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Cafe Kai

Hilton Hotel, Colombo 1

As far as hotel lobbies go, Kafe Kai provides a great vibe for work meetings, for anything else it's a tad too impersonal for our taste

Cafe Kai occupies the lobby of the Hilton Colombo. The decor is brown and shiny. I'm sorry, that's a terrible way of describing it. It has a quality that somehow makes your gaze slip over it, struggling to find purchase, like the face of a really efficient super spy or assassin.

I am wasting so much space writing about the decor because the food at the cafe was really disappointing. OK well, not THAT disappointing. But definitely quite mediocre.


The furniture, counters and other fixtures appear as if they are floating in space. Don't go here if you're tripping, or do. Whatevs. Don't do drugs.

This seems like a good place to take clients for a business meeting. They can be duly impressed by the Hilton, and the prices aren't actually that high. In fact, they are pretty competitively placed within the upmarket cafe bracket. I'm guessing because the security and intimidating presence of the Hilton already does a lot of work in keeping out the riff raff. Which, at least according to a personal theory of mine, is one reason price premiums are added on to basic things life coffee, tea, kadey paan etc. in certain establishments. That and the rent, taxes etc etc. We can discuss this over a coffee sometime. 


The flat white coffee (Rs. 590) wasn't bad. It's basically a capuccino with extra milk and froth. It came with a nice little Christmas tree painstakingly crafted on the top. A peice of art I took pleasure in destroying with gusto with my spoon. What? I'd just had a really tiring morning arguing the ethics of insurance industry with an insurance agent. 


I ordered an Overnight Muesli (Rs. 480) for breakfast. I don't know why I did this, maybe becase they didn't seem to have anything fresh? Anyway the oats were soggy, which is to be expected with overnight muesli. But the berry flavor it was supposed to come in was obviously not natural. As a result the whole thing tasted syrupy and artificial. They COULD have also added ingredients like rasins, nuts etc if they wanted to, but for some reason they didn't feel like it.

pictured: one solitary, lonely and not very tasty macaroon

I got a Coconut Macaroon (Rs. 150) to go with my coffee. I like macaroons a lot, and so was looking forward to eating it. Imagine my disappointment, especially after my already taxing morning, when this macaroon turned out to be crumbly and hard. The coconut flavor did have potential though. 

Then I tried the Almond Biscotti (Rs 290 for 100g), it looked really nice in its transparent plastic box, lying on a nice piece of plastic lace. Man, plastic things are looking remarkably realistic these days, fantastic for corporations looking to simultaneously achieve aesthetic authenticity while cutting costs. So long as their clients don't look closely and examine the broader ethics of sustainability and we'll all be happy. And isn't that what we all want in the end anyway? 

To get back to the biscotti, it wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't terrible. The almonds were reasonably generously spaced. 

The Roast Beef Sandwhich with Gouda cheese (Rs. 485) redeemed the kitchen somewhat. The gherkin adds a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet aftertaste which I thought wasn't quite balanced out, but that's just like my opinion bro. You might feel different. And that's OK, because you know what? we're all different. Don't let anyone tell you you're not special. Overall a decent sandwich for the price, somewhere between a snack and a full meal. 

They serve a range of sweets, sandwiches, burgers, empanadas etc as well. I just didn't have the room, nor the inclination, to try any of it. 


Has nothing in common with the mediocrity of the food. Full points.


What can I say? Except that the highly contrived, interested expression of the Sri Lankan guy entertaining two Japanese guests said it all. Actually, no it didn't. I've heard great things about the cake Cafe Kai makes, you can call them to order, but note that I haven't tried them. This review was about the cafe experience only, which wasn't all that spectacular. But if you're looking to have a meeting at a suitably impressive location at a reasonable price, and you don't really need the food to blow your mind, this is the place for you. 

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