From the Ministry Of Defence’s Charming Colombo ads.
UPDATE: Actually went and reviewed Ministry Of Crab here.
I walked out of the World Trade Center today to see the Colombo City Hotel (which I honestly haven’t seen before). I also saw a bunch of workmen coming and going from the low building which is the Old Dutch Hospital. This week it’s opening up with a bunch of posh shops and the new Ministry of Crab.
First the deets, AFAIK, ODEL, Barefoot, and that’s all I know are setting up outlets here. I think there’s a press conference this morning.
Dharshan of Nihonbashi (the best sushi in Colombo by far) is also setting up a restaurant called Ministry of Crab, with cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. Word on the street is that they’ll serve export crab, which is a rarity. The best crab I ever had was in Jaffna, and that was crabbed, so to speak, from an export batch. The best tea, tuna and crab usually goes abroad. And some of the best women, but nevermind.
The place itself is the first toehold to the revitalization of Colombo’s city center. For a 2010 amble around Colombo Fort, see here. Due to bubonic levels of terrorism the center did not hold and it is ridiculously underdeveloped. There is one place to eat (Harbour Stop) and nothing to really buy, unless you want Saddam era dinars, or dusty jewelry. There are some cool buildings, but severely under-utilized and the property values are both too high for small developers and too fractured for big ones.
City-dweller wise, there’s no place you can walk around and shop. Seriously, name one stretch where you can shop without a car. Maybe Stratford Avenue, but that’s out at the city limits and it’s basically a one-way highway. ODEL is one shop, but there’s nothing similar within non-traumatic walking distance. There’s malls, but there are no streets or coherent neighborhoods in what the middle class considers Colombo, mainly because these weren’t supposed to be commercial areas at all.
Colombo Fort was supposed to be the commercial center, but it was bombed and atrophied. Now, mashallah, it’s starting to come back.