Reviewed by Zainab Faizal | 7 months ago
Gone are the days where you get crazy excited over the "village experience" to taste "authentic" Sri Lankan food. Move over Nuga Gama, and every other "Gama" claiming to offer you the ultimate Sri Lankan experience - it's time to show y'all who's the real star in town.
Thunapaha is not just about the local spice combination, but rather it has its very own interesting tale that left us all in awe! It's made up of three main chefs of the three ethnicities of Sri Lanka.
Chef Raja is Tamil and has won Best Chef in the Island for three consecutive years for authentic Sri Lankan food! Then there's the Sinhalese chef Ravi, who's known for his hoppers and is classed as the hoppers king (we couldn't agree more!). Finally we've got chef Faras who is Muslim and makes mouth watering kottu and roti! And it's these three dynamic forces who make up Thunapaha.
Since the "paha" in Thunapaha speaks for local entertainment, textures, aroma and tranquility; all what I just mentioned can be experienced and witnessed at Thunapaha! (I'm talking about traditional Kandyan dancing to fire acts and the "yakka" dance to so much more!)
The entrance to this magnificent restaurant looks breathtakingly stunning. It's a long walk over a bridge past the farmers harvest and you can see right ahead the welcoming hosts who'd give you a shot glass of fresh fizzy lemon iced tea. Onto your left you can see a mini boutique of sorts that sell Lankan handicrafts, jewels and clothing mostly targeted at foreigners.
And as you make your way to your right you'd pass the action station of hoppers, the loud bangs of kottu being prepared to the crackle of warm oil cakes being fried!
Thunapaha is a set menu during lunch and buffet by night. But what makes it stand out? It's the fact that it's your very own buffet. You don't have to stand in lines and pray no ones takes all the best items, but you get to control and have your very own buffet station!
Furthermore, with your personalised buffet station - you get 4 meat dishes, 4 vegetables and two rice choices. And the menu changes EVERYDAY. Meaning every single day there will be something brand new!
The dishes obviously arrive with style, in the "Ambula" it's where young girls come carrying the items in groups of three holding a huge cane basket on their heads. It looks really fancy, and right from the start you get an actual feel of Sri Lanka!
Here's what we tried!
Sri Lankan Snacks
Before the buffet was laid out, we were offered a couple of Sri Lankan snacks from spicy fried fish, a mouth watering pollos cutlet, light and crispy bread fruit chips and steaming hot wade.
Hoppers, Pittu, kottu and all things carb
This was a rather simple drink with grenadine syrup and soda, nothing to brag about but felt amazing in this heat.
Lime & Ginger Soda
This was an interesting twist to the average virgin mojito, since instead of the usual plain soda they've added ginger beer giving you the strong after taste of ginger with every sip of the cold drink.
King Coconut & Jaggery Cooler
My favorite drink of the evening, it had such a peculiar taste that it takes time to get used to but you end up falling in love with it. It wasn't ice cold but just the right temperature of the king coconut water blended in with the sweet jaggery giving you such an amazing flavor that's very difficult to put into words, you simply got to experience this beauty.
Desserts came in individual trays with the items, it's like your own little buffet placed right under your nose, (this must be how the kings feasted back in the day).
The perfectly cut squares of coconut toffee had the right consistency; chewy, soft and not too sweet.
Curd and Treacle
The curd up for grabs was so fresh you can feel it with every mouthful. The sweet treacle plus Snow White curd can make all your dreams come true. (It was that good)
Bibikkan (Coconut Cake)
This is the Sri Lankan version of the coconut cake, which was popping! It surprisingly tasted like a date pudding with a lot of nuts and dried fruit along with a slight desiccated coconut after taste. A definite must try!
Not a huge fan, but according to my sub reviewers it was pretty lit, and you should definitely give it a shot.
A plate of seasonal fruits; pomegranate, star fruits, mango, papaya and watermelon
Lunch (set menu style): Rs.1500/- (Live station not available)
It is to note that all cutlery and plating, have been specially designed for Thunapaha, meaning you won't be finding this unique style anywhere else. Furthermore, food was presented in black clay pots, cane baskets for the hoppers to the clay trays and mini dessert cups all made of the specialty clay or wood.
Interior and Ambience
The interior was a mix of contemporary Sri Lanka meets wooden floorboards to a maze of a restaurant, sparking up the cane, clay and wooden vibes into the architect.
The ambience was in fact one of the most calming and interesting experiences, with the lake right behind to the endless greenery in the middle, the low key lighting and the soothing Sri Lankan folk music to the traditional acts on display.
Waiters are very friendly and they are always up and about to help out and provide you insight to your dishes.
Gone are the days where you get crazy excited over the "village experience" to taste "authentic" Sri Lankan food. If you really want a true taste and feel of our beautiful island then it's time to show y'all who's the real star in town.