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

Prior to Syd Suntha cooked at Seattle’s pioneering meals truck, Skillet, in its early days, he worked in the music market the rhythmic audio of him banging square blades that equally cut and shift all around the meals on the flattop of his new food items cart, Kottu, bridges his two occupations. “Dubstep teppanyaki,” he jokes, alluding to the Japanese tabletop cooking he cherished as a kid. Like the Sri Lankan street meals he serves at his cart, teppanyaki includes cooking dishes a la moment on a flattop grill instantly in front of the buyer, which injects a tiny theater into advertising foods.

But as a substitute 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 — anything like fried rice designed with bits of bread somewhat than grains of rice — combines the richness of long-cooked cuts of meat with the significant-heat flavor of the flattop and the curry leaf, cardamom, and mustard seed flavors of Sri Lanka.

Seattle diners may possibly recognize Suntha’s welcoming smile from when he served them drinks at Rupee Bar or handed them food from any variety of foods trucks he worked at about the past 12 a long time, including his own. In 2020, nevertheless, he lost his stake in his have business, an function speedily adopted by receiving divorced, getting rid of his residence, and becoming stuck in quarantine, “drinking way as well considerably.”

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

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

Suntha wanted a lifestyle alter. He sobered up, stopped smoking, and mended his relationship with his family — which motivated him to open a food stuff cart that draws on the delicacies of his heritage. Even nevertheless his dad and mom make “the finest foodstuff [he’s] ever eaten,” he experienced by no means cooked Sri Lankan foods before. “Since culinary university, I have mainly cooked American great eating or American avenue foods,” he suggests. So learning to prepare dinner loved ones dishes became an avenue to reconnect with his moms and dads.

Suntha was quickly drawn to kottu roti, served from late-night stands on the South Asian island, so he named his cart, which released in March, after the dish. Even while he stopped consuming, he did not eliminate his party instincts. “I appreciate the drunk food items component of it,” Suntha claims. He also cherished 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 task was at Chick-Fil-A, right before he moved into the songs market. He uncovered to prepare dinner on tour, which inevitably led him to enroll in culinary faculty. When Suntha moved to the Seattle area, he took a job at a higher-conclusion cafe in Bellevue but shortly recognized he desired the quickly rate of his foods truck aspect-gig. “It’s like a punk-rock band vs . U2,” he says. “The foods was so goddamn great, and it wasn’t pretentious, and you learned that you really don’t have to comply with any guidelines.”

One of the factors of cooking kottu roti Suntha is most enthusiastic about is that he cooks it in a few minutes with the client right in entrance of him. “I really adore the concept of talking to individuals,” he states. “We’re heading to have a conversation no matter whether you want to or not.”

Immediately after paying out time in quarantine and heading by way of a dim time period that built him wary of even his established friendships, he states he forgot what it was like to converse to individuals encounter-to-experience. But now, he embraces conversation. “It’s interesting, just conference folks.”

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 Sizzling Cheetos.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Kottu’s menu characteristics a rotation of a few or 4 versions of the dish each and every evening, with possibilities like mango chicken, lamb, beef, saag, and jackfruit kottu roti — each individual mixed on the flattop and chopped with vegetables, the flaky flatbread, and spices, similar to the late-night time publish-consuming versions Suntha remembers from Sri Lanka. (“And a shit-ton of condiments,” he adds.) Suntha strategies to inventory Ballyhoo very hot sauces (a corporation he launched) but also would like to collaborate with other chefs on resourceful toppings for folks to gown their dishes with. He’ll also serve a consume or two and hopes to incorporate a flat-top dessert at some position — 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 built with sweeter bread.

He guarantees that one issue men and women can depend on is that it will not be standard or basic. “The cart menu will frequently change based mostly on new strategies I study, what ever is in season, and what ever sounds delightful.”

Kottu, the cart, is the combination of two stories, Suntha claims: “One is me obtaining out my shit and getting in the happiest location I’ve ever been in my existence.” 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 thing in a person good very little bowl,” says Suntha.

Kottu serves at gatherings and pop-up locations around the town, with updates posted on the site.