Just before Syd Suntha cooked at Seattle’s pioneering meals truck, Skillet, in its early days, he worked in the audio industry the rhythmic sound of him banging sq. blades that both cut and move around the food stuff on the flattop of his new food cart, Kottu, bridges his two professions. “Dubstep teppanyaki,” he jokes, alluding to the Japanese tabletop cooking he beloved as a kid. Like the Sri Lankan avenue foodstuff he serves at his cart, teppanyaki requires cooking dishes a la minute on a flattop grill specifically in front of the shopper, which injects a little theater into providing food items.
But as an alternative of shrimp flips, egg art, and onion volcanos, Suntha simultaneously chops and cooks flaky flatbread with curry, greens, and spices into kottu roti. The dish — one thing like fried rice manufactured with bits of bread instead than grains of rice — combines the richness of extensive-cooked cuts of meat with the superior-warmth taste of the flattop and the curry leaf, cardamom, and mustard seed flavors of Sri Lanka.
Seattle diners might acknowledge Suntha’s pleasant smile from when he served them beverages at Rupee Bar or handed them meals from any range of foodstuff vehicles he worked at more than the very last 12 yrs, which include his own. In 2020, although, he shed his stake in his personal small business, an event speedily adopted by receiving divorced, dropping his home, and getting caught in quarantine, “drinking way as well significantly.”
Suntha essential a daily life change. He sobered up, stopped using tobacco, and mended his partnership with his loved ones — which motivated him to open up a food items cart that attracts on the delicacies of his heritage. Even while his dad and mom make “the greatest meals [he’s] at any time eaten,” he experienced never cooked Sri Lankan food before. “Since culinary university, I have mainly cooked American good eating or American road food items,” he says. So understanding to cook dinner relatives dishes turned an avenue to reconnect with his moms and dads.
Suntha was quickly drawn to kottu roti, served from late-evening stands on the South Asian island, so he named his cart, which released in March, just after the dish. Even even though he stopped consuming, he didn’t shed his social gathering instincts. “I enjoy the drunk food items component of it,” Suntha says. He also liked the food’s nostalgic resemblance to the teppanyaki at the restaurant he went to for childhood birthdays.
Suntha grew up in St. Louis, exactly where his to start with work was at Chick-Fil-A, just before he moved into the audio field. He learned to cook dinner on tour, which inevitably led him to enroll in culinary university. When Suntha moved to the Seattle place, he took a task at a significant-conclusion cafe in Bellevue but before long understood he desired the quickly pace of his food stuff truck side-gig. “It’s like a punk-rock band as opposed to U2,” he claims. “The food stuff was so goddamn great, and it wasn’t pretentious, and you figured out that you really do not have to follow any guidelines.”
A person of the factors of cooking kottu roti Suntha is most enthusiastic about is that he cooks it in a several minutes with the customer suitable in entrance of him. “I actually really like the thought of talking to persons,” he claims. “We’re heading to have a dialogue no matter if you want to or not.”
After paying out time in quarantine and going through a dim time period that produced him cautious of even his recognized friendships, he claims he forgot what it was like to speak to folks encounter-to-facial area. But now, he embraces interaction. “It’s intriguing, just conference men and women.”
Kottu’s menu features a rotation of a few or 4 versions of the dish every single evening, with alternatives like mango hen, lamb, beef, saag, and jackfruit kottu roti — just about every blended on the flattop and chopped with vegetables, the flaky flatbread, and spices, equivalent to the late-night time post-ingesting versions Suntha remembers from Sri Lanka. (“And a shit-ton of condiments,” he adds.) Suntha options to stock Ballyhoo warm sauces (a business he established) but also would like to collaborate with other chefs on inventive toppings for men and women to gown their dishes with. He’ll also serve a drink or two and hopes to include a flat-top rated dessert at some point — he has been taking part in with spins on gulab jamun that use pandan syrup or a boozy baba au rhum mash-up, as properly as a dessert kottu designed with sweeter bread.
He promises that one particular matter individuals can rely on is that it won’t be common or basic. “The cart menu will continuously alter centered on new techniques I learn, whatsoever is in time, and whatever seems delightful.”
Kottu, the cart, is the blend of two tales, Suntha suggests: “One is me receiving out my shit and currently being in the happiest spot 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 every little thing in a single great little bowl,” claims Suntha.
Kottu serves at gatherings and pop-up places all-around the city, with updates posted on the website.