Whilst in Sri Lanka recently with family I was lucky enough to visit a great restaurant specializing in local seafood and curries. In fact it was such a good restaurant we returned four times during the trip, including once for a cooking demonstration/class.
The Diya Sisila restaurant is the number one rated restaurant in the Bentota area on Trip Advisor, and with good reason. The food is delicious, the chef and staff incredibly friendly and smiley and the location peaceful and beautiful. The restaurant is set a little out of the main town and needs to be reached by Tuk Tuk. It is set on the river bank and offers a catamaran boat tour for diners if they go a little early. This was a really relaxing way to start the meal, and gave the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine, whilst being paddled along the river taking in wild life and scenery.
The restaurant does not have a menu, and with only four tables it is important to phone and book beforehand, and also to request the food you want. The restaurant serves no alcohol, so you need to bring your own. The first time we dined at this restaurant we chose to sample the seafood platter option. This started with a pineapple coleslaw, flavoured with black pepper, which was surprisingly delicious and followed by a huge plate of barbecued jumbo prawns, lobster and fish. The fish was served with a chunky, spicy pineapple sauce, and the lobster and prawns with garlic butter sauce. The seafood and fish were both delicious and we were unfortunately defeated by the size of the platter. This meal was finished with a vanilla ice cream with crushed nuts and treacle (or ‘trickle’ as it is called in Sri Lanka).
On out next visit we decided to sample the curry selection (which we requested to be ‘like a rocket’ hot and spicy), and it was a wide selection! There was prawn, cuttle fish, chicken, daal, bean and mushroom. These were all served with soft fluffy rice and delicious paratha bread. The very friendly chef happily showed us how to eat effectively with our fingers and happily made sure we enjoyed our meal. We enjoyed it so much we asked for a cooking lesson the following week. Although this is not something usually offered, the chef was happy to oblige (in fact he was constantly happy, as were his smiling waiter brothers!).
The cooking lesson was brief, and more of a demonstration due to limited kitchen space, but definitely gave us a good idea of spice mixes and cooking methods to produce tasty curries and rice. We returned one more time for a curry feast and to amp up the rocket factor one more time, as we still didn’t feel we had tasted a blow your head of curry, which is famed in Sri Lanka. I think the locals operate on the side of caution when cooking for foreigners. We were satisfied with some pretty spicy dishes, and once again an incredibly filing curry feast.
This is a fantastic restaurant, well worth a visit if you are in the region. Bentota is dominated by tourist type restaurants with a lot of western cuisine and bad buffets, so if you want to sample the local cuisine with a smile and fantastic surroundings Diya Sisila is the perfect location. The price is a little higher than many restaurants, but still very reasonable for the quality and quantity of food. Your won’t go home hungry!