Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Famous Beach Wadiya, Colombo

The famous Beach Wadiya- you have to cross the railway track to eat your meal!

I read somewhere that if you have not eaten at Beach Wadiya, then you have not been to Sri Lanka! Beach Wadiya is a very well known cheap thrills-no frills seafood place where it has managed to attract many rich, famous, powerful personalities (it's most notable being Princess Anne from England and Richard Branson of Virgin Group) and also the low rung, middle class, average Joes, tourists, travellers, expatriates, and locals alike.

Guestbook index by country; Richard 'Virgin Galactica' Branson was here!

Beach Wadiya has been in operations for over 3 decades where it was founded by owner Olwyn Weerasekara who is now in his 70s! This humble little joint with no decorations, fancy atmosphere (it's next to the beach shore, you can't see anything but you certainly hear the beating of the waves), smartly dressed waiters or even a physical food menu! The best way to describe it will be a 'scrapped off to its bare minimum seafood hut'.

Devilled crabs- Rs.850 (RM24); Garlic grilled prawns- Rs, 525 (RM15); Kangkung for fibres- Rs. 155 (RM4); Kah Yee and I with bibs ready to chomp them crabs down!

There were no menus shown, once seated the waiter brings a plate of raw seafood which the kitchen has for the day (prawns, kangkung, crabs, fish) and suggests cooking method. We opted for the famous devilled crab- everyone raves about it so we obviously had to try!, garlic grilled prawns and kangkung for fibers. The crab was delicious with the not-too-spicy sauce though I wish the crabs are bigger and meatier, the prawns were amazingly fresh so much so you can feel them bouncing in your mouth, while the kangkung is so much thinner and seemed different from Malaysia's version.

Loads of pictures of famous patrons adorning the walls; Beach Wadiya and its raw-rity; With owner Olwyn Weerasekara

Be sure to spend some time looking at the gazillions of photos adorning the walls, you may even spot your favourite cricketer/ corporate figure/ celebrity amongst the Hall of Fame crowd. If you're lucky, you may even get to meet the legendary Olwyn Weerasekara in person having tea. We managed to spend some 5 minutes chatting with him where he gave us some life advice and also a Beach Wadiya t-shirt each as souvenirs! Must be our lucky day :-)

Stamping our marks down too- Kah Yee and Yiling were here!

Be sure to ask if you could pen your thoughts in their guestbook too. We were told that when the tsunami hit, 5 guestbooks were washed away... but what is really amazing is how Olwyn manages to remember who, where and which books that some comments were penned down (he's got a few favourites) and some people even wrote stories, attached currencies and even religious items in these thick books!

I've finally got all the places I want to eat at covered, so now I can leave Sri Lanka with joy and satisfaction. See ya'll at the other side of the globe soon.

* Prices are excluding 10% service charge and 12% VAT

Beach Wadiya

2, Station Avenue,
Colombo 06 (Wellawatta),
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94112588568

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. Please don't sue me, I don't have money. Kthxbye.]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tintagel, Colombo


Tintagel (Tin-ta-jel) is one of my favourite places to be in Colombo. If it is any coincidence, this historical mansion turned boutique hotel is also associated with my favourite gallery/ art brand 'Paradise Road' and (again, my favourite) The Gallery Cafe. If you can have 3 favourites in one sentence, I think hell yeah this deserves a little bit more photos than the usual posting!

Dining at The Courtyard; Paradise Road Hot Chocolate- Rs. 450 (RM12)

Located at Rosmead Place within the Cinnamon Gardens postcode which is regarded as the elite neighbourhood where embassies, government offices, and big colonial mansions scatters around, Tintagel stands tall and beautiful among all. With a history dating back to 1930 where it was the residence of Dr. Lucien de Zilwa, an eminent Sri Lankan physician, gynaecologist and writer. In the following decade, it was made the British military quarters, and later sold to Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike for his son Solomon West Ridgeway (S.W.R.D.). It is this point that the mansion became known as the Bandaranaike's Residence where S.W.R.D. became Prime Minister in 1956 and assassinated at the verandah of the mansion. His widow, Srimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first female Prime Minister and longest serving PM in Sri Lanka. She lived in the mansion till her demise in 2000. Subsequently, the following generations of Bandaranaike also became political leaders in the island.

A touch of 'dark' luxury in private dining

In 2005, Tintagel is leased to Udashanth Fernando, designer and proprietor of the Paradise Road group and it has since been turned into a luxurious, unique historical boutique hotel. Every little item put into Tintagel can be traceable to the items sold at the Paradise Road galleries but in a very subtle way... you will almost think that it is a coincidence. The mansion is huge, housing a beautiful courtyard for dining, a dark luxurious 'The Private Dining Room', a flawless glass-like swimming pool, a tastefully decorated library, the distinct Red Bar, the lobby which smells of fresh beautiful small white flowers, and above all 10 exclusive suites.

The scent of fresh flowers everywhere!

A room for the bookworms, The Library

Beautiful glass-like flawless long narrow pool

My favourite part of the house would be the swimming pool. It was love at first sight when I saw it during my maiden visit and I knew I have to show this to my visitors from Malaysia! It is too beautiful to even dip your foot in, just so that the glass-like illusion is not spoilt!

Tintagel Executive and Superior Suites from USD200+ onwards

I had the privilege to be shown some rooms and they are amazing- tastefully decorated with a special view for every room. I was told that rates starts at USD200 onwards and you can do the reservation here. If you're willing to splurge USD200 for a room, I would strongly suggest Tintagel as it is more private yet warm than the big hotel chains.

Inside 'The Red Bar'

Unfortunately, Tintagel does not have a lliquor license due to historical importance and status of the building, however you can BYOB and pay for the corkage. A friend of mine asked me, "I wonder what they serve in the bar if they don't have alcohol?" Virgin pina colada, virgin bloody mary, virgin cosmopolitan, virgin margarita, virgin mojito.... maybe??!

Fresh strawberries and cream- Rs. 625 (RM17); Roast pork on a bed of potato mash with sauteed vegetables, apple mousse and mustard sauce- Rs. 995 (RM27); King Coconut- Rs. 90 (RM2)

I was actually pretty happy with the food on my first visit as I wasn't expecting much (hotel food usually looks better than taste). I did not hesitate to bring my family here for our CNY reunion dinner + Eiling's birthday, I'm sure they will love it too!

Complimentary bread; Spicy Sri Lankan crab soup- Rs. 645 (RM18); Avocado, Prawn and Lobster salad- Rs. 835 (RM23); Fettuccine with lobster, prawns, crabs and spicy sauce- Rs. 1,485 (RM41)

Sri Lankan pork curry and rice; Pan fried red snapper with rocket pesto risotto and roasted cashew nut- Rs. 1,795 (RM49); Crispy duck with apricot and plum sauce, stir fried beans and roasted pistachios- Rs. 2,145 (RM59); Steamed fish; Braised pork belly topped with poached egg- Rs. 1,585 (RM44)

That said, we had a very different and western dinner this year and perhaps also very memorable as we have not sat together as a family for a meal at least in the past year!

The Tintagel High Tea- Rs. 1,750/person (RM48): Finger sandwiches; Selection of savoury and sweet pastries; Plain and fruit scones with strawberry preserve and fresh cream; Slice of 'cake of the day'; Tea/Coffee

Ceylon Tea- Have your cup and drink it too

When my friend came down for a week-long visit, this warrants a 3rd visit to Tintagel in a month! We had the high tea menu where it came in 3-tiers of pastries, cakes and sandwiches. I like the scones but felt slightly below average for the finger sandwiches and just so-so for the cakes. But I suppose the ambiance more than makes up for it if not for the super annoying and deadly mosquitoes in the evening!

Happy Chinese New Year from the Lims!

I hope everyone had a very good Chinese New Year, I'm finally coming home this Friday. But before that, I will be flying to Maldives tonight to enjoy my well deserved ho-ho-holiday (the beginning of ticking off my 2011 Travel Resolutions).

* Prices are excluding 10% service charge and 13% VAT.

If you like this, you may also be interested in:
Yiling - The Gallery Cafe
Eiling - The Gallery Cafe
Eiling - Tintagel

65, Rosmead Place,
Colombo 07,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +944602121 or +944602060

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. Please don't sue me, I don't have money. Kthxbye.]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chesa Swiss, Colombo

Chesa Swiss

Chesa Swiss is perhaps (in my humble opinion) one of the best Swiss/ Western restaurant in Colombo and Sri Lanka. I made my maiden visit at the end of January and since then I revisited it once every week! It's layout and setting is homely, nothing as fancy as some of the so-called fine dining hotel restaurants but attracts a steady regular expat crowd and some well to do locals. The kitchen is helmed by Swiss chef Michael and well managed by the beautiful Catherine from Paris.

Having been there 4 times in a month and different dishes every visit allowed me to sample a fair bit of what Chesa Swiss has to offer.

6-course tasting menu- Rs. 3,250 (RM89): Duck liver mousse on red onion marmalade with toasted brioche; Complimentary fried fish; Mushroom consomme with port wine; Mixed seafood risotto in lobster sauce

Tournedos of beef fillet served on asparagus crepe & green pepper corn sauce; Lime sorbet with gin; Fresh strawberries with cream

White chocolate mousse & fresh strawberries Millefeuille; Complimentary starter

During my first visit, I tried the 6-course tasting menu (the next day after I had the 24-dish degustation from Tao). I really liked all 6-courses with special memories for the lime sorbet (though it was meant for pallate cleansing) and steak done medium rare, tender and juicy just the way I love it. I didn't expect to have steak in Sri Lanka but since I had the ball rolling on this one, I just craved for a piece of steak every now and then!

Raclette- Rs. 980 (RM27); Shrimp cocktail with melon and toast- Rs. 580 (RM16)

Grilled duck breast on orange & pepper sauce- Rs. 1,600 (RM44); Pork tenderloin- Rs. 980 (RM27)

Fillet of garoupa 'Grandmother style'- Rs. 850 (RM23); Lamb rib chops- Rs. 2,200 (RM61)

The second visit was with my family where I also brought them here for our 1st day of CNY dinner. I was again craving for steak but my dad would glare at me the whole night if I did since he doesn't take beef due to religion circumstances, I had duck instead also done medium rare. I like it as well as it and I think the rest of my family likes their own dishes as well since there were no complains.

Traditional Swiss cheese fondue with white wine, flavoured with Kirsch- Rs. 1,980 (RM54)

Carpaccio of beef fillet with parmesan and rocket salad- Rs. 850 (RM23); Mussels with white wine- Rs. 1,850 (RM51)

The third visit was with a visiting friend of mine all the way from Ipoh! Though it was only 2 of us, we decided to do the expected- pig out! This time, we tried the cheese fondue (it's my first cheese fondue by the way), beef carpaccio and mussels for starters and had the 6-course tasting menu again as I raved to her about the lime sorbet and steak. My friend loves the duck liver pate and steak but unfortunately the seafood risotto was a miss that night as it was too moist and lacked texture.

Beef tenderloin (150g)- Rs. 2,300 (RM63)

Finally, since it is going to be my final week in Sri Lanka, I decided to pay a visit again to Chesa Swiss and had a 150g tenderloin myself! The steak never failed me and there is nothing more satisfying than having a piece of juicy medium rare steak on your own......

Chesa Swiss
3, Deal Place,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +940112573433

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. Please don't sue me, I don't have money. Kthxbye.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hotels Along Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka

As with any beachfronts and coastal towns, you'll find many guesthouses, hotels (the posh & the unposh), budget hostels, villas and accommodation lining along the streets. The question is always "How much does it cost, and what's in it?"

Villa Araliya


I had initially booked a 2-night stay at Villa Araliya (apartment unit - 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms, living area, and kitchen) for USD336 (RM1,019) after seeing that it looks pretty nice and decent and would make a good place for a family getaway from Colombo when they were down to visit during Chinese New Year. The location was a little hard to find as it's not exactly on the main street. After we checked in and nearly got ourselves settled, mom suddenly stomped back to the apartment furiously. Apparently, she got into a row with (whom I suspect would be the owner) about some cups in the apartment. You see, I think it's only fair and common that if you have kitchen facilities, basic cooking utensils or at least cups be provided. The owner said that if we were only staying for 2 days then none of the facilities will be provided (even cups!) unless if our stay was for at least a month! To cut the long story short, he refuted that if we were so fussy about it, then move out!

That's a very rude way to treat your guests and I think giving some cups for use for 2 days is not life threatening or cost you in any way.... so we moved out and got my refund. Well I guess I am not surprised at this behaviour as I've also read similar aggressive and rude attitude by the owners in Tripadvisor.

As guests who are paying (it's not cheap anyways), I don't think we should be treated rudely and especially if it wasn't even an overboard/ impossible request. To save the trouble, I won't even bother giving you the address.

Goldi Sands Hotel

Goldi Sands Hotel

We found Goldi Sands Hotel somewhere 50m down the road after moving out from Villa Araliya. They were fully booked but some cancellations gave us 2 rooms for a night at USD110 (double) and USD125 (triple). It is more expensive on per night basis compared to Villa Araliya but at least the staff were more hospitable and the resort is smack infront of the beach.

Goldi Sands Hotel

I think the rooms are pretty nice and the view was great too, accessibility to the pool and beach were just 5 mins walk away. Our only grudge perhaps is the stuffy bathroom which doesn't have much ventilation.

Lunch: King Coconut; Tender Pork Scaloppine- Rs. 600 (RM16); French Onion Soup- Rs. 200 (RM5); Baked Crab- Rs. 675 (RM18); Sri Lankan rice and curry- Rs. 450 (RM12); Special Fried Noodles- Rs. 450 (RM12)

Dinner: Deluxe Seafood Platter- Rs. 1,300 (RM36); Goldi Fried Rice- Rs. 550 (RM15); Mixed Grill American- Rs. 800 (RM22); Magic show to entertain the guests

Meals weren't great and the restaurant didn't look that appealing but when you have no choice, I suppose anything goes... the breakfast spread was a little better though.

Goldi Sands Hotel
Ethukale, Negombo,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94332279021

Jetwing Blue Negombo

Jetwing Blue Negombo

While having our stroll down the beach, we spotted a nicer looking resort just next to our hotel and decided to check it out. It was the Jetwing Blue hotel and I know that the Jetwing group of hotels and resorts are pretty expensive. We asked the reception how much a night would cost and considered staying here the next night since we could not secure another night at Goldi Sands. It was at a staggering USD300+! Well no wonder, things are always nicer at the other side of the beach ;-p

Jetwing Blue
Ethukale, Negombo,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94312279003 or +94773421755

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Negombo, Sri Lanka in pictures

My favourite picture

Negombo is a coastal town about 40km north of Colombo. For the unfamiliar, Negombo is also where the Bandaranaike International Airport (Sri Lanka's main airport and point of entry/ exit) is located. Although it is just a mere 40km away, the unsophisticated road conditions (trunk roads equivalent) makes traveling to Negombo from Colombo city not as near as the distance seems to suggest, taking at least a 45 mins - 1 hour drive depending on traffic.

There are many tourists here, most choose Negombo as an overnight stopover especially if their flights depart early in the morning or arrive late at night. The beach is not impressive (not sure if it's because of the rain earlier) and has a steep shore, not exactly the ultimate beach paradise but does makes a good enough day trip of soaking in sea breeze and sun.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gandhara Crafts, Colombo

Gandhara Crafts @ Stratford Avenue

When I visited Cafe Che in my first month in Colombo, I also stumbled upon a fantastic arts gallery located just a few doors away. I am not an avid fan of viewing antique furniture or excited over the little artifacts, neither am I a person who will purposely visit a gallery because it's 'interesting' to do so.

The building itself is an art!

But, as the saying goes "Never say never". My (almost) 3 months here has cultivated an interest in these things which I once thought to be boring and extremely ancient objects. Perhaps it's the free time that I have wandering the city alone that trigger this sudden interest. Gandhara Crafts is one of those I do not mind visiting again and again just to see 'what's new' at the store.

It houses an art gallery, antique furniture, artifacts, household deco items, coffee table books, and small knick knack souvenirs.

Arts gallery
I fell in love with this piece of grayscale junior monks painting. It's at a pricetag of Rs. 89,500 (RM2,500)! Should I or should I not??

Colourful cotton bedding/ pillow/ table sheets
Sri Lanka is a major exporter of garments and textiles. Their cotton are needless to say one of the bestest quality!

Household deco items
Candle holders never look so interesting!

Buddha artifacts and deco items

Household deco items

Even things from the sea....
Everyone can be Dora the Explorer!

There's just too many rooms to explore!

Toys made out of fabric

Say hello to the new proud owner of this painting!

Now.... where do I find a house to put this..........

Gandhara Crafts
28, Stratford Avenue,
Kirulapane, Colombo 06,
Sri Lanka.
Tel: +94112596329
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