Anne DesBrisay is the restaurant critic for Ottawa Magazine. She has been writing about food and restaurants in Ottawa-Gatineau for 25 years and is the author of three bestselling books on dining out. She is head judge for Gold Medal Plates and a member of the judging panel at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
There are a few stools for perching at a counter, and one small round table, but most people use Kothu Rotti — probably with good reason — for take away or delivery. I’ve passed this one-year-old Dalhousie Street hole-in-the-wall many times, but this was the first time I noticed Kothu Rotti’s subtitle: ‘by Ceylonta Restaurant.’
We all know Ceylonta. It’s the long-serving Sri Lankan restaurant on Somerset West (with a second location in a little yellow house on Carling Avenue) that serves affordable, flavourful south Indian food and proffers a popular lunch buffet.
The menu is a good length, but as it makes little sense not to order kothu rotti at Kothu Rotti, this is why we are here. The quintessential street food in Sri Lanka, the dish looks like a jumbled heap of chopped up leftovers. Not much of a looker to be sure, but done well, it’s a stunner in the mouth. And at this little place, you can watch it being made on the open grill.
The dish starts with soft, doughy bread (roti, usually) and tosses in egg, vegetables, and a curry (chicken, beef, or vegetable), further seasoned with mustard seed, green chilies (you can have a say in their number), scallions, cabbage, and curry leaves, the whole mixed up and furiously chopped, turned and re-chopped on the grill with what look like dough blades. At Kothu Rotti, all the component parts form one big generous whole of punched-up yummy.
While you wait, order up the mutton rolls. They are marvellous.
Mutton roll, $2.49; Kothu Roti, $7.99 to $8.99
Monday to Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m. to midnight; Saturday 4 p.m. to midnight.
408 Dalhousie St., 613-680-7812. kothurotti.ca