Cafe on the 5th is one of Colombo’s long-standing cafés, popular for its wide menu spanning Italian, American and Sri Lankan cuisines. Once renowned among local Colombo residents for its chocolate-coated eclairs, the café has now become the standard go-to place for locals to bring foreign guests/visitors to sample local fare in a quiet, pleasant environment in the middle of a busy, exuberant city.
An old Sri Lankan friend (we used to work together in Kuala Lumpur) brought us here as we’d wanted to have hoppers, and especially egg hoppers for dinner, and Cafe on the 5th is reputed to make some of the best ones in town.
And, oh yes, the ones we got here certainly went beyond our expectations. Perfectly-prepared, and served with sweet, delicious seeni sambol/onion relish, ultra-spicy katta sambol/chili paste, and a tasty yellow lentil dhal curry/parippu.
I especially liked the egg hoppers (appa), with the eggs cooked sunny side up, their yolks perfectly molten & delicious.
Seeni sambol - the spicy-sweet caramelised onion relish that’s practically to-die for.
Katta sambol- this relish is the closest to Singaporean/Malaysian sambal chili paste (sans belacan).
Parippu - this is identical to the Tamilian paruppu which we’d serve with roti prata in Singapore/Malaysia.
We also ordered a chicken kottu roti which was the tastiest rendition we’d tasted so far. Basically shredded prata flatbread (called godamba roti in Sri Lanka), griddle-fried with vegetables (usually onions, cabbage, carrots), aromatics (ginger, spices), pre-cooked chicken (either curried or roasted), egg & curry sauce.
The preparation of kottu roti can be heard a few hundred yards away by its trademark clanging sound, as a kottu roti chef would use two large, squarish flat-metal spatulas to chop, pulverize and mix the mish-mash of ingredients on the metal griddle pan.
Plain hoppers, called appam or appa in Sinhalese - spongey-moist in the centre, with crisp, lacy edges:
It was a very satisfying meal & pretty filling. We finished off with bowls of fruit salad with ice-cream at the end:
Cafe on the 5th
108 5th Lane, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
Operating hours: 6am to 10.30pm daily