I finally made it to Rambutan, London’s newest Sri Lankan restaurant which has been on my radar for a while now. I had been following every update on Instagram with unfettered zeal.
Cynthia Shanmugalingam, the founder of Rambutan came into my consciousness a long time ago when she had a spot at Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express. Asma regularly let out her restaurant on Sundays to up-and-coming chefs to host their supper clubs.
After that, I didn’t hear anything. That was it, I got on with my life, however, the Rambutan seed was planted and took root in my brain.
A new Sri Lankan cookbook published during Lockdown
Then during Lockdown, murmurs gathered ground. A new Sri Lankan cookbook was going to be published. (More on that next week).
And, what seemed like out of the blue there it was: Rambutan the cookbook. As the weeks rolled by Rambutan, the cookbook, gathered plaudits from the broadsheets and the foodie crowd. Cynthia hasn’t stood still. There was a restaurant open!
Opening a new restaurant just as we have moved out of an existence of pure pandemonium is a sheer act of bravery, perhaps even foolhardiness. But I have the feeling this was the dream and a dream that has to be lived.
Rambutan garners rave reviews
So finally after Rambutan had opened, and again picked up palate rattling reviews.
Rambutan is located in a prime spot, on Stoney Street, a mere shuffle from London Bridge station, opposite Borough Market. I told you prime.
Roll past the bars and you’ll see the bright yellow frontage, with pink writing. The menu in the window indicates good food awaits.
Rambutan serves food as sharing plates. The menu is small, always a good sign, and is divided into snacks, short eats, vegetables, meat & fish, dal, rice & rotis.
Rambutan seemed the perfect place to catch up with my Sri Lankan girlfriends, eat good Sri Lankan food and catch up on our lives.
What to eat when you visit Rambutan
While catching up, and attempting to decide on what to eat we nibbled our way through devilled cashew nuts and plantain chips and sipped on the arrack-based Rambutang cocktails.
We started with buttermilk fried chicken which is served with toasted bread and pol sambol, for us to assemble on mini sandwiches. I jumped straight for the chicken and sambol.
Gundu dosas are crispy, crunchy dosas moulded into balls, ready to be dipped in a spicy coriander chutney. All I can say – divine. And my mission is to create and make gundu dosas at home.
Next came the Sri Lankan dishes, the food we yearned for.
We finally decided on the red northern prawn curry, broccoli varai, pongal chicken, dal and roti. The pongal chicken is new to me.
Pongal is normally sweet, but this was soft, tender chicken cooked in pearly samba rice with a mild creamy sticky coconut sauce. It’s in the cookbook and I have to make this too!
Cynthia is doing something right, and shining a light on food, from the northern Tamil region of Sri Lanka. The flavours are warm, they gave me a warm snug feeling, a sense of home especially the dhal.
For me, the sign of a good Indian/Sri Lankan restaurant is how they cook their dhal. I don’t make dhal that way with pandan or coconut, my dhal is much more simple, but I’m willing to experiment, and challenge myself in my cooking.
Was Rambutan worth the wait? Yup.
Will I be back? Absolutely.
Should you go? Yes, book a table today!
Where to find Rambutan
10 Stoney StreetLondon SE1 9AD
A note on booking your table at Rambutan
A little note on booking. It can be hard to get an evening table which is why we opted for lunchtime. Rambutan does welcome walk-ins, but it’s better to book.
Bookings are open for a month at a time. I hope you get a spot!