Seattle’s New Kottu Food Cart Serves Sri Lankan Street Food

Seattle’s New Kottu Food Cart Serves Sri Lankan Street Food

Right before Syd Suntha cooked at Seattle’s pioneering food items truck, Skillet, in its early times, he worked in the new music industry the rhythmic audio of him banging square blades that equally reduce and move all-around the foodstuff on the flattop of his new food cart, Kottu, bridges his two careers. “Dubstep teppanyaki,” he jokes, alluding to the Japanese tabletop cooking he cherished as a child. Like the Sri Lankan avenue food stuff he serves at his cart, teppanyaki will involve cooking dishes a la moment on a flattop grill straight in front of the client, which injects a small theater into providing foodstuff.

But as a substitute of shrimp flips, egg artwork, and onion volcanos, Suntha at the same time chops and cooks flaky flatbread with curry, veggies, and spices into kottu roti. The dish — some thing like fried rice created with bits of bread somewhat than grains of rice — combines the richness of lengthy-cooked cuts of meat with the substantial-warmth taste of the flattop and the curry leaf, cardamom, and mustard seed flavors of Sri Lanka.

Seattle diners may acknowledge Suntha’s pleasant smile from when he served them beverages at Rupee Bar or handed them foodstuff from any amount of foods vans he labored at over the last 12 yrs, such as his possess. In 2020, even though, he missing his stake in his personal business enterprise, an celebration rapidly adopted by obtaining divorced, shedding his residence, and currently being trapped in quarantine, “drinking way as well a great deal.”

A man stands behind a flat-top of a food cart wearing a teal sweater with a yellow tiger on it and a fur trapper hat.

Syd Suntha reconnected with his dad and mom through a difficult period in quarantine by cooking Sri Lankan meals with them, which led to him opening Kottu.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Suntha essential a daily life alter. He sobered up, stopped smoking cigarettes, and mended his marriage with his loved ones — which encouraged him to open up a foodstuff cart that attracts on the delicacies of his heritage. Even though his dad and mom make “the very best meals [he’s] ever eaten,” he experienced in no way cooked Sri Lankan foodstuff prior to. “Since culinary college, I’ve largely cooked American good dining or American street food stuff,” he suggests. So mastering to prepare dinner household dishes grew to become an avenue to reconnect with his mom and dad.

Suntha was straight away drawn to kottu roti, served from late-night time stands on the South Asian island, so he named his cart, which released in March, just after the dish. Even while he stopped consuming, he didn’t drop his celebration instincts. “I adore the drunk foodstuff aspect of it,” Suntha suggests. He also beloved the food’s nostalgic resemblance to the teppanyaki at the restaurant he went to for childhood birthdays.

Suntha grew up in St. Louis, where his 1st work was at Chick-Fil-A, before he moved into the audio marketplace. He learned to cook on tour, which inevitably led him to enroll in culinary university. When Suntha moved to the Seattle area, he took a job at a significant-close restaurant in Bellevue but quickly recognized he most popular the fast tempo of his meals truck facet-gig. “It’s like a punk-rock band versus U2,” he states. “The food stuff was so goddamn great, and it was not pretentious, and you discovered that you never have to comply with any regulations.”

One of the aspects of cooking kottu roti Suntha is most enthusiastic about is that he cooks it in a number of minutes with the shopper suitable in front of him. “I actually love the thought of speaking to persons,” he suggests. “We’re likely to have a dialogue no matter if you want to or not.”

Right after paying out time in quarantine and heading by means of a dim period that created him cautious of even his established friendships, he says he forgot what it was like to discuss to folks experience-to-experience. But now, he embraces interaction. “It’s intriguing, just conference persons.”

A pile of red-colored shrimp and chopped flatbread garnished with shredded scallions, chopped peanuts, and a slice of lime on a red lacquer plate.

Kottu’s blackened shrimp curry kottu roti.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

A beige chicken curry drizzled with lime-green sauce and topped with crushed red Flamin Hot Cheetos on a white plate.

Kottu’s mango hen curry kottu roti, served with cilantro-lime-pickle yogurt sauce and crushed Flamin Hot Cheetos.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Kottu’s menu options a rotation of 3 or 4 variations of the dish every single night, with solutions like mango chicken, lamb, beef, saag, and jackfruit kottu roti — each blended on the flattop and chopped with vegetables, the flaky flatbread, and spices, very similar to the late-night put up-consuming versions Suntha remembers from Sri Lanka. (“And a shit-ton of condiments,” he adds.) Suntha programs to inventory Ballyhoo sizzling sauces (a corporation he launched) but also would like to collaborate with other cooks on innovative toppings for people to costume their dishes with. He’ll also provide a consume or two and hopes to add a flat-prime dessert at some place — he has been playing with spins on gulab jamun that use pandan syrup or a boozy baba au rhum mash-up, as properly as a dessert kottu built with sweeter bread.

He promises that a single issue individuals can rely on is that it won’t be common or simple. “The cart menu will constantly transform based on new procedures I understand, whatsoever is in year, and what ever seems scrumptious.”

Kottu, the cart, is the mix of two tales, Suntha states: “One is me having out my shit and being in the happiest position I’ve at any time been in my daily life.” The other is about kottu roti, the dish he serves, a resourceful way to use up leftover bread by mixing it with curry. “It’s every little thing in a single awesome very little bowl,” suggests Suntha.

Kottu serves at gatherings and pop-up destinations all over the metropolis, with updates posted on the site.