Rice, cuttlefish, etc. Min Han
I am not a big food fan. It makes me poop, which I find disconcerting. That said, one has to eat, and few things make me grumpier than a bad meal. Colombo is a good place for Chinese food, that is, one particular variety of Chinese food. The best places are those where the Chinese themselves go. Like Min Han. Min Han is a nondescript restaurant down Deanstone Place, off Duplication Road. It has eight tables with green and white tablecloth, a few with gas cylinders underneath, white walls, fake wood floors, fake flowers and fake Chinese art. I’ve heard that there may be a brothel upstairs but this doesn’t affect the food.
They must have a menu, yes they do. I saw it for the first time today. It is hard-bound in some sort of linoleum gold flake. It’s unnecessary. There is a kind gentlemen who’s usually working there, we just ask him. Things to order for sure are the chili cuttlefish, or white cuttlefish as I remember it. Also the aubergine is good, as is the broccoli. And then chicken or beef or pork or whatever. I ate mainly the cuttles and vegetables and MSG and was fine. Steamed rice, whatever.
One peculiarity of Sri Lankan food is the predominance of cuttlefish and prawn, at least when going out. I rarely (if ever) have at home but it is something of a treat when out. Usually fried. Hot butter cuttlefish is a particular favorite. Growing up in Ohio, I was used to seeing cuttlefish as this obscure somewhat effete calamari thing and prawn as a cocktail. Here they are de rigeur. For the longest time I wasn’t even sure of what the creatures looked like, but one trip to the Jaffna fish market gave me an intimate acquaintance with both their shape and smell. However, well, I still have difficulty registering them as animals. I still picture prawns swimming curled up and I know they don’t do that. Do they sleep like that? Probably not.
I’m not the best at food photography. We ate everything. This is the last broccoli
Uh, so the food at Min Han is pretty good. We paid Rs 5000 for four people which is pretty expensive come to think of it. We didn’t need to order that mediocre soup. And that ice cream was unnecessary. I couldn’t identify one of the flavors and refused to eat anymore. He said it was orange but something was crunchy in there. But that’s besides the point. The cuttlefish is (comparatively) delicate and excellent, the broccoli is buttery, garlicky and yet fresh, and everything is perfectly spicy and spiced. The only issue is that if you eat too much you go into a sort of rice coma. We went there for office lunches a few times and spent the rest of the day in a neck-snapping stupor, getting photographed and pranked awake. You can’t control it though. It’s like the rice is taking over your body. I ate only half the rice but still took a pretty solid nap when I got home.
So that’s Min Han. It’s probably my favorite Chinese food in Colombo. Tell me what yours is. I don’t think they deliver. Deanstone Place is a bit hard to find, turn right off Duplication Road, after Bars Cafe. It’s the road after the Dialog Future Center Road. It looks like a small alley, which it is. You can sorta park way down there, God willing.