater than it is.
4. Tesi: A young and talented chef is on the edge of making their decision if they want to turn their talent into a professional career or if they want to develop their skills to cook as a hobby. What would your advice be for them?
Chef Dharshan: Keep an open mind, keep on learning and never think that you know everything, especially taste, textures and aromas, because the more you eat, the more you cook, the more you travel, you will see different ingredients, wines, plates and meet a variety of chefs and sommeliers, who will add to your experience.
They need to gain these experiences and at one point they will know for themselves that they are about to take that leap, but they have to be talented enough to understand that.
5. Tesi: Where do you get your inspiration when you create a menu? Do you follow a method or a routine when you create a menu or is it different every time?
Chef Dharshan: Mostly from Ingredients. I keep looking for fun and amazing ingredients, be it in Fish markets, lagoons, the ocean, anywhere really; and when I find some way of getting my hands on it, I tend to create 2 or 3 dishes around it. On the other hand sometimes a plate would inspire me. It would be so beautiful that I would want it in one of my restaurants on a table, which gets me thinking of what ingredients I have or go in search of one particular ingredient to create a dish for that plate. Thirdly it would be when a guest of the restaurant challenges me to impress them with a menu. Then if we have the creative budgets we can do a lot; also seasons, time, place and occasion would come into play here. Again, not trying to copy someone else’s menu or concept, but be totally brand new.
6. Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Chef Dharshan: It means everything! As human beings we eat 3 meals or more per day and it should always be good food. Not having something good is a wasted opportunity, can be the simplest dish or the most extra ordinary ingredient, good food is something very personal and should be enjoyed every day.
An introduction to A Moving Feast:
A Moving Feast is hosted at two restaurants for one culinary adventure: ‘Gourmet in the Wild’ – a unique culinary safari with a wildlife and heritage flavour across Sri Lanka hosted by the safari specialists Ayu in the Wild Safaris Sri Lanka (www.ayuinthewild.com). The menu aims to showcase the eclectic haute cuisine in two fine dining restaurants in Colombo, setting an interesting contrast to the culinary diversity that would be experienced by a gourmet traveller on the off-beat adventure crafted by Ayu in the Wild deep in the rural wilderness across Sri Lanka. Capitalizing on his Sri Lankan and Japanese dual heritage Chef Dharshan Munidasa has crafted a menu capturing the best of Sri Lanka’s famed seafood and authentic Japanese cuisine fused with local ingredients. As the menu moves across Dharshan’s restaurants Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi, it provides an added element of changing ambiance that complements the different dishes, creating a unique culinary experience.
The World Gourmet Society Festival menu to discover new culinary landscapes:
A dinner in two restaurants
- 6pm to 7:30pm: Sundowners and Starters at Ministry of Crab
- 8pm: Dinner at Nihonbashi
Ministry of Crab
Sundowners & starters at the #1 Restaurant in Sri Lanka - 2013 Edition of the Miele Guide
Clams [Sautéed to perfection in Hot Butter and Soy Sauce]
Steamed Crab Claws [Chilled Steamed Crab Claws served with a Hot Butter Sauce]
Small Island Iced Tea [A local take on the long island iced tea, a combination of Arrack and Iced Tea]
Dinner at the the only Sri Lankan restaurant featured on San Pellegrino’s “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” in 2013
3 pieces assorted Yakitori Sticks [Chicken Skewers grilled on White Charcoal]
Maru Ebi [Tiger Prawns grilled on White Charcoal]
*No name* Sashimi' [A tribute to Tai – Sea Bream – a non wasabi sashimi]
Maguro Carpaccio [Thinly sliced Ruby Red Tuna served with soy sauce and wasabi olive oil]
Secret Tempura (guess the ingredient)
Kakiage [A mixture of julienned vegetables and seafood fried in tempura batter]
Tensabi Temaki [Tempura prawn & wasabi rice wrapped in a crispy Nori cone]
Garlic Rice Maki [Garlic Rice rolled in nori and served on a sizzling rock]
1 pot of Sake
- Nett Per Person. USD 62/-
- A Food Host will be made available for reservations of above 8 pax. Price with Food Host, Nett Per Person – USD 74.00/-
- 10% discount offered to reservations made through World Gourmet Festival Website
- Prior reservation 24 hours ahead is required
- Minimum 2 pax
- The Gourmet Traveller needs to arrange for transfer between the two restaurants set within an approx 10 minute drive from each other.
Known for being at the forefront of Sri Lanka’s culinary scene and for its dedication to serving fresh produce Nihonbashi is a restaurant with an international mindset. Founded 18 years ago by Dharshan Munidasa who is of mixed Japanese and Sri Lankan heritage, the restaurant has not only served consistently excellent authentic Japanese food, but has continued to go from strength to strength. It is for these high standards, and its determination to push the envelope that Nihonbashi has garnered international attention over the past few years, becoming the only Sri Lankan restaurant to have ever made it into San Pellegrino’s list of “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants”, ranking #38 in the 2013 edition, as well as being awarded the best restaurant in Sri Lanka.
In a country where too often restaurants are happy to imitate a pre-existing model, Nihonbashi has always tried to do something a little less conventional. This is evident in its dedication to procuring only the highest quality ingredients, and is committed to using locally sourced ingredients to as great an extent as possible. Nihonbashi is the only restaurant in Sri Lankan that intercepts Japan grade export tuna (European grade tuna not being of sufficient quality) before it is sent to the famous Tsukiji fish market in Japan. As well as ensuring the freshness of ingredients, locally sourcing produce also serves to reduce the restaurant’s carbon print, a fact of which Nihonbashi, as an environmentally responsible restaurant, is proud.
The dining options at Nihonbashi are many, from small plates to 10 Course dinner set menus, and there is something to appeal to everyone. With its seven private dining rooms the restaurant is perfect for business dinners, couples, families with children, and foodies.
For cutting edge cuisine, the freshest ingredients and innovative dishes exclusive to the restaurant, Nihonbashi is one restaurant definitely worth a visit.
Nihonbashi Main Restaurant
11 Galle Face Terrace, Colombo 3, 011-232-3847 Opening Times (daily): 6pm- 10.30 pm (dinner) 12 noon – 2.30pm (lunch)
Nihonbashi at ODEL
Alexander Road, Colombo 7, 011-471-8758 Open 7 days a week from 12 Noon to 8pm http://www.nihonbashi.lk/
Ministry of Crab:
The best of Sri Lanka’s crabs, commonly held to be the best crabs in the world, have for decades been more easily available internationally than in Sri Lanka itself. It was an interest in rectifying this situation, among other things, which brought together Cricketing Legends Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara and Chef Dharshan Munidasa, to form the Ministry of Crab: The first restaurant in Sri Lanka dedicated to serving export quality crabs. Launched in 2011, the restaurant, which is housed in the renovated 400 year old Dutch Hospital, has proved an instant success.
The crabs served at the restaurant really are a breed apart. Not only are these crabs bigger than your average, with the biggest crab served to date weighing an impressive 3.2kgs, but they also have both claws intact, which means they are rich in dark, flavoursome claw meat.
The ingredients used at the Ministry of Crab aren’t just the best, but also the freshest. Sourced and served in Sri Lanka, there is no way these crabs could be served to you as fresh anywhere else in the world. In fact, Ministry of Crab employs a daring no freezers policy, claiming, “the only use we’ve found for freezers is to store our food refuse prior to disposal,” as the co-owners believe that freezing both detracts from the taste and renders redundant the use of fresh produce.
The restaurant’s commitment to showcasing the best of Sri Lanka extends beyond its use of local produce. It is one of few fine dining restaurants in Colombo to serve local dishes, with standout items such as the Pol Sambol, which is scraped on order, and the the Small Island Iced Tea, a local take on the traditional Long Island Iced Tea, which is a combination of Arrack & natural iced tea.
Unique in its dedication to showcasing the best of Sri Lanka’s produce, Ministry of Crab has begun to change the face of Colombo’s culinary scene, and recently received due recognition by being awarded the Number One Restaurant in Sri Lanka in the 2013 Edition of the Miele Guide.
Old Dutch Hospital, Colombo 1, 011-234-2722 Opening Times – Dinner: 6pm-11pm (Daily) Lunch: Noon to 4.00pm (Weekends) (Closed on Poya days)
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#1 Restaurant in Sri Lanka : Ministry of Crab
#2 Restaurant in Sri Lanka : Nihonbashi
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013
Miele Guide 2013 #1 in Sri Lanka : Ministry of Crab
#38 in Asia : Nihonbashi
Biography of Dharshan Munidasa:
Not a formally trained chef, Dharshan Munidasa’s love of food began; he likes to say, on the other side of the equation: eating.
A celebrated chef and restaurateur he is best known for having founded Nihonbashi Japanese Restaurant and Ministry of Crab, two of Sri Lanka’s most successful restaurants, as well as for his role as the host of the popular TV series Culinary Journeys with Dharshan.
Launching his career while in his early twenties with the opening of Nihonbashi, Dharshan has spent the last 19 years ensuring that his restaurants have become the most sought after, not only within the country, but also the region.
The simplicity of Japanese cuisine highlights the quality of the ingredients used, and Dharshan, who is of mixed Japanese and Sri Lankan heritage, is very conscious of the ingredients he uses. He often visits the Negombo fish market to select the best of Sri Lanka’s export quality tuna before it is shipped to the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, a grass roots task which many chef-owners would delegate. From creating original dishes, to sourcing ingredients, it is Dharshan’s hands-on involvement and his meticulous attention to detail that has ensured the consistently high standards of his restaurants.
With his TV series Dharshan has consistently aimed to educate the public about the quality of ingredients, particularly seafood found locally, as he feels that teaching the public is a role which not enough restaurateurs undertake.
It is for his unending commitment to food that Dharshan has been invited to prepare $400 per head Japanese degustation menus in various establishments in India and the Maldives; including the Conrad, Four Seasons, Huvanfenfushi, and various Six Senses properties, all in the Maldives, and most recently for the International Food and Wine Society in India.
Considered an innovator in his field, Dharshan is known to push boundaries and this has resulted in both his restaurants, Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi, respectively obtaining the coveted first and second places in Sri Lanka for outstanding cuisine in the 2013 edition of The Miele Guide (Asia’s first independent restaurant guide). Nihonbashi also has the distinction of being the only Sri Lankan restaurant to have ever made it into San Pellegrino’s list of “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants”, ranking #38 in the 2013 edition, as well as being awarded the best restaurant in Sri Lanka.
Our partner in Sri Lanka: Ayu in the Wild:
Ayu in the Wild safaris, Sri Lanka - Creators of the exciting 'Gourmet in the Wild' series of culinary adventures across the wilderness in Sri Lanka. Specialists in exclusive small-group wildlife safaris, natural history expeditions, photography safaris & Junior Rangers safaris for kids.
To book a table at Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi / Colombo / Sri Lanka please email b
(quoting “Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi” in the subject line).
For more information about the festival and the other participating restaurants and chefs across the world please visit
To apply for a membership at the World Gourmet Society please click: