The gap in the Hong Kong food scene for Sri Lankan cuisine has recently been filled by Hotal Colombo, which serves up fiery, flavourful sharing plates –think curries, chutneys, roti, sambol (freshly grated coconut) and addictive hoppers (bowl-shaped pancakes made with coconut milk and rice flour). While chef Gisela Alesbrook cooks up cuisine from her home country, the restaurant woos diners with its baby pink façade, tropical décor and a playlist of buoyant Baila tunes. “Music is an important part of our atmosphere,” says Alesbrook. “Baila music is native to Sri Lanka – it’s happy and beachy… it reminds me of riding around in my dad’s car as a kid.”
Chef Alesbrook gives us the lowdown on what makes Sri Lankan cuisine stand out
Tell us about your background.
“I’m from a small town near Colombo. I’ve been working with Black Sheep Restaurants for seven years.”
How would you describe Sri Lankan food?
“Light, fragrant and fiery, with influences from nearby countries, and Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial settlers.”
Which dish is an absolute must-try?
“Bone marrow varuval. The slow-cooked bone marrow comes with onions, spices and pennywort leaves.”