Sri Lanka has its own unique range of culinary delights and exotic flavours, inspired by the bounteous local produce and distinctive native spices. Rice and curry are the quintessential national staple. It is not unusual to see the locals enjoying mountains of rice with an array of colourful vegetables, meat and seafood curries, accompanied by flavourful condiments such as sambols, chutneys, fried anchovy-like dry fish and pappadams; heartily enjoyed at breakfast, lunch and dinner alike. Hoppers (a crusty crepe like rice flour preparation), String-Hoppers (vermicelli noodle like preparation), Milk-Rice (sticky rice cooked with Coconut milk), Pittu (steamed couscous like preparation made with rice/wheat flour and coconut), Coconut Roti (wheat flour and coconut based pancake), Watallapan (crème caramel like pudding made with milk, eggs and jaggery) are recommended menu items every adventurous epicurean must savour while in Sri Lanka.
Bottled drinking water is abundantly available in hotels, supermarkets and small retail shops alike. “Thembili” or King Coconut juice still in its husk is a refreshing thirst quencher, sold by many roadside vendors.
Most hotels and holiday resorts in Sri Lanka serve star class local and international cuisine, through a very generous mix of buffets/banquets, set menus and ala-carte menus. The tantalising assortment of sea food dishes, fresh exotic selections of fruit and fruit juices, mouth-watering local and international desserts are noteworthy.
Many of Sri Lanka’s fine dining restaurants are located in Colombo and a few other tourism centric cities such as Galle. These often operate as standalone eateries or as extended operations of the star class hotels. The fine dining restaurants often specialise in their offering – the cuisine ranges from Chinese, Italian, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Western to authentic Sri Lankan.
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