Lunch at Chena Huts by Uga Escapes

Chena Huts by Uga Escapes, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Words: Kirsten Durward    Photos: Monica Tindall

Before a game drive in Yala we enjoy lunch at Chena Huts by Uga Escapes.  315 km from Colombo International Airport, Chena Huts offer a spectacular location, which takes advantage of all the natural beauty and wildlife viewing opportunities offered in Yala. Stepping out on the wide deck overlooking the sand dunes, I can’t help but feel the quiet spirit of the place to be both restful and invigorating. Basses restaurant takes its name from the surrounding reefs and lighthouses, one of which is pointed out to us on the horizon. This is certainly a wild and natural spot with sea on one side and thorn bush on the other. We have a short tour of the property, which is quite spectacular though very understated and eco friendly, being barely visible as the style blends so well with the natural environment.

Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
This Way to Chena Huts
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Beach One Side and National Park the Other
Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
Reception at Chena Huts
Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
Restaurant at Chena Huts

Nestled in the dunes above the whitest of white beaches, flanked on one side by a saline lake and fringed on the other by sultry jungle, resident guests are treated to a range of personal animal viewing that is second to none. Turtles lay their eggs on the beach by moonlight, by day, elephants frolic in the surf. Birders will be happy with sightings of Ibis, painted storks, flamingoes and more.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Chena Huts Accommodation
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Jacuzzi at Chena Huts
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Lagoon View from Chena Huts
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Lagoon Pool, Chena Huts

Lunch is a set menu, which changes daily. Executive Chef Holgar Joost takes pride in local and organic sourcing, with only the beef and lamb coming from overseas. Uga Escapes has its own organic farm so their properties are always well supplied with delicious healthy vegetables. Chef explains that menus are only designed after the daily catch has been viewed, so the seafood is all extremely fresh, but also, when it’s gone it’s gone. Guests can always choose an option of Sri Lankan Curry but much as I love it, we are seeing a lot of it so choose to vary the post descriptions.

We are off to a fine start with a range of house-baked breads, fresh butter and a chickpea dip. I particularly like the cumin encrusted rolls. It’s the best European style bread we’ve found in Sri Lanka so far.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
House Baked Bread Rolls

We sigh over the elegant serving of smoked salmon wrapped cream cheese rondavels, which are elegantly presented with a scattering of capers, grapes, slivers of tomato and teeny cubes of pineapple salsa. It’s a classic offering with a tropical twist in the presentation.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Salmon and Cream Cheese

Our second starter, thinly sliced vegetables grilled and lightly caramelized with balsamic are prettily plated with a finish of fresh herbs. We’re happy with the texture, taste and variety of the dish.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Grilled Veggies

I almost don’t need a main course after the delightful starters and generous serving of rich beef broth which comes next as part of the set lunch. It’s stuffed with tiny chopped vegetables and delicate cubes of beef, and feels full of earthy goodness.

‘This is delicious!’ says Mon of the stuffed bacon wrapped chicken roulade with baby vegetables. And indeed it is, juicy and nicely seasoned.Wrapping things in bacon is always a good idea! Crunchy vegetables and a smattering of potato in a mustardy sauce enhance the dish with a welcome scattering of fresh herbs.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Fresh from Sri Lankan waters, the locally caught lobster was swimming in the ocean only hours ago. This rather large crustacean is served up with a topping of creamy cheesy Thermidor sauce, flavoured with bay leaves. All the hard work has been done with the meat taken out and stuffed back in. We guess this is at least 600g of lobster meat and we are fully satisfied with the moreish pesto pasta on the side and a light fresh salad atop.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Dessert is a baked cheesecake with strawberries and ice cream or a platter of Sri Lanka’s delicious fresh fruits. All in all it is a very filling lunch.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Fruit Platter
Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
Baked Cheesecake

Reasons to visit: stunning location on edge of national park; safari-style sea views; delicious fresh food prettily plated; friendly smiling service.

Chena Huts by Uga Escapes
Yala, Sri Lanka
+94 47 2267100

(Visited 224 times, 1 visits today)


  1. I wish I could have a morning dip in that Lagoon Pool!

  2. Very “UP MARKET”.
    Not real sure if I’d venture there to Sri Lanka, I really prefer the old name,
    Ceylon. Too much unrest, but I guess this place was far away from all that?
    What’s with the chocolate like sauce under the “Green Veggies”?????

    I guess that Lagoon view from the Chena Huts would need to be sprayed daily for
    Pretty smart bedroom facility and the food does the chefs proud – “very yummy for my tummy”. ( My new expression – ha ha)
    Hmmmmm – I’d have the think long and hard about ( if I now could) visit.
    Great review by Kirsten.
    El Colin Cordobes
    PS: I hope El Caning Cordobes is ready for Augusta – or shouldn’t I mention that????
    Starts tonight USA time.

    • Thank you for the compliment Colin. That is not chocolate sauce by the way but a balsamic dressing, very reduced and thick balsamic. Sri Lanka was delightful,, let’s not be colonial with Ceylon but refer to the country as it’s inhabitants want it to be called! I’d like to say that there is no unrest now in Sri Lanka and the people were just delightful. Friendly without being in your face! Monica and I were both impressed by the quality of service, the level of spoken interest, the number of people who had travelled and worked overseas, and their interest generally in self and country development. The biggest challenge was some of the distances covered so if I were planning a trip I would make it a longer trip or focus more on one area of the country.

  3. Wowwwww!!! I wouldn’t call those “huts”! Stunning! That lobster sure looks like killer!

    • The are certainly very lavishly furnished huts, but huts they are indeed, built on a traditional method. In Rwanda, even the palaces are huts, and they are huge multiroomed buildings 🙂

  4. A great getaway place to relax. Great food with lovely presentation!

  5. The lagoon is absolutely stunning!
    I quite like their “ceiling” fan. 🙂

  6. i love the look of the different bread rolls served at the beginning! 🙂

  7. Hello, what a beautiful place to visit and stay! The food looks delicious! Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

    • It was absolutely stunning, felt very privileged to visit this spot, And the food was yummy, particularly the lobster! You have a great day also 🙂

  8. wow for sure you had great time there as place look piece from heaven ,huts are really beautiful and food looks amazing thank you for great sharing have a blessed yummy day dear

  9. It certainly looks like an ideal setting for relaxation and a great meal!

  10. What a stunning place! We are planning to return to Sri Lanka (absolutely fell in love with it!) and will definitely go down to Yala next time. Not sure whether this place is more the honeymoon type rather than family-friendly!

    • It is truly honeymoon worthy, but they were so friendly there I am sure they would welcome families and imagine how much fun the kids would have in the lagoon pool!

  11. Sorry for my belated reply, Monica. I haven’t checked my blog during my holiday. Thank you for letting me know about your trip…I can’t wait to read your  entire reviews. This is such a stunning place! Have a lovely weekend ; -)

    • This was one of the most stunning spots we found on the trip. Sri Lanka has more than it’s share of beauty, but this location was unique.

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