Dharshan Munidasa

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Dharshan Munidasa
Chef Dharshan Munidasa.jpg
Dharshan Munidasa holding Sri Lankan Lagoon Crabs
Born (1970-11-09) 9 November 1970 (age 49)
Tokyo, Japan
Alma materThe Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA
TelevisionCulinary Journeys with Dharshan (2011)

Dharshan Munidasa (born 9 November 1970) is a Sri Lankan chef, restaurateur and television personality. He founded Nihonbashi and the Ministry of Crab, two of Sri Lanka’s most successful restaurants, both of which are the only Sri Lankan restaurants on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants List.[1] He was the host of the popular TV series Culinary Journeys with Dharshan.[2]

Munidasa is a self-taught culinary expert, who prides himself on the fact that he never attended culinary school.[3] His efforts promoting Japanese Cuisine in Sri Lanka earned him recognition from the Japanese Government for which he was awarded The Minister’s Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food for the year 2014.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Dharshan Munidasa was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Sri Lankan Father, Dr. Milton Munidasa and Japanese Mother, Nobuko Munidasa, spending most of his childhood in Japan,[5] where his earliest experiments in cooking were observing his mother and Japanese aunts in the kitchen.[6] He is the eldest of three children; he has a younger brother, Kanishka and a younger sister, Dulee.

After completing his primary and secondary education at St. Joseph's College, Colombo and Wycherley International School,[7] Munidasa went on to graduate with a Double Degree in Computer Engineering and International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University, USA in 1994.[3] It was as a university student that he unearthed his passion for cooking - out of necessity - as he found the commercial cafeteria food not palatable.[5]


Munidasa returned to the island in 1994, after the death of his father, where the gap in the market combined with his heritage and passion for pure Japanese culinary fare motivated Munidasa,[8] who had never had any formal culinary training to open his maiden venture Nihonbashi (meaning "Japan Bridge") in 1995 at Galle Face Terrace, focusing on providing the most authentic Japanese food in Sri Lanka.[3]

Subsequently, he went on to open two more branches of Nihonbashi at ODEL, Alexandra Place in 2001 for on-the-go dining and at Hilton Colombo Residencies in 2002, specializing in tempura.[9] Munidasa has also been invited to prepare Japanese degustation dinners at various establishments in South Asia; including the Conrad, The Four Seasons, Hilton, Huvafen fushi, and the Six Senses properties, all in the Maldives, and for the International Wine and Food Society in Mumbai.[9][10]

In December 2011, Munidasa in collaboration with close friends, Sri Lankan Cricketing Legends Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara opened the Ministry of Crab,[11] housed in the recently refurbished 400-year-old ‘Old Dutch Hospital’ Shopping Precinct.[12] This restaurant has the clear distinction of being one of the first in the country dedicated to serving the freshest export quality lagoon crabs.[13]

In 2011, Nihonbashi was one of only two Sri Lankan restaurants selected to feature in the 2011/2012 edition of The Miele Guide (Asia’s first independent restaurant guide).[14] In their 2013 Edition, Munidasa has the distinction of gaining both the coveted first and second place in Sri Lanka for the outstanding cuisine at both the Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi, respectively.[15]

Nihonbashi also had the prestige of being the first Sri Lankan restaurant to have ever made it into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List,[16] and has ranked consecutively from 2013 to 2018,[17][18][19][20] Ministry of Crab was also honoured to be ranked on this prestigious list from 2015 to 2019.[19] Further, in the 2016 edition of this list, Ministry of Crab took the title of The S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka which it retained in 2017 to 2019.[21][22][23] On the 2019 edition of the list Ministry of Crab sits at no.35.[24]

As recognition for his contribution to Japanese Culture, Munidasa was awarded the Japanese Ambassador's Special Commendation by the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka in December 2013.[25] Dharshan was also recognized by the Japanese government when he was awarded The Minister’s Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food for the year 2014, becoming one of five in world to be given this prestigious award that year.[26][27]

In July 2014, Munidasa opened his third restaurant Kaema Sutra, in partnership with Bollywood Actress Jacqueline Fernandez.[28] Previously situated at the Arcade Independence Square, the restaurant which specializes in contemporary Sri Lankan cuisine moved to the Shangri-La hotel, Colombo in December 2017.[29]

In November 2014, Dharshan also opened The Tuna and The Crab at Dutch Hospital in Galle Fort, which features a combination of flavours from his two flagship restaurants Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab and was his first restaurant venture outside the capital city of Colombo.[30]

Dharshan also launched his own green juice which utilizes Gotukola as its primary ingredient. Gotukola juices and the various methods of preparation have been a part of tradition for a long time in Sri Lanka. Dharshan's Gotukola drink is named Centella after its scientific name, and contains no water and no added sugars or sweeteners.[31]

In 2018, Dharshan together with Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara stepped into the second phase of their food and beverage journey by opening a Sports Lounge, Next Innings also located at the Old Dutch Hospital Colombo.


Munidasa made his first television appearance in 2009 on the Sri Lankan Episode of Rick Stein’s Far East Odyssey on BBC, UK.[32]

In 2010, Munidasa paired up with leading English Channel ETV to co – produce and host “Culinary Journey’s with Dharshan”, a culinary travelogue that took viewers a step forward beyond an ordinary culinary experience, to places far and wide in search of the best sources for the finest ingredients in Sri Lankan and Japanese cuisine. The show which was filmed in Sri Lanka and Japan ran for 2 seasons until 2011.[33]

Munidasa was one of five chefs - and the first non-Japanese chef - featured on season two of Nippon Shokudo for TV Tokyo in 2011. The episode focused on Nihonbashi Restaurant and Japanese Cuisine in Sri Lanka[34]

In 2017, he appeared Season 10’s Episode 6 of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown airing on CNN.[35]


In 2014, Munidasa was named as a Cool Japan Ambassador by the Japanese Government for his work towards the promotion of Japanese cuisine outside of Japan.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Munidasa has one child, a daughter, named Shanaia born in 1996.


  1. ^ "MINISTRY OF CRAB AND NIHONBASHI CELEBRATE ASIA'S 50 BEST RESTAURANT RANKINGS" (PDF). Business Today. April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  2. ^ "WGS 2017 | Chefs | Dharshan Munidasa". www.worldgourmetsummit.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Haris. , "Nihonbashi: An insight into top Japanese cuisine", "The Island", Colombo, Retrieved on 18 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Experience Exceptionality With Dharshan Munidasa | The Sunday Leader". www.thesundayleader.lk. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b De Silva, Manik. "Chef’s Roots stand out in Sri Lanka food Scene", "The Japan Times", Tokyo, 22 March 2013
  6. ^ "Nihonbashi - Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2013", Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, England, Retrieved on 19 July 2013.
  7. ^ Innasithamby, Danu. "Buzz withDanu", "[[The Daily Mirror]]", Colombo, 25 January 2012.
  8. ^ Kellapatha, Sarah. "Nihonbashi Celebrates 18 years", "[[TheDaily Mirror]]", Colombo, 4 July 2013.
  9. ^ a b [http://www.ft.lk/2011/06/25/nihonbashi-celebrates-16-years-of-fine-japanese-cuisine/, "Nihonbashi celebrates 16 years of fine Japanese cuisine"], "[[Daily FT]]", Colombo,25 June 2011.
  10. ^ "VITH ANNIVERSARY DINNER", "The International Wine & Food Society", London, Retrieved on 19 July 2013
  11. ^ "C&W: Ministry of Crabs". www.cricketandwicket.com. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  12. ^ Galappatti, Roshini. [http://lmd.lk/livingcolomboguide/2012/04/ministry-of-crab-2/ "Palatable Ministry: Roshini Galappatti gives in to conversion while exploring new tastes at the Ministry of Crab", "[[LivingColombo Guide]]", Colombo, March - April 2012, Retrieved on 19 July 2013
  13. ^ [http://www.sundaytimes.lk/121223/plus/ministry-of-crab-sinks-its-claws-into-restaurant-scene-25332.html"Ministry of Crab sinks its claws into restaurant scene"],"[[The Sunday Times]]",Colombo, 23 December 2012, Retrieved on 18 July 2013
  14. ^ [http://exploresrilanka.lk/2011/12/nihonbashi-featured-in-the-miele-guide/ "Nihonbashi Featured in the Miele Guide"], "[[Explore SriLanka]]", December 2011, Colombo, Retrieved on 18 July 2013
  15. ^ [http://www.ft.lk/2013/02/05/ministry-of-crab-and-nihonbashi-top-miele-guide-2013-rankings/ "Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi top Miele Guide 2013Rankings"], "[[Daily FT]]", Colombo, 5 February 2013, Retrieved on 19 July 2013
  16. ^ [http://www.theworlds50best.com/asia/en/ "Asia's 50 Best Restaurants"], "[[Asia's 50 Best Restaurants]]"
  17. ^ [http://www.ft.lk/2013/03/14/nihonbashi-named-one-of-asias-best-restaurants/"Nihonbashi named one of Asia’s best restaurants"], "[[Daily FT]]", Colombo, 14 March 2013, Retrieved on 18 July 2013
  18. ^ [http://www.ft.lk/2014/03/07/nihonbashi-on-asias-top-50-list-again,"Nihonbashi on Asia’s top 50 list again"],"[[Daily FT]]",Colombo,7 March 2014, Retrieved on 29 July 2014
  19. ^ a b "Asia's Best Restaurants: Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi ranked 29th, 49th". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Asia's best 50 restaurants in 2015". CNN Travel. 9 March 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  21. ^ http://theworlds50best.asia. "Ministry of Crab". ASIA EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  22. ^ http://theworlds50best.asia. "Ministry of Crab". ASIA EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  23. ^ http://theworlds50best.asia. "Ministry of Crab". ASIA EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Two Sri Lankan restaurants on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list". Daily News. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Japanese Ambassador Commends Nihonbashi Founder", The Daily Mirror, Colombo, 14 December 2013
  26. ^ [http://www.ft.lk/article/374881/Dharshan-Munidasa-honoured-for-dedication-to-Japanese-cuisine], "[[Daily FT]], Colombo, 13 December 2014, Retrieved on 27 July 2015
  27. ^ [http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/minister-s-award-overseas-promotion-japanese-food], "[[Daily News (Sri Lanka)|Daily News]], Colombo, 12 December 2014, Retrieved on 27 July 2015
  28. ^ Lu, Milan. [1],"Sri Lankan food, taken seriously ", Ceylon Today, Colombo, 20 July 2014, Retrieved on 29 July 2014
  29. ^ "Kaema Sutra shines at Shangri-La Colombo | FT Online". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Less.Talk.Travel.More". Less.Talk.Travel.More (in German). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  31. ^ "?". Daily News. Colombo. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2015.[dead link]
  32. ^ Fernandopulle,Natasha, [http://www.sundaytimes.lk/090809/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_03.html “A thousand sushi specials!”],”[[The Sunday Times]]”, Colombo,9 August 2009, Retrieved on 18 July 2013
  33. ^ Daniel, Smriti. [http://www.sundaytimes.lk/100815/Magazine/sundaytimesmagazine_01.html “Cooking up more than a tasty dish”], “[[TheSunday Times]]”, Colombo, 15 August 2010, Retrieved on 19th July 2013.
  34. ^ [http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp.e.ck.hp.transer.com/contents/newtitle/110214.html “We discover very much in world unexplored region! Nippon Shokudo 2”], “[[TV Tokyo Digital]], Tokyo, 26 August 2011, Retrieved on 18 July 2013
  35. ^ Heller, Charlie (28 October 2017). "Anthony Bourdain explores Sri Lanka's newfound peace in latest 'Parts Unknown' » Nation". Nation. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  36. ^ Sallay, Alvin (25 February 2018). "Crabs to Kaema Sutra – a heady mix for Dharshan Munidasa". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 12 April 2018.

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