Abra-crab-dabra: The Ministry of Crab, Colombo

There is only one dish I’ll get down and dirty for and that is Crab. Bill on the other hand can’t understand all the fuss – but generously indulged me (once again).

The Ministry of Crab – think of it as Crab Mecca. It is a strange joint. There’s a pub next door with a live band blaring pub hits from the 70s filtering not discreetly into The Ministry.

The client mix is mostly middle-aged Westerners and young to middle-aged Asians, mostly Japanese but some Chinese. Whilst a restaurant of this standard should be chi chi it is more chew-chew. Everyone is instagramming or posing.

It’s run by a celebrity chef with a none-too-retiring personality, Dharshan Munidasa. From all the hype you expect him to be called Darshan The Magnificent or Dharshan – Crab God, but like the other “greats” (Kamahl, Elvis, Beyoncé) he humbly goes by just Dharshan.

Son of a Sri-Lankan father and Japanese Mother Dharshan is proudly self taught. Since it seems he created Japanese-Sri Lankan cuisine this is understandable.

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lankan Cricket Legends are his collaborators.

We had the Tiger prawns in soy butter, perfectly cooked, juicy, sweet and the soy butter excessively indulgent but in a delightful way. Bill loved these. They were damn good!

The bread was Japanese-style – so not a good crusty ol’ baguette or sourdough but still good for mopping up the delicious sauces (& after Indian bread – well it’s bread and that’s a plus).

Greedy girl that I am, despite still being in the throes of a dastardly lurgy, a-hacking and a-coughing, not having wanted to eat for 2 days – valiantly we tackled the chili garlic crab. Luscious, silky, oh-so-sweet in a sauce with chunks of garlic, olive oil, and chili – not enough chili for we fire-eaters, – perhaps we should have gone for the straight chili crab. I almost cried when I couldn’t mop up more of the delicious sauce.

Ministry of Crab Old Dutch Hospital Complex, 04 Hospital Street Colombo

We retired afterwards to our hotel bar (The Grand Oriental) and restaurant. It has sensaround views of Colombo Harbour and is mesmerizing.

Just as mesmerizing was the one-man-Saturday-Night-band. A Sri Lankan Sammy Davis Junior reincarnated. He polkaed, rhumbaed, strummed a mean Hawaiian ukulele, piano-accordianed his heart out – all with the trusty help of his keyboard. He sang duets. With himself. Male and Female parts. It was a medley of K-Tel’s  greatest hits from the 70s and 80s.


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