Dining in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans eat a version of rice and curry for every meal. For breakfast, it could be a single curry eaten with bread or string hoppers (like vermicelli) or egg or plain hoppers (like a thin pancake). For lunch a large amount of rice is accompanied by any amount of curries, usually a fish or meat curry, vegetable curries and probably dhal (lentils) curry. For dinner, the meal could be another curry with hoppers. There is a multitude of spicy snacks, called “short eats” such as buns and pastries stuffed with fish or vegetable mix, chickpeas with grated coconut, fish cutlets, and a kind of deep fried cookie made with lentil flour.

If you get invited to a village home and are lucky enough to be offered rice and curry, the curries will probably have the authentic taste of having been cooked in clay pots over a wood fire. These should be eaten with the fingers of the right hand.

Most mainstream hotels serve a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner which, as well as international dishes, will have a curry corner so you can try the local cuisine.

In Colombo there is a wide choice of specialty restaurants including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, French, Italian, German and Swiss. Some of the best restaurants are located in the first-class hotels.

The prices for food and beverage in restaurants frequented by locals is lower than equivalent eateries in Europe, although will probably cost more than in India or Asian countries (but not Singapore). In the first-class hotels in Colombo and in tourist hotels and restaurants where the food is especially prepared for visitors from abroad, higher prices are charged, often equivalent to European prices. For imported alcoholic beverages prices in bars and restaurants are similar to those in Europe although wines, because of import duty and taxes, may even be higher in price.

Where the menu prices are indicated as ++ , it means that a service charge of 10% plus taxes, usually around 17% will be added to the bill. Where a price is quoted as “nett” it includes the service charge and taxes.