FOUNDER | OWNER | CHEF
Dharshan Munidasa's love affair with food began, as he likes to put it, on the other side of the plate - eating. Despite having no formal culinary training, Dharshan returned to Sri Lanka from university and founded Nihonbashi, recognizing an unmet need for authentic Japanese cuisine. Over the last 2 decades, Dharshan has been intricately involved in every aspect of the restaurant, from creating new dishes to sourcing fresh ingredients, ensuring that Nihonbashi is now widely considered one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sri Lanka and beyond.
He has gone on to become Sri Lanka’s most renowned chef-restaurateurs, having founded some of the most well-known restaurants in Sri Lanka and Maldives; Ministry of Crab, Kaema Sutra and Carne Diem, as well as for his role as the host of the popular TV series “Culinary Journeys with Dharshan”. He has travelled extensively, hosting pop-up restaurants in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Maldives, India, UK, France, UAE, and Australia.
The simplicity of Japanese cuisine highlights the quality of the ingredients used and Dharshan, who is of mixed Japanese and Sri Lankan heritage, is very conscious of the ingredients he uses in his restaurants. He often visits the Negombo Fish market to select the best of Sri Lanka’s everyday catch and the fisheries harbour to select export quality tuna before it is shipped to the famous Tsukiji ¬fish market in Tokyo; a hands-on, grass roots task which many chef-owners would delegate.
From creating original dishes, to sourcing ingredients, Dharshan’s hands-on involvement and his meticulous attention to detail have ensured the consistently high standards of his restaurants. In his TV series “Culinary Journeys with Dharshan”, he has consistently aimed to educate the public about the quality of ingredients, particularly seafood found locally. Dharshan feels that teaching the public is a role which not enough restaurateurs undertake. For staying true to the roots of Washoku, Dharshan was the first non-Japanese chef to be featured on the Japanese TV series Nippon Shokudo for TV Tokyo in 2011, which was filmed in Sri Lanka at Nihonbashi Restaurant. He has also been featured on episodes of Rick Stein’s Far East Odyssey on BBC, UK, and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN.
Considered an innovator in his field, Dharshan is known to push boundaries, and this has resulted in Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab being the only two Sri Lankan restaurants to ever have made it into ‘Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’. Dharshan has the distinction of being the second chef-owner to have had two restaurants on this prestigious list.
Moreover, being of Japanese-Sri Lankan descent, Dharshan’s contribution to Japanese Culture was recognized by the Japanese government when he was presented with The Minister’s Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food for the year 2014. Dharshan is also an ambassador for ‘Cool Japan’, appointed by the Japanese government for spreading Japanese culture overseas. In 2021 Dharshan was appointed as a “Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador" by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan, for his continuous effort towards the dissemination of Japanese food and dietary culture overseas.