The Harbour Room at Grand Oriental Hotel has just started a new offering for the foodies of Colombo. It's all about Spanish food and paella on Friday nights. In Spain, paella is the dish that unites the people. According to the Spanish, there are more paella recipes than there are stars in the sky! We dropped in at GoH recently to check out this paella offering.
This fine piece of architecture speaks of the country's colonial times. The spectacular view of Colombo Harbour makes the ambience of the 'Harbour Room' differ from the many dining venues you get around the city of Colombo. Sitting and watching the activities of the harbour is a very interesting sight. The view from this iconic building situated in the heart of the busiest part of Colombo, be it daytime or night is something special.
When you walk into the Harbour Room on a Friday night, what you will find is a buffet with a variety of paella as well as some fusion cuisine.
For those of us who are not so familiar with paella, let me explain what it is. Perfect paella is all about the rice: tender and never mushy, with a caramelized crust on the bottom of the pan, called a socarrat. The rice should be medium grain. Spanish rice is rounded and short; it absorbs liquid very well, and it stays relatively firm during cooking. A paella pan is wide, round, and shallow and has splayed sides. It has two looped handles and may dip slightly in the middle so the oil can pool there for the preliminary sautéing. The shape of the pan helps to ensure that the rice cooks in a thin layer.
There were seven varieties of paella featured and most of the buffet featured Spanish fare.
The Valencian Paella which is the original recipe consists of white rice, green beans, beef, chicken and it is seasoned with saffron and rosemary.
The Seafood Paella replaces the meat with seafood and doesn't have beans and green vegetables. It had a generous variety of seafood which was laid on top of the rice.
The Mixed Paella was a combination of meats, seafood and vegetables. Then there was the Vegetable Paella which was delicious and even a non vegetarian person wouldn't miss meat in the dish because it was quite flavoursome.
There was also Chicken Paella and Egg Paella. They were all tasty with strong flavours of each one's feature ingredient. My favourite was the Chicken Paella as the flavour was subtle and the chunks of chicken were juicy and scrumptious.
For soups, the buffet had a yummy white bean soup with crispy chicken.
The Pork Torta was a delicious dish that I really enjoyed and the Mediterranean Seafood Stew was also a real treat.
Then there were many other dishes including the Chicken Meatball Stew, Pasta with Prawns and Peppers, Buttered Vegetable and Potato Stew. They also had a station with Sri Lankan favourites such as hoppers, string hoppers, vegetable kottu, red rice, steamed rice, the regular chicken curry and a variety of vegetable curries.
Their vegetarian options were several and prepared well to tantalise your tastebuds.
Chef Eranda sat with us and spoke about paella and its preparations. The overall service was good.
Address: 2, York Street, Colombo 01
Telephone: (011) 2 320 320
Hours: 6:00PM to 10:00PM
PHOTOGRAPHS by Damith Wickremasinghe