By Sherwani Synon
Whether it’s Galle Face, Tangalle or Trincomalee a beach front is my favourite place to be.
As with most people, the ocean holds sentimental value;from making sand castles as a kid to gazing at the crashing waves as I got older. Apart from the ocean, the next best thing I love is good food and I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than enjoying great food at a great beach front.
Loon Tao which translates to ‘waves of prosperity’ is an idyllic restaurant which resembles a nicely made up hut, the ones you see in picture post cards.
Our host for the evening was the friendly, jovial owner and founder of Loon Tao, Janaka Wimalananda.
Janaka has been associated with restaurants and foreign cuisines for a long time, having started his career in the industry in
As soon as we started talking, Janaka asked whether I was interested in discovering the side of Loon Tao that most people had not seen - or rather had chosen not to see - and I promptly agreed.
Instead of ordering the usual Sri Lankan favourite of garlic hot butter cuttle fish, we ventured into the pages of the menu which most diners are unfamiliar with.
I sampled garlic infused cucumber and simply loved the xihu beef soup - which was something between a broth and soup.
When a dish containing stir fried whole garoupa in papaya arrived, I was pleasantly surprised; the huge dish contained a fierce looking garoupa and a bowl of fish and papaya chunks.
Although this was the first main dish I had tried, it became an instant favourite. It was delicious. Loon Tao stands by its promise of fresh seafood and the combination of firm just-right papaya was unexpectedly great.
Janaka explained that the menu has over 200 dishes and also includes Master Chef Ye Zhou’s fusion dishes. After the first dish – which scored 10 points, I was determined to explore the Cantonese flavours.
Next up was sliced chicken with apple and fish fillet with mango which were both stir fry dishes and fantastic. The juicy, sweet mango complimented the tender fish fillet and brought out flavours I have never experienced before.
I also enjoyed the contrasting tastes of bean curd and prawns. But what caught my attention most, apart from the fierce garoupa, was the stir fried prawns with Chinese tea. A dish arrived with a pile of the fresh pink delicacies and a glass of Chinese tea turned upside down (on the side of the dish).
Although the prawns looked quite plain, it had a subtle Chinese tea flavor - unique and tasty! After that, I was directed to slowly lift the glass up so that the tea will mix with the stir fried prawns. The end result is still clearly etched on my mind. I never thought I would ever say this, but prawns and Chinese tea go good together!.
Another interesting dish was the BBQ bamboo rice which was served in a carved bamboo sprout. According to Jaaka, this is a hit with the diners.
My day’s task was complete and I would say that I experienced some of the best flavours Cantonese cuisine had to offer. In simple; I came, I saw and my belly conquered.
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