Negombo is probably the first town where you will love to spend a night or two after landing in Sri Lanka. It’s kind of a transit spot where tourists love to spend a couple of nights. The airport is basically closest to this little town and definitely, it’s a place you can’t afford to miss. By the way, if you are a tourist and you are here in Sri Lanka only for vacation then you may well skip visiting the capital city i.e. Colombo, yes you got that right! Instead, spend a good amount of time relaxing at the serene beaches and pretty looking eateries at Negombo and move on to other picturesque towns, beaches and cultural spots in the island country.
During my last visit a few days ago, I had spent a couple of days in Negombo and believe me, it’s totally worth it. In fact, I would have loved to stay a day or two more, maybe. To me, the town looks a bit similar to Kochi (in several places); Negombo has a predominantly Christian population unlike any other town in Sri Lanka and is dotted with several beautiful churches.
We stayed at the Oasis Beach Resort at the Ettukala area in Negombo just by the sea beach (picture below).
You can surely choose to stay at this place if you are in Negombo. The resort is neat, no-frill and beautiful with all the amenities, a centrally located picturesque swimming pool and friendly staff. Oasis Resort has their private beach and a beautiful dreamy outdoor dining area just by the seaside.
Their restaurant is called Fish and Lobster Restaurant and this outdoor seating arrangement has surely made this place more special.
At this restaurant, we had the complimentary breakfast and a dinner. The breakfast mainly consisted of freshly cut fruits that included watermelon and pineapple, boiled eggs, toasted bread (with butter and jam), tea, coffee. Well, except that tea I loved almost everything in the breakfast.
So, it’s basically a Set-breakfast that you get here, not a typical buffet breakfast that you get at most of the hotels / resorts.
Apart from their breakfast, I tried their Chicken soup with some cheese toasts. And yes, that soup was amazing; it was basically a clear soup with a generous amount of egg whites, shredded chicken and noodles. It was subtle and pretty soothing. The cheese toasts were generously cheesy and I really liked them.
Apart from this, I tried their Sri Lankan Chicken Curry and Rice. The dish contained enough food to satiate two tummies. Apart from the bowl of Chicken curry, rice and salad, the dish had several vegetarian options, yellow dal and something like a deep-fried Indian papad.
Just one thing, everything is good about this resort except their Wi-Fi strength, which isn’t very strong expect in their restaurant area. But still, the place has got its inimitable charm. I will surely check-in at Oasis resort whenever I am back in this town.
Apart from this, I had tried out a couple of restaurants close to our resort. This part of the town is basically studded with eateries (and a couple of souvenir shops). You get innumerable eating options on both sides of the street. These are pubs, bars, eateries and couple of expensive restaurants. At most of these restaurants, you get similar menu items which have several Western options apart from typical Sri Lankan cuisine. When I say Sri Lankan cuisine, you basically get some local curries and rice at these joints. And yes, you also get their local ginger beer at some of these eateries.
Now, I found it bit confusing to choose one good eatery from all these pretty-looking eating houses in this gastronomical strip. So, here I am sharing my eating experience at two very prominent eateries which happen to be located adjacent to each other. They are sort of twin eateries which you should try out if you are in Negombo. They are Honky Tonky Two and Bijou Swiss Restaurant. Both these places are pretty looking eateries frequented by Europeans having lovely outdoor seating arrangements.
And yes, when you step into these places, you will see an overdose of solid wooden furniture, wooden ceiling, wooden bar counters and so on. Actually, this wooden interiors and elements are common in almost all Sri Lankan establishments, temples, etc.
Honky Tonky Two is basically a family-run restaurant and prefers to keep things simple. When you step in, you’ll find most of their family members are present there and working on your order. So you get a warm, homely feeling as soon as you step into this place. The menu consists of several Western eating options including burgers, steaks, pasta, pizza, etc as well as oriental food options like soups, noodles, fried rice, etc.
Apart from this, you obviously get the Sri Lankan curries along with steamed rice. We ordered for a plate of simple Veg Fried Rice for my son, Chicken curry and rice and a plate of Prawn curry and rice. Actually I wanted to taste their Crab curry but unfortunately, it was not in stock when I was there.
Here the Prawn curry dish or the Chicken curry dish did not include any veg side dishes or dal like I had at our Oasis Resort’s restaurant. But yes, flavor-wise both these dishes were amazing. A tangy sweet mango pickle and a sambal red chilli paste accompanied these dishes.
Believe me, the prawn curry tasted absolutely brilliant with that sambal red curry paste and steamed rice. It tasted so amazing that I asked for a second helping of the rice. And yes, to wash things down, I ordered for a glass of fresh watermelon juice which was just so satisfying.
Now coming to the eatery that’s located just beside Honky Tonky Two, it is Bijou Swiss Restaurant. You can spot the restaurant in a jiffy by all those Swiss flags hanging outside the restaurant and that white coloured statue of a chef. This place also gives you a homely cozy feel and yes, there is an overdose of wood in the interiors which I absolutely loved! We chose to sit inside though there were loads of outdoor seating options which were just so picture-perfect.
At this place, we wanted to try out other eating options apart from Sri Lankan curry and rice. So, we ordered a Chicken Noodles, Chili and Garlic Spaghetti and Garlic and Prawn Spaghetti. Both these spaghetti dishes were cooked in Aglio-e-Olio style which happens to be my favourite. But I guess they could have been tossed for few more minutes before removing from the flame.
I loved the Chili and Garlic Spaghetti which of course was a vegetarian dish but the flavours were just extremely soothing and captivating. The garlic cloves were finely chopped and used in both these dishes but were not tossed on high flames, so it was loaded with neatly sliced garlic but wasn’t too garlicky!! The one with prawns and garlic was absolutely a gem! I almost devoured it like there is no tomorrow!!
The Chicken Noodles dish was prepared in a local Sri Lankan style with mei-foon or rice noodles. Do not expect any authentic Chinese touch to this dish. It is similar to having Kolkata style chowmein, that’s very typical of the place where it’s being prepared. Here, the chicken chunks present in the chicken noodles were huge, generous and pretty flavorful. Overall the noodles had enough veggies as well and tasted pretty good. We also ordered fresh lime sodas to wash things down! That was a pretty satisfying meal in the end. A meal for four people in these eateries would cost you something close to LKR 3000 without alcohol, that’s actually pretty reasonable if not cheap.
After the tiring flight, Negombo gives just the right touch of relaxation that every tourist looks for. The sea beach (though there are better sea beaches in Sri Lanka), the windy evenings, the relaxation by the pool in the resort, or the amazing eateries and souvenir shops, everything adds to the positives of this town! It’s that entry town to the beautiful island country which you surely can’t miss.
P.S. Check out the link to PART-2 of the ‘Sri Lanka Diaries’, hope you like it!