Chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam to open Sri Lankan restaurant Rambutan

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Chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam to open Sri Lankan restaurant Rambutan

Related tags Cynthia Shanmugalingam Rambutan Sri lanka Restaurant

British-Sri Lankan chef Cynthia Shanmugalingam will open her debut restaurant in London this October.

Called Rambutan, the Borough Market restaurant will be heavily inspired by Shanmugalingam’s Tamil roots and her many summers spent cooking with her family in Sri Lanka. It will serve village-style Sri Lankan food with a focus on regional dishes traditionally found in the north of the country.

The 60-cover restaurant will be spilt over two floors with a ground floor dining room and eight-seater downstairs bar. Design aspects will include hand-loomed, geometric textiles and prints from female weavers, sustainable Ceylon teak chairs and hand painted ceramic tiles.

Using produce direct from neighbouring suppliers in Borough Market, Rambutan will serve a daily changing menu that will feature street food snacks eaten in the north’s cultural capital Jaffna, including aged mutton rolls, and spicy fish malu buns - a triangle shaped soft bun with a curried potato and fish filling.

Vegetable dishes will include daikon and mint sambol; carrot and lime kosambari salad; and aubergine pahi, with larger meat and fish plates such as grilled lamb chops; Jaffna crab fried rice with bitter greens; and grilled mackerel with turmeric and tamarind. 

Rambutan will also offer a seasonal selection of authentic curries including cashew nut; black coconut pineapple; pickled pork; and red beef and bone marrow, as well as classic and egg hoppers, dosas and rotis.

“Rambutan has been a long time in the making, and I can’t wait to get everyone tasting the food of my family and my Tamil roots,” says Shanmugalingam.

“London’s Sri Lankan diaspora is doing amazing things in music, fashion and art right now, and I hope that with Rambutan, I can add food to that list. It’s really exciting to draw on our ancient heritage, but also to create dishes that are entirely new.

“I believe I’m the first British-Sri Lankan female chef to open a restaurant in central London, and I’m just thrilled to be able to represent the extraordinary creativity and warm hospitality of all the Sri Lankan women who taught me how to cook.

“To do it in London’s oldest and most famous food market surrounded by all this amazing produce is a bit of a dream come true. I hope that the opening will broaden the conversation around British food here in London.”

Rambutan joins a growing number of Sri Lankan restaurants​ to open in prime locations within the capital in the past couple of years, including Hoppers​, Kolamba​, and Paradise Soho​.

Ahead of the restaurant opening, on 17 June Rambutan will open Rambutan Ice, a soft serve pop up in collaboration with Soft ’n’ Swirly, which will be responsible for desserts at the restaurant when it opens in October.

The pop up will serve a rotating line up of Sri Lankan flavoured ice creams, beginning with ‘kithul nuts’ - an homage to cult Sri Lankan Jaffna ice cream parlour Rio Ice Cream, made with artisanal jaggery syrup and cashew nuts. This will be followed by flavours such as Alphonso mango; buffalo curd and jaggery; coconut and toasted rice; pineapple; spiced Ceylon tea; Milo; and banana.

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