Cilantro

Located at: 70 Porutota Road, Negombo, Sri Lanka

Visited on: 04 Mar, 2018

This is where a spontaneous decision to dine in Negombo took us. Apart from having the name of one of my favourite cooking ingredients, the place looked different to most other restaurants on the bustling touristy street. Spacious, airy, well-lit and neat. (Not to say that the other places don’t look as good – they all look authentic in their own ways and have different characters to them.) It also had a resident Thai chef with a somewhat extensive Thai menu plus other local and international dishes. I hadn’t noticed this place before and so decided to give it a try.

To begin with, we ordered some Tom Yum Goong Thai soup – hot and sour prawn, onion, mushroom, tomato and coriander (LKR 750). This did not have the conventional throat-heat that you experience in tom yum soup, but it had great flavour. And a generous serving of prawns. The tang and sweetness with the coconut milk and herb-y notes were mouth-watering, and I enjoyed it very much. The complimentary bread basket they brought comprised strips of what I would call ‘mini kaal paan’, which was wonderfully warm and soft. Tasted alright as it was, but I prefer my kaal paan crispy and crunchy on the edges.

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Tom Yum Goong
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Cilantro’s bread basket

The first of our two mains was a Tube Calamari Stuffed Parcel (Signature) – calamari stuffed with prawns, diced vegetables and olives, accompanied by butter vegetables, garlic spinach rice and served with oriental life (LKR 1,000). The buttered vegetables included carrots, broccoli, beans, zucchini and gherkin and tasted fine, boiled to a soft crunchiness. The rice had a strong flavour (and serving) of spinach, which would delight any spinach fan, and had a creamy sauce incorporated into it, which gave it an interesting pasta-like feel. The stuffed calamari had been sliced into discs and tasted good – not bursting with flavour, but the calamari was crunchy and firmly held its contents together, while the contents were finely chopped to give it a sort of dumpling-like feel. An interesting combination of textures.

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Tube Calamari Stuffed Parcel (Signature)

The second mains was a Pork Chop Charcutiere – grilled mustard pork loin on gherkin base, steamed rice and sautéed spinach served with pineapple base own jus (LKR 1,000). On the day, they did not have sautéed spinach and asked if it would be okay to replace this with buttered vegetables, to which I agreed. I have to say it was a generous portion of pork loin, mostly meat and only a small amount of fat – great. And the pineapple tasted good, marinated in its own jus. However, there was an overwhelming taste in the pork that might have been the result of an overuse of mustard. It felt like a sharp, salty tang which the pineapple was able to only weakly neutralise. Consuming a whole portion of it could therefore feel rather tedious for the palate. Come to think of it, I don’t recall there being a gherkin base under the pork loin. Well, there was gherkin in the replacement buttered vegetables. But this couldn’t have been what they meant, could it? (Insert ‘thinking’ WhatsApp emoji here.)

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Pork Chop Charcutiere

We ordered a Chocolate Milkshake (LKR 400) and an Orange & Mint juice (LKR 400). Of course, the milkshake was predominantly chocolate ice cream, but they hadn’t added an excess of sugar to it to make it unnecessarily sweeter, which was good. The juice hadn’t been sweetened excessively either and was a nice balance of sweet and citrusy. The two platters seemed to fill us up to the brim, making us feel rather heavy. So we refrained from indulging in the sweet stuff. Overall, this turned out to be an interesting find.

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Chocolate milkshake – partly consumed (L) and Orange & Mint juice (R)

Yummy Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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