Known for being at the forefront of Sri Lanka’s culinary scene and for its dedication to serving fresh produce, Nihonbashi is a restaurant with an international mindset. Founded 21 years ago by Dharshan Munidasa who is of mixed Japanese and Sri Lankan heritage, the restaurant has not only served consistently excellent authentic Japanese food, but has continued to go from strength to strength. It is for these high standards, and its determination to push the envelope that Nihonbashi has garnered international attention over the past few years, becoming one of two Sri Lankan restaurants (the second being Ministry of Crab, Dharshan’s second venture) to be ranked on “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants”, for four consecutive years.
In a country where too often restaurants are happy to imitate a pre-existing model, Nihonbashi has always tried to do something a little less conventional. What is more the restaurant is determined not just to be a leader within the island, but overseas as well. This is evident in its dedication to procuring only the highest quality ingredients. Nihonbashi intercepts Japan grade export tuna (European grade tuna not being of sufficient quality) before it is sent to the famous Tsukiji fish market in Japan, a fact which has drawn the attention of Hong Kong’s Crave magazine. The restaurant’s commitment to using locally sourced ingredients to as great an extent as possible has also lead to its being featured in The Financial Times. As well as ensuring the freshness of the ingredients, locally sourcing produce also serves to reduce the restaurant’s carbon print, a fact of which, Nihonbashi as an environmentally responsible restaurant, is proud. Nihonbashi’s commitment to freshness and quality in preparation of the best Japanese food in Sri Lanka also led to an appearance on TV Tokyo’s Nippon Shokudo documentary in 2011.
Not only does Nihonbashi provide authentically prepared Japanese classics, but also pushes the envelope to create new and exciting dishes and combinations of flavours. The Karapincha Tempura is one of many dishes unique to Nihonbashi. It exemplifies the bridging of two cultures signified in the restaurant’s name (Nihonbashi means ‘Japan Bridge’) in taking Sri Lanka’s traditional curry leaf and frying it in a typically Japanese tempura batter.
Cutting edge not only in terms of the food it serves, the restaurant was featured in the Forbes Magazine for being among the first in the world to get an iPad menu. The iPad’s high-quality display is used to provide diner’s with a visual of what they will be ordering, useful in a Japanese restaurant where diners may not be familiar with all the dishes. The restaurant’s wine list is also featured on the iPad, and guests find that it is easier to choose their favourite bottle of wine when they can see a visual representation such as the label.
The dining options at Nihonbashi are many, from small plates to 10 Course dinner set menus, and there is something to appeal to everyone. With its seven private dining rooms the restaurant is perfect for business dinners, couples, families with children, and foodies.
For cutting edge cuisine, the freshest ingredients and innovative dishes exclusive to the restaurant, Nihonbashi is definitely worth a visit.
Nihonbashi is open Daily for Lunch and Dinner. Price for Lunch is USD12 upwards per person, and dinner is USD25 per person.
Yakitori Garden at Nihonbashi Honten
Dharshan Munidasa, Chef extraordinaire behind Nihonbashi and the Ministry of Crab, unveiled his latest masterpiece – a One- of- a- kind Yakitori Garden at Nihonbashi Honten on Galle Face Terrace in February 2013, after months of meticulous planning. "I am so excited about the opening of our yakitori garden. It took months of planning every detail from the specially torched pine wood walls to the lighting to create the perfect ambience for our customers to sit and enjoy this Japanese staple," beamed Dharshan. Setting it apart from other Yakitori gardens across the world is the level of elegance this little spot offers. Set outdoors among bamboo walls and classic granite countertops and floors, with polished cement tables and chairs, this space creates a serene atmosphere that is ideal for relaxing with friends after a hectic day of work.
Yakitori is a Japanese word that means 'grilled' (yaki) 'fowl' (tori) and usually refers to chicken kebabs that are made by lacing bite-sized pieces of chicken meat on skewers and grilling them over charcoal, which was the original street food of Japan. To get the best flavours, the team at Nihonbashi use unfrozen chicken alongside white charcoal, which is much denser than black and never pour fuel onto the grill, instead placing the coals on a stove to get them burning.
The simple menu offers a plethora of chicken variants, all prepared in their own special way. Start off with Tsunkune, a tantalizing dish of minced chicken meatball skewer with small onions and scallions. The Momo Niku, a juicy piece of grilled leg meat, lightly charred on the outside and soft on the outside is an easy favourite. There’s also Sunigamo (gizzard) which has a taut bouncy texture, fleshy
Teba (wing) and soft, creamy Tori – Reba (liver). The more adventurous can try Bonjiri (tail), Hatsu (heart) or Torikawa, the fatty melt in your mouth skin on a skewer. For the seafood lover there are also grilled prawns.
Guests are offered the choice of having their yakitori served with Shio (salt) and lemon juice or with Tare (sauce). The Tare is very special in the fact that it has been has been 18 years in the brewing - jaggery, apple and honey go into the signature recipe and traditionally the pot is never allowed to empty – instead every cupful that is taken out is painstakingly replaced.
The price range is quite affordable, ranging between Rs. 180 and Rs.300 per skewer. Beverages are available as well as a refreshing accompaniment to Yakitori. The maximum seating capacity being 14, there is already a great demand for tables, so hurry to get your reservations. The yakitori garden also offers a 50% discount on weekdays for dine – in customers from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.
Nihonbashi is located at No. 11, Galle Face Terrace, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. The restaurant is open daily for lunch from 12 noon to 2.30pm and for dinner from 6.00pm to 10.30pm. For more information or to make a reservation, contact Nihonbashi on +94 112 323847 or online at