It’s time to get Scrub’d up! Order now. 

by Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya 


What is more refreshing than fresh thinly-sliced raw fish dipped in soya sauce with a dash of wasabi? Possibly nothing. Or maybe a thambili (Coconut water). But only that, nothing else.

My dad is a huge Japanese food junkie so I was introduced to Japanese food at a very young age and quickly became a pro at handling chopsticks (this coming from a Sri Lankan household where we eat rice with our hands). I quickly developed a liking for fresh raw fish and of course a hearty ten don where the crispy tempura prawns and vegetables on a bed of sticky rice was my idea of a food-gasm!

Sri Lanka has quickly become quite the culinary hub with many restaurants now catering to different types of cuisine. Japanese food has definitely caught on with our sophisticated Sri Lankan diners and has a growing fan club. Before exploring however just know that Japanese cuisine ain’t cheap and so for quality Japanese food (remember you’re eating raw fish and so you’d want to have better quality!) just know that you need to cash out a bit extra. Listed below are some of my favourite places to get my sushi/sashimi fix in Colombo.

1. Ikoi Tei ($$) – Probably my favourite pick for Japanese in terms of price and quality.   Located conveniently at Dutch hospital precinct, they serve up good quality decently priced sushi and sashimi. They have hearty bento boxes which is perfect if you’re craving a quick Japanese fix for lunch, but if you make a trip for dinner, you must try out their interesting cocktails, some of which come with quite the theatrics – think smoke and cocktails.

Tempura bento box

California sushi roll

2. Tsukiji Uoichi ($$) – This little spot is still not so well known amongst sushi lovers in Colombo as it is on top of a little building within the independence arcade. It’s a favourite of mine because you can order small quantities of a portion and hence order more of a variety. For example, the sushi rolls have 8 pieces normally, but you can order half a portion (4 pieces), along with one ika (cuttlefish) nigiri sushi and 2 chicken yakitoris, e.t.c e.t.c. So because you can order single pieces, you won’t be filled up and can order a larger variety which is great! For the life of me, I cannot remember what the japanese omelette we ordered was called on the menu, but the waiters are very fluent with the menu and you can just ask them for the popular japanese omelette – comes as a savoury or sweet dish – the sweet version is the best! The ten don here isn’t as amazing as the tempura isn’t as crispy, but all the dishes are so yum. The crunchy ebi (prawn) tempura roll is my personal favourite and definitely worth a try.

3. Nihonbashi ($$) – An oldie but a goodie! I have never really had a bad meal at Nihonbashi, they’ve always been on point. They do some really interesting dishes such as the Olive oil Kake tai Cha which is thin slices of sea bream delicately placed over a handful of japanese rice with a raw egg yolk in the centre. The hot oil with pieces of garlic is poured over the dish and then you break the egg to coat all the pieces of fish. The rice is also soaked in the olive oil. It is a real taste overload and a must try! In addition to this, they do a really good ten don and their sushi/sashimi game is on point (try the no name sashimi!). Still dreaming about that olive oil kake tai cha though.

4. Ginza ($$) – Teppanyaki for the win! Ginza at water’s edge does teppanyaki like no other. Teppanyaki is a large portion of raw veg and meats that is cooked infront of you and so this is best to be shared with friends (don’t eat beforehand if you have a small appetite). There are many meat options to choose from: beef, lamb, seafood, chicken, etc. and with the vegetables there is a never ending line of dishes served. Whilst being a bit pricy it is also super entertaining and definitely instgram worthy. The dishes are all seasoned perfectly, but the prawns are definitely mouthwateringly good so do give it a try for a different change to your usual japanese dishes.

5. Robata grill at Movenpick ($$$) – With striking bold red and black modern Japanese interiors, this fine dining restaurant is the new kid on the block. Opened at the swanky movenpick hotel, this restaurant gets an A+ for service. They are quick and efficient with the timing of the food and are accommodating (I visited the restaurant absolutely starving about 15 minutes after the last dinner order, but the chef was sweet enough to accommodate us).


We got a trio of fish for the sashimi platter and you can really taste the freshness of the fish with each bite – except for the Grouper which was a bit icy. They don’t pack on the fish roe on their california rolls, but it tastes just as good.

Since they didn’t have ten dons for dinner (WHY?!) I recreated one with an order of crispy assorted tempura and a portion of sticky rice (which comes with sesame seeds on top – this makes a whole lot of difference to your plain sticky white rice). The tempura was super light and crispy on the prawns and vegetables, and the accompanying dipping sauce perfectly complemented it.

Unfortunately we didn’t order from the grill (yakitori) which is probably one of their best and most well-known dishes, but there is always time for round 2.

What you’d notice about the above pictures is that I almost always order the same things at a Japanese restaurant – Sashimi, California roll (avocado, cucumber & crab) and a Ten don (prawn and veg tempura). So you can compare and contrast the amount of fish roe on the california roll and the thickness of the tempura batter. If you’re in Galle, Dharshan Munidasa has another star restaurant “The tuna & the crab” which can be found at the Galle Dutch Hospital at the Galle Fort. They basically have almost the same menu as Nihonbashi so you can definitely rely on it.

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Hi there!

Hi there! Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya is a medical doctor in Sri Lanka, currently training in Family Medicine. Navigating the healthcare system in Sri Lanka is no easy task and this website was created to help guide other foreign medical graduates and junior doctors. This website also helps demystify life as a doctor in Sri Lanka and also combats medical misinformation circulating amongst the general public!