|Born||9 November 1970|
|Alma mater||Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, U.S.|
|Television||Culinary 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. He was the host of the popular TV series Culinary Journeys with Dharshan.
Munidasa is a self-taught culinary expert, who prides himself on the fact that he never attended culinary school. His efforts in 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.
Early life and education
Dharshan Munidasa was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother, Nobuko Munidasa and Sri Lankan father, Dr. Milton Munidasa and spent most of his childhood in Japan, where his earliest experiments in cooking were upon observing his mother and Japanese aunts in the kitchen. 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, Munidasa went on to graduate with a Double Degree in Computer Engineering and International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University, USA in 1994. It was as a university student that he unearthed his passion for cooking - out of necessity - as he found the commercial cafeteria food uninspiring.
Munidasa returned to the island in 1994, following the death of his father, where the lack of authentic Japanese food in the country, combined with his heritage and passion for pure Japanese culinary fare motivated Munidasa, who had never had any formal culinary training, to open his maiden venture Nihonbashi (meaning "Japan Bridge") in 1995 at Galle Face Terrace.
Subsequently, he went on to open two more branches of Nihonbashi at Odel, Alexandra Place in 2001 for on-the-go dining and then at Hilton Colombo Residencies in 2002, specializing in tempura. 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.
In December 2011, Munidasa in collaboration with close friends, Sri Lankan Cricketing Legends Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara opened Ministry of Crab, housed in the recently refurbished 400-year-old ‘Old Dutch Hospital’ Shopping Precinct. This restaurant has the distinction of being one of the first in the country dedicated to serving the freshest export quality lagoon crabs.
In 2011, Nihonbashi became one of only two Sri Lankan restaurants selected to be featured in the 2011/2012 edition of The Miele Guide (Asia’s first independent restaurant guide). In their 2013 Edition, Munidasa had the privilege 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.
Nihonbashi also earned the prestige of being the first Sri Lankan restaurant to make it onto Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List and ranked consecutively on it from 2013 to 2018, Ministry of Crab also had the honour of being ranked on this prestigious list from 2015 to 2020. Further, in the 2016 edition of this list, Ministry of Crab took the title of The S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka, title it continues to hold to date. As of 2020, Ministry of Crab sits at no. 30 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List.
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. 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 the five people in the world to be given this prestigious award that year.
In July 2014, Munidasa opened his third restaurant Kaema Sutra, in partnership with Bollywood Actress Jacqueline Fernandez, plating up contemporary Sri Lankan cuisine. Previously situated at the Arcade Independence Square, the restaurant moved to the Shangri-La hotel, Colombo in December 2017.
In November 2014, Munidasa also opened The Tuna & The Crab at Dutch Hospital in Galle Fort in the South of Sri Lanka.The restaurant features a combination of flavours from his two flagship restaurants Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab, as well as original dishes. This was his first restaurant venture outside the capital city of Colombo.
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.
In 2017, Munidasa was awarded the Business Today Passionate Award, which recognized pioneering individuals, who single-handedly created novel concepts and succeeded in making them a reality and who have driven the economy of Sri Lanka in the same manner as the corporate sector.
Munidasa expanded Ministry of Crab on an international level by opening the first overseas restaurant in Shanghai at the People's Park in October 2018. In 2019, Ministry of Crab opened four more restaurants - Ministry Crab Manila at Shangri-La, at the Fort Hotel in January, Ministry of Crab Mumbai at the Zaveri House in Khar in February, Ministry of Crab Maldives at the Marina @ CROSSROADS in October and Ministry of Crab Bangkok in Sukhumvit Soi - 31 in December.
His restaurant Nihonbashi has also extended to Kandy, with the establishment of Café Nihonbashi at the Radh Hotel in Kandy in 2018, as well as Nihonbashi Blue in the Maldives which opened in January 2020 (also at The Marina @ CROSSROADS).
Dharshan’s newest venture is Carne Diem at The Marina @ CROSSROADS in the Maldives, a steak restaurant in collaboration with acclaimed hotelier Renato Chizzola, Former VP Operations Asia/Middle East for Cheval Blanc and GM of Cheval Blanc Randheli. Opened in 2020, this innovative concept focuses on a unique charcoal grill created by Munidasa himself, that finishes a steak at a temperature of 750 ˚C. Carne Diem also uses cast iron pans that handle this high temperature to create the now-famous beef crackling.
In 2010, Munidasa paired up with leading English channel ETV to co-produce and host "Culinary Journeys 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 mainly filmed in Sri Lanka and Japan ran for two seasons until 2011. An episode of this show which was filmed in Singapore around the famous Chilli Crab made with exported Sri Lankan mud crab, was consequently what inspired Munidasa to open a restaurant which pays homage to the Sri Lankan mud crab in their home country.
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.
Munidasa has one child, a daughter, named Shanaia born in 1996.
- "MINISTRY OF CRAB AND NIHONBASHI CELEBRATE ASIA'S 50 BEST RESTAURANT RANKINGS" (PDF). Business Today. April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "WGS 2017 | Chefs | Dharshan Munidasa". www.worldgourmetsummit.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Haris. , "Nihonbashi: An insight into top Japanese cuisine", "The Island", Colombo, Retrieved on 18 July 2013.
- "Experience Exceptionality With Dharshan Munidasa | The Sunday Leader". www.thesundayleader.lk. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- De Silva, Manik. "Chef’s Roots stand out in Sri Lanka food Scene", "The Japan Times", Tokyo, 22 March 2013
- "Nihonbashi - Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2013", Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, England, Retrieved on 19 July 2013.
- Innasithamby, Danu. "Buzz withDanu", "[[The Daily Mirror]]", Colombo, 25 January 2012.
- Kellapatha, Sarah. "Nihonbashi Celebrates 18 years", "[[TheDaily Mirror]]", Colombo, 4 July 2013.
- [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.
- "VIth Anniversary Dinner", "The International Wine & Food Society", London, Retrieved on 19 July 2013
- "C&W: Ministry of Crabs". www.cricketandwicket.com. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
- 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
- [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
- [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
- [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
- [http://www.theworlds50best.com/asia/en/ "Asia's 50 Best Restaurants"], "[[Asia's 50 Best Restaurants]]"
- [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
- [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
- "Asia's Best Restaurants: Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi ranked 29th, 49th". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Asia's best 50 restaurants in 2015". CNN Travel. 9 March 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Ministry of Crab". UI - 50B - Restaurants - Asia. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Ministry of Crab". Asia EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Ministry of Crab". Asia EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Ministry of Crab". Asia EN. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Japanese Ambassador Commends Nihonbashi Founder", The Daily Mirror, Colombo, 14 December 2013
- [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
- [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
- Lu, Milan. ,"Sri Lankan food, taken seriously ", Ceylon Today, Colombo, 20 July 2014, Retrieved on 29 July 2014
- "Kaema Sutra shines at Shangri-La Colombo | FT Online". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "Less.Talk.Travel.More". Less.Talk.Travel.More (in German). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- "?". Daily News. Colombo. 26 December 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2015.[dead link]
- "BUSINESS TODAY -The Business Today Passionate". businesstoday.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Ministry of Crab begins global culinary journey in Shanghai | Daily FT". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Ministry of Crab opens in Manila, Philippines | Daily FT". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- Dey, Panchali. "Ministry of Crab opens in Mumbai, and our wait is finally over". Times of India Travel. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Ministry of Crab opens in the Maldives". Explore Sri Lanka - Once discovered, you must explore...... 1 November 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "'Ministry of Crab' brings costly crustacean delights to Bangkok". Coconuts. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Café Nihonbashi to open in Kandy | Daily FT". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Sri Lanka's award-winning restaurant Nihonbashi opens in Maldives | Daily FT". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- "Darshan breaks new ground with latest restaurant in Maldives | Daily FT". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- 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
- 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.
- Jacob, Yvonne (10 July 2020). "That crabby feeling!". JustUrbane. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- [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
- Heller, Charlie (28 October 2017). "Anthony Bourdain explores Sri Lanka's newfound peace in latest 'Parts Unknown' » Nation". Nation. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Sallay, Alvin (25 February 2018). "Crabs to Kaema Sutra – a heady mix for Dharshan Munidasa". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 12 April 2018.