Just before Syd Suntha cooked at Seattle’s groundbreaking foodstuff truck, Skillet, in its early days, he labored in the music field the rhythmic seem of him banging square blades that equally cut and shift all around the food items on the flattop of his new food cart, Kottu, bridges his two professions. “Dubstep teppanyaki,” he jokes, alluding to the Japanese tabletop cooking he loved as a child. Like the Sri Lankan road meals he serves at his cart, teppanyaki consists of cooking dishes a la minute on a flattop grill directly in front of the buyer, which injects a very little theater into selling food items.
But as an alternative of shrimp flips, egg art, and onion volcanos, Suntha simultaneously chops and cooks flaky flatbread with curry, veggies, and spices into kottu roti. The dish — a thing like fried rice built with bits of bread rather than grains of rice — combines the richness of extensive-cooked cuts of meat with the high-warmth taste of the flattop and the curry leaf, cardamom, and mustard seed flavors of Sri Lanka.
Seattle diners may well understand Suntha’s friendly smile from when he served them beverages at Rupee Bar or handed them food from any number of food stuff vehicles he labored at in excess of the past 12 yrs, like his own. In 2020, although, he lost his stake in his individual organization, an event promptly followed by obtaining divorced, dropping his household, and staying stuck in quarantine, “drinking way way too substantially.”
Suntha needed a lifetime modify. He sobered up, stopped cigarette smoking, and mended his romantic relationship with his family — which encouraged him to open a foodstuff cart that draws on the cuisine of his heritage. Even however his mothers and fathers make “the ideal food [he’s] ever eaten,” he experienced by no means cooked Sri Lankan meals just before. “Since culinary faculty, I have generally cooked American wonderful eating or American avenue food items,” he suggests. So mastering to cook dinner loved ones dishes became an avenue to reconnect with his parents.
Suntha was quickly drawn to kottu roti, served from late-night stands on the South Asian island, so he named his cart, which launched in March, following the dish. Even though he stopped drinking, he did not lose his party instincts. “I love the drunk food items aspect of it,” Suntha says. 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, where by his initial occupation was at Chick-Fil-A, prior to he moved into the audio market. He acquired to cook on tour, which finally led him to enroll in culinary school. When Suntha moved to the Seattle place, he took a work at a substantial-conclude cafe in Bellevue but soon realized he desired the quick tempo of his food items truck aspect-gig. “It’s like a punk-rock band versus U2,” he states. “The foodstuff was so goddamn great, and it wasn’t pretentious, and you learned that you really don’t have to comply with any guidelines.”
1 of the features of cooking kottu roti Suntha is most psyched about is that he cooks it in a couple of minutes with the consumer appropriate in entrance of him. “I genuinely enjoy the thought of conversing to men and women,” he says. “We’re going to have a discussion no matter whether you want to or not.”
Soon after paying out time in quarantine and heading through a dark interval that manufactured him wary of even his founded friendships, he says he forgot what it was like to converse to people deal with-to-encounter. But now, he embraces conversation. “It’s interesting, just assembly men and women.”
Kottu’s menu functions a rotation of three or 4 versions of the dish each night, with possibilities like mango chicken, lamb, beef, saag, and jackfruit kottu roti — each and every mixed on the flattop and chopped with vegetables, the flaky flatbread, and spices, identical to the late-night time put up-drinking versions Suntha remembers from Sri Lanka. (“And a shit-ton of condiments,” he adds.) Suntha programs to stock Ballyhoo scorching sauces (a enterprise he established) but also would like to collaborate with other cooks on creative toppings for men and women to costume their dishes with. He’ll also serve a drink or two and hopes to increase a flat-top dessert at some point — he has been enjoying with spins on gulab jamun that use pandan syrup or a boozy baba au rhum mash-up, as well as a dessert kottu created with sweeter bread.
He claims that one thing persons can rely on is that it will not be normal or basic. “The cart menu will constantly transform based on new procedures I understand, what ever is in season, and whichever appears scrumptious.”
Kottu, the cart, is the combination of two stories, Suntha claims: “One is me receiving out my shit and becoming in the happiest area I have 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 almost everything in one particular pleasant very little bowl,” suggests Suntha.
Kottu serves at functions and pop-up destinations about the metropolis, with updates posted on the web-site.