The Ministry of Crab is an exclusive fine dining seafood restaurant in the Dutch Hospital building. Like its name suggests it offers a large variety of crab dishes to its guests. The restaurant itself is a unique concept brought to light by the famous Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene; along with experienced Chef Dharshan Munidasa. Along with the other local restaurant managed by Dharshan Munidasa, the Japanese restaurant Nihonbashi which took the 49th place, the Ministry of Crab came up as the 29th restaurant in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list of 2017. These two restaurants were the only Sri Lankan eateries to take place in this much renowned list.
The Old Colombo Dutch Hospital is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Colombo Fort, and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Dating back to the Dutch colonial era, it was built in 1677 as a hospital (as can be guessed from the name). The hospital’s close proximity to the harbor allowed it to serve Dutch seafarers, as well as officers and other staff serving under the Dutch East India Company. The hospital was quite advanced and gave its patients at least a mat, though most were provided with a mattress. The patients’ clothing was imported from India. Many top surgeons worked there; including Paul Hermann, who is described as ‘the father of botany in Sri Lanka’. Paintings from the era show that the hospital also had a canal running along what is now Canal Row lane.
After the takeover by the British; the site was used for a variety of purposes, including housing the Colombo Apothecaries and serving as the Colombo Fort Police Station, among other things. Many years later the structure was neglected due to damage in the civil war.
The rejuvenation of the historic Dutch Hospital structure took place in 2011; when it was transformed into one of the most sophisticated shopping and dining precincts in Colombo. Guests to the Ministry of Crab are able to experience the beauty of the old colonial architecture which has been preserved in its originality.
The Ministry of Crab as a celebration of Sri Lanka’s seafood, particularly of the wonderfully sweet and succulent crabs. The menu is specially prepared by Dharshan with his culinary expertise and the most important ingredient it includes is – crabs. The Crabs are the ‘stars of the show’ at Ministry of Crab, with signature dishes such as Chilli Crab, Pepper Crab and Baked Crab on the menu. Other highlights are the amazing King Prawns from the rivers of Sri Lanka while a selective range of delectable accompaniments (including a selection of rice and vegetarian dishes) are provided. Ministry of Crab is a culinary experience in its entirety.
Messages from the Ministers
- ‘Ministry of Crab is a maiden innings for me & I hope this partnership with my long time batting partner Kumar & our new coach Dharshan will be a knockout. Hope you all will be bowled over.’ –Mahela Jayawardene
- ‘Welcome. Ministry of Crab is a celebration of Sri Lanka; our heritage, and our wonderfully fresh and diverse ingredients. For me, this is the realization of my dream to be part of a culinary experience that I hope will enthrall your taste buds and leave you happy, and wanting more. Enjoy!’ – Kumar Sangakkara
- ‘When applying a Japanese mind set to cuisine in Sri Lanka, one pays more attention to the supply chain. Nihonbashi made me discover fish markets and their amazing array of seafood, and this restaurant is a result of a decade and a half of discovery. Hoping you enjoy what the Ministry of Crab has on offer, we are merely messengers of great ingredients.’ – Dharshan Munidasa
About the Chef
Dharshan Munidasa is a Sri Lankan chef, restaurateur and television personality who was born (on 9 November 1970) in Japan to a Sri Lankan Father, Dr. Milton Munidasa and Japanese Mother, Nobuko Munidasa. His mixed heritage meant that he learnt Japanese cooking from his mother from a very young age; while spending his childhood in Japan. Munidasa went on to graduate with a Double Degree in Computer Engineering and International Relations from The John Hopkins University, USA in 1994. It was while he was doing his degree that he unearthed his passion for cooking; mostly out of necessity as he found the cafeteria food was terrible.
When Munidasa returned to Sri Lanka in 1994, after the death of his father, the lack of authentic Japanese cuisine combined with his heritage and passion for pure Japanese culinary fare motivated him to open his maiden venture Nihonbashi; despite having never had any formal culinary training. The restaurant was opened in 1995 at Galle Face Terrace, focusing on providing the most authentic Japanese food in Sri Lanka. Surprisingly the venture was a success, and Dharshan went on to open two more branches of Nihonbashi at ODEL in Alexandra Place in 2001 for on-the-go dining; and at Hilton Colombo Residencies in 2002 for tempura specialties. He partnered with his close friends and cricketing legends Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to open the Ministry of Crab in the 400 year-old building of the Dutch Hospital in December 2011. He continued to open one more restaurant in July 2014, when he partnered with the Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez to create Kaema Sutra; which specializes in contemporary Sri Lankan cuisine.
His restaurants have won many awards and much international acclaim. Chef Dharshan Munidasa has a reputation for portaying originality and amazing taste with his work; and his specialty is the Chilli Crab.