Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

“A Culinary Homecoming – Celebration of Sri Lankan Lagoon Crab”

Jointly owned by cricket legends Mahela Jayawardane and Kumar Sangakkara, and culinary star Dharshan Munidasa, Ministry of Crab was set up for success right from its inception. All three celebrities are known to frequent the restaurant, and, apart from cooking up some of the most delicious crab we’ve ever tasted, a chance to mingle with the big names serves as an added highlight for both cricket and food fans alike.

Ministry of Crab, Inside Tables
Ministry of Crab, Inside Tables

The Old Dutch Hospital, recently renovated and now home to some of Colombo’s top entertainment and shopping outlets, provides elegant lodging to the warm environs of Ministry of Crab. Natural wood, mellow hues and potted ‘crab claw’ plants make for an affable setting. Heading the space, the open kitchen supplies live entertainment as guests observe the bustling hive of activity that goes into readying their meals.

Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Busy Kitchen of Ministry of Crab

The place is abuzz with a lively horde when we arrive, and so we take a seat at the bar and appreciate the joy a tasty meal elicits from the crowd. Sipping on a flute of bubbly (comprehensive booze list by the way), we contemplate the pure pleasure that food can engender and eagerly anticipate our own meal to come.

Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
A Bubbly Beginnning

Seated on the covered patio outside, we note how the indoor and outdoor environments seem to flawlessly blend into one. Large doors and open windows give an airy feel, and allow diners to soak up the al fresco atmosphere from both locations.

Ministry of Crab, Colombo, crab restaurant
Ministry of Crab, Patio Tables

Clams, seasoned with a simple Japanese preparation of butter and soy sauce, make a superb introduction to the menu.  They’re simply delicious. Even without the clam, we find the broth so flavoursome that we continue slurping on the shells alone. “This is a killer,” hubby declares as he sucks the juice from the first clam. “It’s superb, pretty amazing, excellent.” Not one to reserve judgment, he continues, “It’s an invitation from the ocean. People have to come here for this one.” Buttery. Salty. Yum.Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

We follow up with a Small Island Iced Tea – a blend of chef’s signature ice tea drink made with soda, arrack and muddled with lime. It’s deceivingly innocent – don’t stand up too quickly, this is a sneaker-upperer.Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Giant Fresh Water Prawns are cooked in olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Fat slices of wood-fired soft white bread are served in enormous quantities and perfect for soaking up the remaining oil. I may never eat olive oil with balsamic again – I might just insist the chili, garlic (and giant prawns!) are added to it instead. Of note is a Japanese peculiarity of always placing the prawns facing left. Apparently it mimics the right-handed movement of drawing the symbol for fish, which usually has the head to the left. (Give it a try! If you’re right-handed, which direction do you draw your fish?)

Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Giant Fresh water Prawn

Dishes have been fab so far (and with all that bread we’ve just devoured our stomachs are filling quickly), but we cannot leave Ministry of Crab without trying their namesake: Fresh Sri Lankan Lagoon Crab. Prepared in one of four ways: chili, pepper, garlic or curry, we might have to return to try the tetralogy.

Black Pepper Crab is a decadent giant bowl of crab glistening in the reflection of the overhead lights. Black pepper dates long back in Sri Lanka’s history as the king of spice, and in this dish it is hand crushed on a traditional miras gala as the base of the sauce in this masterpiece. It’s like no crab I’ve ever taste – clean, superbly fresh and crisp. The whole pepper grains are clearly evident, making us want to suck the shell (which seems to be a theme of this visit).Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

As mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of drink choices in the restaurant and hubby now has an Australian white from Banrock Station in his hand, and I’m onto a glass of Italian Torresella Refosco from Veneto 2012. Both are easy drinking, matching well with food, and also do quite well on their own.

Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Torresella Red Wine

While on the topic of drinks it’s worth noting that mineral water is served in carafes. There are no plastic bottles (no soft drinks either) here as water is transported in reusable 20 litre containers. So not only are the food ingredients sourced locally, so too is the water. Ministry of Crab gets a big Yum’s Up for its sustainability efforts.

With some of the most delicious crab we’ve ever tasted, superbly fresh seafood, a wide drinks list, a sincere green effort, and buzzing vibe, Ministry of Crab is well worth planning ahead for. Reservations are highly recommended, so be sure to make your dining reservation at the same time you plan your Sri Lanka trip.

Reasons to visit: Fresh Sri Lankan Lagoon Crab – must order!

Ministry of Crab
4 Old Dutch Hospital
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
+94 112 342 722
[email protected]
[email protected]

Dinner: 6pm – 11pm daily
Lunch: Noon – 3pm weekends
Closed on Poya Days

*Reservations are a must.

Parking lot at the rear of the Old Dutch Hospital

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  1. OMG!!!! The claws!!! Such beauty!!!

  2. Fascinating concept! Although I do really like crab, I have never had it in its actual form like this. A few local grocery stores make food on their premises, and one of the things they make is crab salad. It has what they call imitation crab me (perhaps you can tell me what this is, if you don’t mind), peas, carrots and a light dressing. It is pretty tasty and I do like it. But crab with the shell and claws I have never eaten. Neither have I had lobster, but I once tried a piece of fresh lobster that my friend shared with me at a restaurant during lobster festival when she ordered it.

    If I ever did order it I would watch what others do as far as how to get at the claw meat, etc., because it is all new to me. 🙂

    • Imitation crab is often made of mushed fish flesh, starch, sugar and colouring – and depending on the brand any number of chemicals. The real stuff is much better! Now Linda, you surprise me – I thought lobster was a bit of a national dish in Canada. I suppose it’s more likely to be eaten around the coastlines. Given the opportunity to try it… you should jump on it. It’s quite a bit of messy fun trying to get every last bit out of the shell. 🙂

    • Hi Monica, one of the reasons I have never tried lobster, as silly as this may seem, is because I just don’t know how to eat it! It would be different if it was presented without the claws and tail, etc., as all I would have to do is stick in a fork and eat it (such as shrimp without the shell). I am a little shy and sometimes uncomfortable trying something new, especially if I feel that if I don’t like it I am stuck with it and still have to pay for it. Since my budget is so, so tight these days I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in over 3 months. 🙁 Lobster is readily available here in Montreal, especially during the peak season, you can find “lobster festival” signs in restaurant windows, on their menus and publicized on television and in newspapers. I think most of the lobster we would get here would be from the Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, especially, most likely), but perhaps from Maine, U.S., too, not sure, though. Thanks so much for explaining to me what imitation crab is! I bet the real crab is much better and far superior! 🙂

  3. I wonder what is the price range? Sure looks like an interesting place to me.

  4. crazy for crustaceans! a reason to claw our way to colombo someday! 🙂

  5. Where better to have Sri Lankan crabs that in Sri Lanka, right? They look clawing-ly good! ;D I like the name…Ministry of Crab…..sounds like they know exactly what they’re doing! 😀

  6. Good to see a hospital put to good use.
    Never eaten crab meat, well I don’t recall.
    The Ice Tea drink sounds interesting.

    • The ice tea drink was far better than any soft drink (especially with a splash of arrack in the mix 😉

  7. Mud crabs are the best.
    Meatier, juicer than brown crabs.

  8. OMG, my knees go weak at the sight of crabs, Monica! I wanna dig in right now! xoxo

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