Hotel Rolex: Seriously Scrumptious Northern Sri Lankan Food in Jaffna

By Mark Wiens 27 Comments
Hotel Rolex Restaurant, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Hotel Rolex Restaurant, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

With a name like “Hotel Rolex,” there was little I could do but walk inside (this place is NOT associated with timepieces!).

A huge bright green entrance and a chef gesturing the double “A-Ok” on the sign, was way more than enough for me to come to a conclusion that they served delicious Sri Lankan food.

I was walking around the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna when I stumbled into this gem of a restaurant.

Note: Just so you know, throughout Sri Lanka restaurant’s are referred to as “Hotel’s.” They are not places to stay, but places to eat.

Jaffna Sri Lanka Food
Northern Sri Lanka Food

The smell of Sri Lankan spices and curries mixed with the humidity in the restaurant offered an irresistible therapeutic aroma.

Not having a clue of what to order, I just chatted with the friendly staff until this remarkable culinary artwork was delivered to the table.

It was heavenly…

…a Sri Lankan meal so good that I dug in with my hands and tuned out of the rest of the commotion in the loud man’s restaurant.

Sri Lankan Curry Squid
Sri Lankan Curry Squid

After seeing the selection of seafood loaded in the glass cabinet at the entrance of Hotel Rolex, I orded a small dish of squid curry.

It was superb, nicely rubbery and heavily spiced.

Delicious Meal at Hotel Rolex
Delicious Meal at Hotel Rolex

My meal at Hotel Rolex began with a plate of yellow rice that was topped with a series of curries.

The brinjal eggplant (the black stuff on the left), was one of my favorite things on the plate.

The eggplant is seared with salt, oil, sugar, and soy sauce to the point where it’s tender and bursting with flavor. If you visit Jaffna, you need to taste brinjal eggplant!

The entire meal was outstandingly tasty and comforting in a similar manner as a Chinese farm feast.

Paratha
Paratha

No full Sri Lankan meal would be complete without a few sides of paratha roti flatbread!

Shrimp Curry, Sri Lanka
Shrimp Curry, Sri Lanka

After devouring the squid with such happy results, I decided to sample the blackened shrimp.

They were pan-fried in soy sauce and sugar to obtain an excellent caramelized coating. They were on the greasy side, but apart from that, again Hotel Rolex came through with another mouth-watering dish.

Daal Curry, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Daal Curry, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Despite all the delicious Sri Lanka food, I just couldn’t believe how amazing they made daal curry.

Sri Lankan daal has to be some of the finest in the world. They have perfected their recipe of something simple just as Egyptian’s have perfected ful medames.

One reason the daal curry is so good is because they often cook it with coconut milk over a wood burning fire until it’s soft and almost creamy.

The Kitchen and "CHEF" at Hotel Rolex Restaurant
The Kitchen and "CHEF" at Hotel Rolex Restaurant

I ventured back into the kitchen at Hotel Rolex to meet the smiling chef.

Do you remember the chef depicted on the bright green front sign of Hotel Rolex (look back at the TOP photo)?

Not exactly the same chef, but in Sri Lanka, I’d definitely put my trust in a shirtless cook in wrap-around sarong!

The kitchen was absolutely sweltering, and I immediately started perspiring. The smells were overwhelmingly delicious.

Hotel Rolex Restaurant, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

  • Address: No. 340, Hospital Road, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
  • Prices: Huge piles of food are in the range of 200 LKR ($1.76) per person, for mixed rice, squid, shrimp curry

If you ever make it to Jaffna, make sure you dine at Hotel Rolex Restaurant!



27 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Meesalikeu

    3 months ago

    Mark I am late to the party here. I am lucky to work in Staten Island where we have a great deal of Sri Lankan food and groceries, but nothing even remotely close to Hotel Roti. I will dream of this place and I hope to visit the island and India someday. Thanks for this and your Sri Lankan food thread. I’ve eaten many dishes, but some I am afraid can only be found in Sri Lanka and while unfortunately we all miss out that is as it should be.

  • Manu

    2 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    Brinjal is the Indian English/Sri Lankan English word for eggplant. So “brinjal eggplant” is redundant, like saying “aubergine eggplant”. 🙂

    Maybe you thought “brinjal eggplant” was the name of that particular eggplant dish?

    Good to read your blog, as always!

  • VJ

    3 years ago

    I am from Jaffna and it’s great hear you loved the food. If you happen to visit next time then I would recommend you to try mutton curry and the “special ice cream”.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi VJ, great to hear from you, thank you for the future recommendations, I would love to visit again in the future.

  • Krobelus06

    5 years ago

    The dishes really look so good to eat.. I love to look of the shrimp.. It really made me hungry.. 🙂

  • Janice034

    6 years ago

    Sri Lanka foods are really tasting good! How I wish to taste that Shrimp Curry, looks so yummy and I can’t help my self but to crave for this food! Thanks for sharing the pictures…

  • PigeonForgeCabins

    6 years ago

    That looks like some good food. I am now considering spending my summer down there in Sri Lanka and enjoy the food and culture.

  • Eugene

    6 years ago

    It’s no wonder Chef needs the XXL Sarong. Just look at the awesome food he’s faced with every day! I didn’t see any drinks on the table. Did you get to wash your meal down with something interesting?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hahaha, yes! I drank water all the way until the end when I orded up a wood apple fruit shake? Have you ever had wood apple? It’s kind of a cross between tamarind and blue cheese – a little strange but pretty good!

  • Lakmal

    6 years ago

    I love that Shrimp Curry. Sri Lanka is the best place to have a delicious meal for low cost.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah, Sri Lanka really does have great food for cheap!

  • Dean

    6 years ago

    Yum! The squid and daal sounds particularly appealing to me.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Cool Dean, both of those are delicious choices!

  • kyh

    6 years ago

    oh am a sucker for dhal! this makes me incredibly hungry! :S

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      I am too Kyh, and I really think that Sri Lanka has some of the best dhal I’ve ever tasted!

  • sully86

    6 years ago

    mark: that looks sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Haha, thanks Sully!

      • prem

        5 years ago

        mark you need to visit south india(tamil nadu) man ,thats not sri lankan food thats tamil food!!

        • Mark Wiens

          5 years ago

          Hey Prem, yes, in very northern Sri Lanka! Would love to visit South India.

        • Near

          4 years ago

          Sri lankan food = Tamil food + Sinhalease food
          So this is Sri lankan food too 😉

      • prem

        5 years ago

        thats not paratha thats called parotta