I had the pleasure of checking out the first annual Kothu Fest (http://kothufest.com/) this past Sunday Sept. 13th at Albert Campbell Square at the Scarborough Civic Centre. As a native Scarberian/ScarLankan, I am very familiar with the Sri Lankan dish known as “Kothu Roti”. Kottu/Koththu Roti/Kothu Roti is a dish made of chopped roti, egg, vegetables and/or meat and spices. Served traditionally, it’s pretty spicy, but I’m a fan of that, and you can always ask for less chilies/heat if that floats your boat. In my opinion, the heat really makes this dish work. I’m a big fan of a nice and spicy mutton kothu roti.
Sri Lankan cuisine has always been overshadowed by its more popular neighbour India and their international cuisine… but make no mistake about it, Sri Lankan cuisine is super tasty! Things like hoppers, string hoppers, lamprais, and kool are all fantastic things you should try if you haven’t.
The weather was pretty rainy, but that didn’t stop several hundred kothu lovers from lining up at the 6-7 different booths, including Saffron Spice Kitchen, Hopper Hut, Markham Bar & Grill, Kothu Boyz, Asha Catering and more.
What did I eat? I got seafood kothu roti from Kothu Boyz — $5. It was just about what I expect from a good kothu roti, a little kick (could have been a little spicier!), some delicious roti and eggs, and the shrimp was a nice touch. I normally go for mutton (which I believe is the gold standard for kottu) but I had to try out the seafood version Kothu Boyz was offering. I liked it! I’d say it’s a 8.5/10.
I also got some kool (spicy seafood soup) — $5 and free-range mutton kothu roti — $5 from Markham Bar & Grill. The kothu roti was lacking a bit in flavour and spice level from what I normally like. It was still decent but it just lacked the explosion of delicious spices that I like. 7/10
The kool however, was fantastic! It was thick, full of different chunks of seafood and best of all, had a great spicy kick! I can’t wait to try this soup again. 8.5/10
They also had a kothu roti eating contest in which the contestants had to eat two servings of kothu roti (provided by Saffron Spice Kitchen) as fast as possible.
I know for sure that I would have lost a contest like this. I am a slooooooow eater.
My only complaint would be that a few of the top notch well known kothu restaurants in the city were M.I.A. There was no Babu or Gasa. It’s ok, it’s only the first year and I hope next year’s event is able to bring in all of the best!
Overall, I really liked the event. It was fairly small, but considering this was their first event, and considering they had to weather the storm (literally), I can’t complain. The price of kothu roti was definitely pricier than what you’d pay at a restaurant but that’s to be expected at a festival. I still think the prices were reasonable. It was emceed by a guy I’m pretty sure I went to UTSC with more than a decade ago, Andre Vashist. He did a great job hyping up the crowd and keeping everyone entertained. There were also musical and dance performances by local acts which was cool to see. It was marketed by Brahman Media, and I really really hope to see this become a real annual thing. I’d definitely go back next year.