Seattle’s New Kottu Meals Cart Serves Sri Lankan Road Meals

Just before Syd Suntha cooked at Seattle’s pioneering meals truck, Skillet, in its early times, he worked in the songs sector the rhythmic seem of him banging sq. blades that each slash and shift close to the foods on the flattop of his new meals cart, Kottu, bridges his two occupations. “Dubstep teppanyaki,” he jokes, alluding to the Japanese tabletop cooking he beloved as a child. Like the Sri Lankan avenue foodstuff he serves at his cart, teppanyaki requires cooking dishes a la minute on a flattop grill specifically in entrance of the client, which injects a small theater into providing food items.

But rather of shrimp flips, egg art, and onion volcanos, Suntha concurrently chops and cooks flaky flatbread with curry, vegetables, and spices into kottu roti. The dish — a thing like fried rice created with bits of bread fairly than grains of rice — combines the richness of long-cooked cuts of meat with the high-heat flavor of the flattop and the curry leaf, cardamom, and mustard seed flavors of Sri Lanka.

Seattle diners might acknowledge Suntha’s welcoming smile from when he served them drinks at Rupee Bar or handed them food from any quantity of meals vans he labored at about the past 12 yrs, which includes his personal. In 2020, nevertheless, he shed his stake in his possess business enterprise, an function swiftly followed by getting divorced, dropping his residence, and currently being trapped in quarantine, “drinking way also significantly.”

Syd Suntha reconnected with his mothers and fathers in the course of a hard interval in quarantine by cooking Sri Lankan food with them, which led to him opening Kottu.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Suntha desired a lifestyle improve. He sobered up, stopped cigarette smoking, and mended his romantic relationship with his family members — which influenced him to open a meals cart that draws on the delicacies of his heritage. Even while his dad and mom make “the greatest foods [he’s] at any time eaten,” he had in no way cooked Sri Lankan foods just before. “Since culinary school, I have generally cooked American fantastic eating or American road meals,” he states. So mastering to cook dinner spouse and children dishes turned an avenue to reconnect with his dad and mom.

Suntha was right 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, immediately after the dish. Even while he stopped drinking, he did not get rid of his party instincts. “I like the drunk food facet of it,” Suntha says. He also liked the food’s nostalgic resemblance to the teppanyaki at the cafe he went to for childhood birthdays.

Suntha grew up in St. Louis, in which his initially position was at Chick-Fil-A, prior to he moved into the songs industry. He acquired to prepare dinner on tour, which eventually led him to enroll in culinary college. When Suntha moved to the Seattle region, he took a career at a substantial-end cafe in Bellevue but before long understood he desired the fast rate of his food items truck side-gig. “It’s like a punk-rock band versus U2,” he says. “The meals was so goddamn great, and it was not pretentious, and you realized that you never have to observe any guidelines.”

1 of the elements of cooking kottu roti Suntha is most enthusiastic about is that he cooks it in a several minutes with the consumer proper in front of him. “I truly enjoy the thought of conversing to men and women,” he suggests. “We’re going to have a conversation regardless of whether you want to or not.”

Soon after paying out time in quarantine and heading via a dim period of time that made him wary of even his recognized friendships, he states he forgot what it was like to talk to people today face-to-face. But now, he embraces conversation. “It’s interesting, just conference men and women.”

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 rooster curry kottu roti, served with cilantro-lime-pickle yogurt sauce and crushed Flamin Warm Cheetos.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Kottu’s menu options a rotation of 3 or four variations of the dish every night, with possibilities like mango hen, lamb, beef, saag, and jackfruit kottu roti — each combined on the flattop and chopped with greens, the flaky flatbread, and spices, very similar to the late-night put up-drinking variations Suntha remembers from Sri Lanka. (“And a shit-ton of condiments,” he adds.) Suntha designs to stock Ballyhoo sizzling sauces (a organization he started) but also desires to collaborate with other cooks on innovative toppings for persons to costume their dishes with. He’ll also provide a consume or two and hopes to add a flat-top rated dessert at some issue — he has been taking part in with spins on gulab jamun that use pandan syrup or a boozy baba au rhum mash-up, as very well as a dessert kottu produced with sweeter bread.

He guarantees that one detail individuals can count on is that it will not be usual or basic. “The cart menu will frequently transform dependent on new strategies I find out, whichever is in year, and regardless of what appears tasty.”

Kottu, the cart, is the mixture of two stories, Suntha claims: “One is me obtaining out my shit and staying in the happiest place I have 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 1 wonderful tiny bowl,” suggests Suntha.

Kottu serves at activities and pop-up areas all-around the metropolis, with updates posted on the site.

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