Order the kottu roti at Manjula Fernando’s Hunter Street eatery Kottoo, and the muffled clang of a spatula rapidly chopping roti in a wok will ring out from the kitchen.

The restaurant’s namesake dish (“Kottu” in the Tamil language is an onomatopoeic word for “chop”) was originally created to use up leftover roti and curry, where you take a roti, chop it up and cook it with eggs, vegetables and curry, chopping as it cooks. The result is a delicious, textural hash that combines chicken, beef, pork or jackfruit curries with roti and egg. Kottoo also does three cheese varieties, with a milk-based cheese sauce added to the mixture. Fernando describes it as the spaghetti carbonara of kottu roti.

Fernando made his name in Sydney’s Sri Lankan community serving traditional fare at Dish in the western Sydney suburb of Toongabbie. (He’d previously worked as a chef on board Kerry Packer’s private yacht.) In 2018 he opened a more refined version of Dish in Glebe. The CBD was the next step.

Customers will find many of the same dishes at Hunter Street as they’d see in Glebe. There are golden dosas accompanied by chicken or fish; rice with perfectly spicy curries; biriyani; and roti wraps filled with devilled beef, which is made using a tangy Sri Lankan mustard. There are also hoppers – bowl-shaped crepes made from fermented rice flour.

Everything is made in-house, including the notoriously tricky roti. It’s served alongside curries and sambols and arrives hot, ready to scoop up yellow lentils or chunks of spicy chicken.

Kottoo is a good spot for a quick lunch or takeaway, and the menu of Sri Lankan soft drinks plus iced coffee and faluda (a pretty drink of vanilla ice-cream and rose syrup finished with a sprinkling of chewy basil seeds) are the ideal accompaniment. It’s also open for dinner on Thursday and Friday evenings, with the option to BYO alcohol.

Located next door to the perennially busy Malay Chinese Takeaway, Kottoo tempts customers in with the aroma of curries wafting out the door. Kandyan dancers masks, each representing a different devil, bring colour to the charming space, and the quick “kottu, kottu, kottu” clang of the spatula from the kitchen tells you food is on the way.

Updated: March 14th, 2022

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