Earlier last week, I stumbled upon a new food court vendor on the second floor of Tinseltown. Canra Sri Lankan Cuisine caught my eyes with the bright color scheme and a scrolling LED signage. But the flashy decor wasn’t enough to lure me closer. Their exotic food, however, made me so curious I had to check it out.
When I was at the front of Canra, I saw that the restaurant catered both pre-cooked and made-to-order traditional Sri Lankan dishes. Despite the limited selections, they were reasonably priced. On top of that, they also offered a few sandwiches and fries. Since I hadn’t had lunch yet, I decided to take a closer look.
The pre-cooked items looked as if they were sitting in the hot trays for a while; I also didn’t care to order a sandwich. So my choices were narrowed down to the three made-to-orders: Kottu Rotti, Biriyani (a Sri Lankan Biryani made of rice or string hopper noodle substitute) and Dosa (a fermented crepe dish). To make my decision easier, I asked the vendor/cook which dish he likes most. He pointed to the Kottu Rotti ($5.99 with chicken; add $1 for lamb). Due to my limited budget, I went with the good ol’ chicken. “Make it the way Sri Lankan people like please,” I told the cook. “That’d be spicy,” he replied.
According to Wikipedia, Kottu Roti (spelled Kottu Rotti at Canra) is a popular Sri Lankan dish originated in the east coast city of Tincomalee. The dish is made of roughly chopped Godamba Roti, vegetables, meat (beef, chicken or lamb) or eggs, and various spices. It is normally served as a dinner meal. Traditionally Kottu Roti is cooked on a heated iron sheet with two metal blades (see above).
It was fun to watch the cook quickly chopped those ingredients together on the grill. It’s pretty much a poor man’s teppanyaki show; and better yet, you don’t feel obligate to tip the cook either.
Once the cooking show was over, my Kottu Rotti was served over a banana leaf. I took it to an empty table to start my taste test. The first bite was an eye-opening. It tasted somewhat like curry flavoured chicken chow fun. The roti was sliced into rectangular pieces similar to the flat rice noodles, but shorter. Some pieces were chopped even smaller on the grill. The roti slices were soft yet chewy. The texture was unique and fun to eat. The diced onions and green onions added savory aroma to the dish.
The chicken curry flavour were milder than I expected. However, on the third bite, I sudden felt a burst of heat exploded on my tongue. After a thorough investigation, I discovered that the fiery taste came from chopped fresh chilies added to the dish. I wished the cook had a more sophisticated flavor-delivering mechanism than simply planting chili bombs in random places. As I continued eating the dish, I felt like I were battling on a dangerous minefield. Luckily my taste buds are masochistic. So it was sort of tongue-tertaining.
Overall, I’m satisfied with my first Sri Lankan meal. Perhaps those who are familiar with the cuisine will be a better judge than I do. I’m sure there are way better Sri Lankan restaurants out there. Given that Canra is reasonably priced and it’s the only Sri Lankan restaurant I know around my neighborhood, I’m sure I will go back there again to try the other dishes on their menu.
Canra Kottu Rotti: ©©©1/4
Canra is located at 88 West Pender street, Tinseltown Food Court (2nd Floor), Vancouver, BC (T) 604.568.3545
Remaining Budget: $70.08
Budget Spent: -$5.99 ($HST not included)
Budget Available: $64.09
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