Famous Baked Crab at Sri Lanka's Top Restaurant - Ministry of Crab, Colombo

World-Famous Baked Crab

by Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Ministry of Crab is a renowned restaurant located in downtown Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was founded by Japanese-Sri Lankan celebrity chef Dharshan Munidasa along with renowned Sri Lankan cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The restaurant specializes in serving fresh and high-quality Sri Lankan crab dishes, prepared with a combination of traditional and innovative cooking techniques.

The Ministry of Crab is highly acclaimed both locally and internationally, often making it onto lists of the best restaurants in Asia, and is often cited as the top restaurant in all of Sri Lanka. It's known for its commitment to sustainability, sourcing its crabs from local fishermen and promoting responsible fishing practices.

baked crab at Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Old Dutch Hospital)
baked crab at Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Old Dutch Hospital)


As their name suggests, the restaurant sells lots and lots of locally caught Sri Lankan crab. CNN Travel described Ministry of Crab as "the world's best crab restaurant" and it is widely regarded as the best restaurant in all of Sri Lanka and one of the top restaurants in the world.

The restaurant emphasizes quality. They have a no-freezer policy, import no major ingredients, emphasize sustainability, and are one of the world's lowest "food-mile" restaurants (meaning that everything is grown, caught, and produced right here in Sri Lanka). Each crab is inspected for perfection, and any crabs with missing claws or disproportions are discarded to ensure that only the very best catch is served.

We started the meal by ordering several of the restaurant's side dishes to share, starting with their delicious mixed vegetables. The veggies, lightly stir-fried and richly flavorful.

mixed vegetables
mixed vegetables

This was followed by a side of stir-fried morning glory cooked with fried garlic. The garlic added an excellent flavor to the bright, green taste of this delicious and healthy vegetable.

stir-fried morning glory
stir-fried morning glory

Next came an order of button mushrooms, which were pan-fried with sauce and had an excellent, dark, earthy flavor.

button mushrooms
button mushrooms

All of these sides were served with big pieces of thick cut kade bread, a type of traditional Sri Lankan wood fired white bread that can be eaten on its own, with sambol and butter, or as a vessel to soak up all of the delicious sauces from your meal.

Sri Lankan kade bread (traditional wood fired bread)

An order of kade bread comes with 18 pieces of hearty and chewy bread alongside a mountain of pol sambol (traditional Sri Lankan grated coconut relish served here inside the original coconut shell) and a medallion of butter pressed with the restaurant's iconic crab symbol.

A small bit of butter and a scoop of the island's iconic spicy-salty-sweet sambol make for the perfect complement to a piece of this sweet, white bread.

coconut sambol and fresh butter
coconut sambol and fresh butter

Though most famous for their crab (which can range in size from 500g ($60) to 2kg ($320), the restaurant also serves a number of fish and chicken dishes, including their popular seer teriyaki. Seer, a type of mackerel found in the Indian Ocean, is served with Chef Dharshan's homemade teriyaki sauce.

Chef Dharshan, born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and Sri Lankan father, opened Ministry of Crab with the Japanese principle of washoku, or "harmonious cooking" in mind. As such, the restaurant takes great care of every detail to offer a perfect fusion dining experience.

seer fish, Colombo, Sri Lanka
seer fish, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Realizing how popular Sri Lankan crab was abroad, Chef Dharshan opened this restaurant to show off Sri Lankan cuisine to the world.

You can order a full crab cooked as a pepper crab, garlic chili crab, Sri Lankan crab curry, and more. You can also order prawns cooked in a similar fashion.

I was still full after a day of exploring Sri Lanka's culinary wonders, and didn't want to drop $60 on a meal I might not finish. Instead, after enjoying the delicious side dishes, I opted for the baked crab ($20).

Ministry of Crab's baked crab is one of their most popular dishes. Often likened to a risotto, this dish is made with lots of big pieces of sweet, tender crab meat baked with breadcrumbs and a splash of soy sauce. It's a rich, savory, umami-packed dish, and one that I would definitely order again and again.

Ministry of Crab's famous baked lagoon crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Ministry of Crab's famous baked lagoon crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

I was stuffed after my meal, but I still had a little room for dessert. I ordered Ministry of Crab's famous coconut cr猫me br没l茅e. Served in a half coconut shell, the creamy coconut custard is toasted with a blow torch right at the table for supreme freshness. After cracking the caramelized shell, just dig in to get at the incredibly rich and sweet custard inside.

No matter how full you might be, you cannot miss ordering the coconut cr猫me br没l茅e for dessert ($5).

coconut cr猫me br没l茅e at Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka
coconut cr猫me br没l茅e at Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Menu and Prices

Because Ministry of Crab is considered to be one of the world's best restaurants, it's no surprise that it's pricy.

A small crab, which can be prepared a number of ways, costs a whopping $60 USD, and the largest "crabzilla" size starts at $320! Needless to say, we opted to go for some cheaper dishes on the menu.

The crab is quite expensive. Prawns are slightly more affordable. If on a budget, there are plenty of crab, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian options that are far cheaper. Eschew crab if you must (or opt for the more affordable baked crab as I did), but don't let the price deter you from this phenomenal restaurant. There are plenty of items on the menu that won't break the bank, and I guarantee that whatever you order will be worth the price.

Ministry of Crab menu and prices (in USD), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Ministry of Crab menu and prices (in USD), Colombo, Sri Lanka

Location

Ministry of Crab is located inside the historic Old Dutch Hospital complex at Old Dutch Hospital Complex, 04 Hospital St, Colombo 00100, Sri Lanka in downtown Colombo. This area is known for its colonial-era architecture and vibrant atmosphere, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The Old Dutch Hospital complex, which dates back to the 17th century, has been revitalized in recent years and is now home to a variety of upscale restaurants, boutique shops, and galleries. The Ministry of Crab occupies a prominent spot within this complex, offering diners a unique culinary experience in a historic setting.

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