What we had
A truly Sri Lankan gastronomical adventure
It’s not every day that life hits you with a culinary experience that has you rethinking your whole identity. Royal Code is one of Colombo’s newest restaurants and we were excited to try out some new food and maybe even take in the scenery of the sea while we were at it. However, nothing prepared us for the paradigm-shifting culinary experience that we were plunged into.
The brainchild of Chef Sudeera Bandara, Royal Code is an experiential collection of Sri Lankan cuisine that is a result of extensive research into the true history of Sri Lankan food. According to Chef Sudeera, Sri Lankan cuisine is more than the overly romanticised gamé food that is very popular. He explores the culinary traditions of people all the way back to Homo sapiens balangodensis (Balangoda Man) to the feasts that graced the tables of the ancient kings and the indigenous veddas they disinherited, to the post-colonial melting pot of food and culture. The food we experienced whispered to us of the lives, jubilations, and passions of our ancestors.
Basil, naaran, and pineapple juice – Rs. 1450
It was a hot day and this mix of citrusy sweetness and herbaceous complexity really hit the spot. The drink is somehow rich and creamy (I was told it’s some sorcery that had to do with the pineapples and honey added to it) while also being light and refreshing. This drink was nothing short of alchemy.
Smoked mix seafood – Rs. 1800 (5/5)
Our meal started with a recipe gifted from the veddas presented in a truly spectacular fine-dining fashion. An utterly beautiful dish, the smoked fish imparted a truly unique flavour when mixed with the local spices. The complexity of its flavours was perfectly balanced with a light and fresh dressing that accompanied the bold flavours of the fish with a sweet and savoury breath of life.
Raw star-bean salad – Rs. 1200 (5/5)
I can be a rather picky eater and star beans (dambala) are usually not on my list of favourite vegetables. However, I was greeted with yet another beautiful dish with a touch of molecular gastronomy that I had to give it a try. Once again, Chef Sudeera worked his magic to elevate this humble vegetable into something spectacular. The only way I could explain it is that the dish was singing. The fresh and sweet citrus flavours of the dish along with the delicate vegetables ensured the plate left our table empty and clean.
Smoked pork baduma – Rs. 4300 (5/5)
Dry-aged meat always seemed to be a very western way of cooking but I was enlightened to its existence in Sri Lankan cooking in the best way possible. Another dish from the veddas, this hearty, and simply magical dish was bursting with robust flavours that left me in silent wonder for a good few minutes. A full-bodied pork curry cooked in a banana skin accompanied by fresh coconut chutney and sweet potatoes – this is the kind of dish that will find its way into my dreams.
Lamprais – Rs. 5200 (5/5)
This is not your grandmother’s lamprais. First of all, the portion was massive but that is the least impressive part of this. Chef Sudeera has again ventured deep into the lore and history of this iconic post-colonial dish to bring one of its most authentic iterations. A review for a lamprais, with all its components, is a hefty article of its own, but every single component had its place, its own story, and a little something to add to the overall beauty of the dish. As an avid fan of the lamprais, it was truly an honour to have been able to partake in this.
North shore fruit salad – Rs. 1200 (5/5)
In the land of tropical fruits, a fruit salad is a quintessential part of our food culture. However, this dish that hails from the north of the island is not your average birthday party fruit salad. Like every other dish we had, this was a uniquely enlightening experience. Wood apple, waraka, and cashews were some ingredients that were in this dish and they told their own stories. This is one dish you have to try because it is a fascinating avatar of a dish we don’t think too much about.
Royal Code is a sleek, well-designed restaurant overlooking the sea that, along with its food, utilises some of the best gifts Sri Lanka has to offer. It’s a perfect place to impress and be impressed by and if you’re looking to get pampered while also exploring a part of your heritage, go give it a visit.
Tip: Take some time to read the menu (it’s a treat) and you have to try the smoked pork baduma and north shore fruit salad at least once in your life.