Heat. That’s one word to describe the Sri Lankan kottu at Kottu House. You know the kind. It starts at your tongue and lingers for the rest of the meal, building with every bite. Pick your spice level, just don’t make the mistake of overshooting. Kottu, a popular Sri Lankan street dish, is made of curry, eggs and vegetables stir-fried with chopped up godamba roti. I tried the classic chicken and seawater fish kottus over the span of two visits, and while the medium-level spice proved to be too much for me, the mild was just right.
I’m a wimp, because apparently the owner eats his kottu Sri Lankan spicy (the highest level, and one I’d never try without a fire extinguisher), adds Sriracha and Scotch bonnet pepper sauce, and still believes it could use more spice.
The kottus are so much more than just spicy, though. The flavors and textures of each one are quite potent and distinct. For the chicken kottu, chicken is cooked in a black curry with spices, and everything is finely chopped and mixed. As a result, it also packs in more heat because you’ll find potent spices in every bite. The fish kottu, on the other hand, is sauteed with peppers and spices, and the crispy pieces of fish are more loosely mixed with the other ingredients. The chopped up, mixed in roti was a new experience for me, since I usually use roti to dip or scoop. It worked well, soaking up all the aromatic, salty, spicy flavors of the other ingredients. Try adding a fried egg on top; it’s always fun to break the yolk for a coating of “sauce.”
We also ordered a few sambols for an extra flavor and kick. The pol sambol (Sri Lankan chili powder mixed with fresh grated coconut, lime and black pepper) is drier and easier to sprinkle, which blended well with the texture of the chicken kottu. However, the pineapple sambol was my favorite one. The pineapple cubes are mixed with salt, pepper and chili powder, so their natural sweetness is brought out and enhanced. This sambol was a particularly good accompaniment for the fish kottu.
As for the other menu items, the spicy calamari has a nice flavor and kick, but it has more breading than actual calamari. I prefer the crispy beef rolls, which are meaty and come with a flavorful spicy sauce.
For dessert we tried the watalappam (a traditional pudding made with palm sugar, cashews and coconut milk) and sweet hopper (rice crepe topped with coconut milk and palm sugar). I was excited to try the watalappam, but the sweet hopper was a pleasantly surprising highlight. It was a warm and comforting way to end the meal on a sweet note. Pun always intended.