8 Excellent Spots For Sri Lankan Food In London
Where to eat the best mutton rolls, kothu rotis, and prawn curries.
Sri Lanka isn’t referred to as Spice Island for no reason. This cuisine leads with the spices, whether that’s cardamom in biryani, chilli in the devilled prawns, or curry leaf in sauces, each dish packs a punch. After plenty of parathas and potentially discovering the world’s most addictive snack at a restaurant in Tooting, we’ve put together a list of eight excellent spots serving Sri Lankan food in London.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Apollo Banana Leaf
Walk past this Sri Lankan spot at the quieter end of Tooting High Street any night of the week and you’ll catch a glimpse of tables filled with mutton kothu rotis and ceylon chicken curries being scooped on to plates midway through a story being told. Apollo Banana Leaf is as much for a laid-back catch-up with friends as it is a practical solo meal after work. In both cases, the comforting Sri Lankan classics are consistently good. Sit in the casual dining room that feels like an old-school community centre function room, nearly burn your tongue on the golden mutton rolls, and order more than you can eat.
A small, moody spot on Rupert Street, Paradise serves excellent Sri Lankan small plates with exciting twists. The menu changes daily, which means a meal can either start with a breadfruit vadai doughnut or an equally delicious koffman potato pastry—just know that whatever's on the menu, you’re in good hands. They’re doing some great things with fish too, so order anything that comes in the coastal-style red curry sauce and don’t forget a paratha roti. It’s predominantly bar seating, with a couple of booths for small groups and a single table at the back for bigger gatherings.
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One of London’s most reliable Sri Lankan spots, Jaffna has been around since 1991. And after taking a seat in the homely dining room, and watching as takeaway orders fly out the door and Tooting locals drop by to pick up a cardamom-heavy kothu here and a bag of mutton rolls there, you’ll realise this is a place people return to. The curries are great, in particular the Jaffna special chicken curry—a rich and spicy tomato-based sauce with pieces of boneless chicken. Paired with the egg hopper, it’s a winning combination. The spot is perfect for a cosy catch-up with a few friends over mutton biriyani and fried string hoppers.
This family-run neighbourhood restaurant on Worcester Park’s Central Road is home to some of the city's finest mutton rolls, a ceylon chicken curry that packs some serious spice, and plenty of vegetarian options including a cashew curry we’re convinced is 80% cream. But our favourite dishes at Colombo Kitchen have one thing in common: prawns. From the beer-battered hot butter prawns to the king prawn curry, Colombo is a place that knows its way around seafood. Spacious and comfortable, this is a great spot for groups, low-key birthday celebrations, or the kind of weeknight dinner you’ll think about until the weekend.
Kothu Sri Lankan Restaurant & Bar
Another must-try Tooting spot, Kothu unsurprisingly serves some really amazing mutton kothu roti. Finely shredded roti, meaty, flavourful chunks of mutton, all generously topped with a layer of spring onion, this hefty portion of kothu arrives with a thick curry sauce on the side. The best part? You get to choose the spice level. Come here with a group and take one of the booths at the back or head in for a quick solo meal—we suggest a string hopper set meal while listening to a funny podcast. Just make sure you get the cheesy mutton rolls—they’re deep-fried, filled with slow-cooked lamb, and cheese. What’s not to like?
Dammikas Sri Lankan Restaurant Victoria
Located a five-minute walk from Victoria station, this laid-back spot is perfect for a last-minute dinner when your friends are looking to you for restaurant ideas… again. The menu is straightforward, split into devilled meats, kothu, curries, and other Sri Lankan classics, and the biriyani is great for sharing. The servers are friendly and helpful, and will rightfully not let you leave without trying the kothu. Heavy on the roti and spices, it’s a satisfying mountain of carbs that you’ll nibble at long after you’re full. Come for a no-frills delicious meal with portions so big you’ll inevitably leave with a doggy bag.
There are restaurants we like. And then there are restaurants that make us want to bulk order megaphones and walk the streets of London guiding unsuspecting hungry people towards some bone marrow varuval. Hoppers in King’s Cross falls into the latter category. As well as the signature egg hoppers, bone marrow varuval, and lamb shank buriani, there are the World’s Buffest Prawns. Yes, we will be starting a fan club called Crustacean Nation, thanks for asking. Outside of the excellent dosas, hoppers, and Sri Lankan bites, you’ll definitely want to get involved in the lamb kari and, realistically, as many dishes as you can fit on your table.
If you work in Soho and you’re the kind of person who likes to discuss strategy over sambol, then you’re going to love Kolamba. This Sri Lankan sharing plates restaurant is smack bang in the middle of things in Kingly Street and some of its flavours hit you smack bang in the face. Things like dry-fried beef chatti roast and crispy chilli cuttlefish are ideal chatting and chewing food, while parripu—red lentil with coconut milk and turmeric—is something we could eat every day. That said, not everything on the menu has quite the same walloping effect on your tongue. Space-wise, it’s deceptively big with an upstairs best suited for lunch catch-ups and a moodier downstairs that screams date night and dessert—the caramelised pineapple with ice cream, specifically.