25 September 2020 was a day to remember in Colombo’s foodscape, when the much-hyped MOB restaurant opened its doors to the public. Unique in Colombo’s burgeoning food sphere, Mass of Bees or MOB, as it is popularly known, intends to stand out both as a result of its cuisine as well as its one-of-a-kind theme.
The brainchild of A.A. Lakshman Silva, who, along with Priyanthi Abeyweera and business magnate Dasun Wickramarathna, conceptualised the idea of a restaurant based on the history of Negombo, one of the country’s most populous and historic cities; the very name MOB itself has a history. According to Silva: “The original idea was to launch a chain of restaurants in Negombo, centred on its association with bees; the Sinhala name for Negombo being Mīgamuva, meaning ‘mass of bees’ – Negombo being thus named owing to the swarm of bees that settled on the first Portuguese boat that was put ashore in Negombo. This idea gestated for a while, but instead we decided to bring the history of Negombo into the heart of Colombo, which has led to the creation of “Mass of Bees” or MOB, under the ETM Leisure banner,” said Silva.
Silva began his career in the hospitality industry in year 1987 at the Riverina Hotel. From there he joined Mount Lavinia Hotel and moved on to Taj Samudra and Eden Resorts, respectively. He then went overseas to take up a stint at the Dubai Grand Hotel, followed by Best Western Hotels and Le Méridian Hotel. He counts his 10-plus years in Dubai as amongst the most rewarding of his career, as it gave him the opportunity to work and associate with over 20 different nationalities from all parts of the world.
Heading the team behind MOB is, of course, that all-important person, Chef Dudley Nanayakkara, who brings his almost-40-year career as a culinary wizard and master chef to the fore, as he whips up a menu that is truly and an unforgettable treat for the most discerning palette. Perennial favourites such as Negombo pork curry, baked crab, Jaffna crab with murunga leaves, the ever-popular submarines and burgers, an array of Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Chinese favourites, street food, sizzlers, as well traditional Italian favourites such as ravioli in green pesto sauce, spaghetti carbonara, prawns provencale, and many others are on offer.
Located in the heart of Colombo at the prestigious Atrium building on Balapokuna Road in Colombo 5, MOB is set to take on Colombo’s gourmands! Featuring an exceptional menu, MOB has a refreshingly unique atmosphere. The restaurant is located in a vortex of natural airflow, eliminating the need for artificial air conditioning, thus enhancing the “au naturel” dining experience!
The launch of MOB on Friday, 25 September was indeed a memorable experience, while the food served was unparalleled. Present at the opening were a number of celebrities, including present and past cricketers, hoteliers, singers, and entertainers.
Capable of accommodating 96 persons at any given time, MOB’s cuisine is ambitious to say the least. With a staff of four speciality chefs as well as restaurant staff, MOB will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and promises to be the ultimate culinary experience. Outside catering too will be part of the services offered.
When asked about the future of MOB and what lies ahead for the brand, Silva said: “Currently, we have three hotels under construction; a 108-room hotel in Sigiriya due to open in January 2021, a 54-room hotel in Nuwara Eliya scheduled to open in 2022, and a 196-room hotel in Negombo scheduled to open its doors in April 2021. All of them are full service apartment hotels as we feel that this will be the future trend.”