Chef Dharshan makes wild lagoon crab in pepper sauce King of The Table
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: Sometimes it´s a mystery or unidentified secret how certain names come up and become a hit or as famous as the product involved. Such a story is chef Dharshan Munidasa and how he made Sri Lankan crab famous and become a brand in Asia. This happened when his former TV-show was filmed in Singapore, which featured the crabs and the idea of creating a unique crab restaurant was born, the Ministry of Crab.
When brainstorming names, Dharshan felt that Sri Lanka´s Lagoon Crabs needed a powerful name, and “Ministry of Crab” was established. This is a restaurant with its own Constitution. One of total ten bills is “We don´t buy anything frozen”. Another is “Our crabs are not farmed but caught in the wild”.
On top in Asia
Everything has a start and in December 2011 Ministry of Crab open its doors at the historic Dutch Hospital, a 400 years old building in capital Colombo and has once again made its way to Asia`s 50 Best Restaurants, at the moment ranked No. 35. “This is not only a win for Ministry of Crab but also for our country”, Dharshan says.
Crab and Tuna
The Sri Lankan and Japanese chef represent a crossover of two food cultures. Not only is Dharshan Munidasa the magical minister of crab, his other Colombo restaurant, the Japanese Nihonbashi, appears on Asia´s Top 50 as well as traveller´s to-do list. His other restaurant Kaema Sutra in Colombo and The Tuna and The Crab in Galle Fort specialise in tuna and crab. Ministry of Crab has restaurants in Manilla, Shanghai and Mumbai.
Decadent Tasting Menu
I tried a tasting menu and the result came out without any kind of mystery.
Crab Liver Pâté was a creamy and decadent starter. The pate is served with melba toast following some drops of palm sugar syrup. The syrup was meant to add dept of flavour, but interrupted the original flavour of the pate.
Oyster and giant Prawn
Next on the menu was a chilled, freshly shucked oyster with homemade hot sauce and aged soy sauce. This one was absolutely my favourite and half a dozen costs 11 Euro
Sri Lanka is one of few countries blessed with some large lake prawns and cocked in Italian olive oil, Japanese soy sauce, garlic and chilli flakes, that gives something unique to this house of crab. Try this culinary gem served with bread and a fresh seasoning sauce.
King of the table
Black pepper has always been King of Spice in Sri Lanka, and the signal dish Pepper Crab is made by using hand crushed pepper corns, whole pepper corns and a pepper stock, fuses ingredients common to Sri Lanka. Combine the black heat with freshness of the crab and you have the most tasty Crab meal I ever tasted.
Crème Brulèe. This is a tropical island twist to the classic French dessert. Created using the local favourite of rich coconut milk and served to crack the caramelized sugar coating. But the taste would be more smooth and the custard more creamy if the pastry chef cut the cocking time with minimum five minutes.
The price level
You can order crabs in several weight. A medium crab up to 800-gram costs 9,200 local rupee – or 47 Euro. Ministry of Crab has brought the lagoon crab to the highest possible level and the country at the international map of top restaurants. However, the price of the tasting menu is a bit too much, even for a European salary and I wonder what the prices means on the local level. When it comes to taste, originality and quality, the food served at Ministry of Crab is definitive in front – but the prices have been crabbed on to a touristic level.
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