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Sri Lankan Restaurateurs Revisit Childhood Flavours With London Debut

Kolamba is inspired by the dishes and nostalgia of Colombo

Kolamba will open, serving Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and hoppers in Soho this autumn Kolamba [Official Photo]

A new Sri Lankan restaurant by first-time restaurateurs Eroshan and Aushi Meewella will open in Soho this autumn. Kolamba, which says it will “bring the bold and unapologetic flavours of Sri Lankan home-cooking to the heart of Soho,” will open on Kingly Street. The two owners, who were both born in Colombo, say they want to share the recipes they grew up eating in Sri Lanka in what they call “a contemporary manner.” The duo’s background is in design.

Kolamba, the Sinhalese word for Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, is home to communities of Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor (Muslim), Burger (Dutch), and Malay descent; communities and cuisines Eroshan and Aushi Meewella want to represent at the new restaurant. They will do so with no shortage of nostalgia, aiming to prepare, with a fully Sri Lankan team, “the food they remember from childhood”, using “their extensive network to foster a sense of community.”

The menu will draw from the staff’s family recipes — an extension of the owners’ belief that “the best food you can eat comes from people’s homes.” From the “bites” section, Aunty Nalini’s fish cutlets (arancini-style balls filled with lightly spiced fish and potato) and patties (empanada-like pastries) are both inspired by favourite tea-time snacks.

Coconut will form the base of many of Kolamba’s curries. Among them will be the “judiciously spiced” Kammala’s kalu pol pork and a southern black pepper prawn fry. Elsewhere, a number of vegetarian (and naturally vegan) dishes will be served: Kumar’s pineapple curry and “Ala Thel Dala” — richly spiced potatoes softened and fried with onions and chilli.

Fresh sambols (vegetable salads) will be served as sides; a counterbalance to richness in the main dishes. As well as green sambols, the menu will include pol sambol (chilli-coconut) and the sweeter seeni sambol (caramelised onion with curry leaves, with a little chilli.) Pol roti (coconut flatbread with diced onion and green chilli), string hoppers, hoppers, and turmeric rice will provide bulk.

The space is inspired by The Tropical Modernism movement — that means organic, earthy tones, with lots of plants, aged brickwork, raw timber, and polished cement surfaces. The restaurant is designed in collaboration with Studio Fils and Whitebox London, a contemporary reimagining of what the duo calls the “lush and fertile green lands of the island.”

Kolamba will open at 21 Kingly St Soho, W1B 5QA this autumn; no opening date has been set.

More soon.