Fine Dining: Ministry of Crab Colombo, Sri Lanka

Report by @AnthonyTravelPhotos

by Guest Writer
a plate with a folded napkin on it

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Ministry of Crab Colombo – Introduction

Visiting the Ministry of Crab (MOC) in Colombo, which is recognized among Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, offers a unique culinary experience beyond just dining. Chef Dharshan Munidasa established the restaurant alongside Sri Lankan cricket legends Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara, and it has locations in the Maldives, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Manila.

a sign on a sidewalk

My trip to Sri Lanka included many firsts, including some aspirational bucket list items:

Emirates First Class from Dubai to Colombo

SriLankan Airlines Business Class from Colombo to Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington D.C

MOC was located in the Old Dutch Hospital district (ODH), one of the oldest buildings in Colombo and is one of the most beautiful. Built by the Dutch in 1677 as a hospital (thus the name), the site has been used for various purposes since – housing the Colombo Apothecaries and serving as the Colombo Fort Police Station, among other things. Sadly neglected for the past few years due to the civil war, the site has been rejuvenated. It is now a major tourist destination in Colombo, with restaurants, souvenir shops, and boutique shops. Even if you don’t go to the Ministry of Crab, visiting the ODH area is a must if you visit Colombo. The restaurant doesn’t have direct street access, but local shopkeepers are usually helpful in guiding visitors.

a building with tables and chairs outside at night

Ministry Of Crab – Colombo

Ministry Of Crab Colombo – Meal Service

Upon arrival, we were asked if we wanted to dine inside or out, so given it was a fantastic evening, we decided to eat outside to enjoy the ODH’s views. Other restaurants also shared this outside space with stone tables and seats. It is surrounded by hotels and skyscrapers, including the Hilton Hotel, which is one option to use points if you decide to stay in “downtown” Colombo.

people sitting at tables in a courtyard

Ministry Of Crab – Outdoor Seating

The table setting was a simple, flat white plate with a bronze-coloured napkin folded to look like a dinner jacket. MOC bibs with the restaurant motto “Keep Calm and Crab On” are also at your table. The full-service bar and adequate seating for couples and larger groups were inside the restaurant. My date for the night was my Dad, a fellow seafood enthusiast 🙂

a plate with a folded napkin on it

Ministry Of Crab Colombo – Table Setup

a table with a black towel on it

a group of people sitting at tables outside

Dad and I, at Ministry Of Crab – Colombo

The restaurant’s menu is diverse, especially highlighting its range of crab dishes.

Ministry Of Crab menu

Ministry Of Crab – Menu


PRAWN BISQUE – This hearty bisque blends the fresh flavour of Sri Lanka’s excellent Freshwater Prawn with a combination of local spices. It is served with traditional wood-fired Kade Bread. The portion size could have been bigger, but the flavour was rich and delicious.

a plate of food with a piece of bread on it

BAKED CRAB – Inspired by the classic, this dish is likened by many to a crab risotto. It is rich and savoury, with a hint of soy sauce that brings out the umami. Served under a crab shell, the portion size was a bit small; however, the dish was rich, moist, and perfectly seasoned.

a food on a plate

a bowl of food on a table

Main Course:

The main course is predominantly focused on crab, which is available in different sizes and preparations.

a person holding a crab

PEPPER CRAB – Black Pepper has been the true “king of spice” of Sri Lanka for centuries since red chilli was not native to the island. This signature dish is made using peppercorns that are hand-crushed and rolled on a “miris gala” (traditional grinding stone), whole peppercorns and a black pepper dashi, fusing two native Sri Lankan ingredients: black pepper and Mud Crab.

GARLIC CHILLI CRAB  – A Ministry of Crab original, where Mediterranean flavours and Japanese food philosophies meet Sri Lankan crab. It blends the distinct flavours of Italian olive oil, garlic, Sri Lankan chilli flakes, and Japanese soy sauce. The thick shell of the Sri Lankan Mud Crab adds an unbelievable depth to the flavoured oil, which is excellent to be soaked up with our Kade Bread.

CHILLI CRAB – This dish gave Sri Lankan crabs the iconic status they enjoy in Southeast Asia. Our version is created with Dharshan’s original recipe, which uses the fiery red chillies of Sri Lanka, adding warmth, sweetness and incredible depth of flavour to the dish.

a plate of food on a table

BUTTER CRAB – This dish is the best way to appreciate the full flavour of these fantastic crustaceans and is best served chilled with warm butter (6 hours notice required). Order male crabs for more claw meat and females for tender, sweet meat.

SRI LANKAN CURRY CRAB – A traditional Sri Lankan curry that combines the island’s iconic Mud Crab with an array of local spices, sprigs of moringa, and pandan leaves. Combining aromatic spices with the fresh flavour of the crab gives this dish a deep flavour unique to this part of the world.

a bowl of crab meat

My Dad went with the Sri Lankan Curry Crab, and being a fan of garlic, I went with the Garlic Chili Crab.

Served in rich flavoured oil, the crab shell was scooped out, and the legs were put inside with the claws placed on the side. I loved the “3D” presentation. You could smell the garlic and chilli as the dish was placed on the table. The bibs given are a must, and if you are not a fan of eating with your hands, then MOC is not the place for you 😊 Most of the claws were already pre-cracked, and the legs were also pre-separated to make it easier to eat. The dish is SPICY, so I added a glass of King Coconut Water and a few glasses of ice-cold water to help with the spice.

We ordered the Kade bread, a traditional Sri Lankan wood-fired bread to soak up all the sauce/oil, which honestly, I did not waste a drop of it as it was that good !! The bread also helped with the level of spice.

Overall, the dish was filling. The sauce was mouth-watering, and there was plenty of crab meat to soak it all up.


After the meal, you must head to the washroom to clean your hands after going through all this crab. There is no dedicated washroom for the restaurant. Instead, they share a public washroom with the other restaurants in the area. This is because being in a “heritage site” has restrictions, including allowing MOC to build a separate bathroom, which I am sure they would prefer to do, versus having their guests use a shared public washroom.

The restaurant gives you a “washroom/sanitizing kit,” a sealed pouch containing toilet paper, paper towels, wet naps and hand sanitizer with the MOC logo. You then walk about 1 minute to the washroom that requires payment; however, showing them the MOC washroom kit allows you to enter without payment. The washrooms could have been cleaner and more sanitary, is all I will say. While I did understand why no separate washrooms were available, this one factor may be why MOC may take a while to earn its 1st Michelin star, as most Michelin Restaurants I have been to have bathrooms so spotless you could eat off the floors. I hope Michelin does not hold this against MOC if they visit one day.

Dessert Course:

COCONUT CREME BRULEE – A tropical island twist on the classic French dessert. Created using rich coconut milk, the Coconut Creme Brulee is baked in fresh coconut.

Ministry Of Crab

Served inside a coconut shell, the desert is brought to you, and the sugar is caramelized with a blow torch.… a nice touch !! Crème Brule is usually my go-to dessert on any menu, and this one did not disappoint—a hard caramelized sugar shell on the outside and a rich and creamy cold custard inside.

Ministry of Crab Colombo – Takeaway

Our servers were young men who, in my opinion, did a good job. While they may not have been able to answer all our questions about the menu, they took the initiative to ask a manager and come back to us with the correct answer. Overall, the service was good !!

The bill was in US Dollars, so paying with a US Credit card (if you are in the US Card game) is best to avoid FX fees. The meal cost about USD 100 after tip and was a great dining experience well worth the price. The space that the MOC is in inside the ODH, along with a breezy and cool summer night, added to an enjoyable evening. While crab is a typical dish in many of the restaurants along the coast of Sri Lanka, especially in Colombo, the ambiance and the presentation of the food at MOC make for a special occasion if you are looking for a quiet fine dining experience in Colombo.

Don’t forget to take the time to walk off the meal in the ODH area after your meal and explore some of the shops or just the architecture of this 400-year-old heritage site. Bon appetite, Keep Calm and Crab on 😊

You can read about my other Fine Dining experiences here.


Hal January 21, 2024 - 1:55 pm

That’s an amazing price. I went years ago by myself but because I didn’t make reservations, they said the only crab that was available that day was some 3KG one which ended up costing me $180 by myself with drinks.

Anthony January 21, 2024 - 10:52 pm

Thanks for the comment Hal. Yes the type of crab available daily is seasonal as the crabs, I was told, are caught daily and served fresh vs frozen.
We had the option of getting a larger crab, however since I ordered an app and desert I opted for a smaller crab to save room for dessert : )


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