Welcome to Da Bao Diaries, a daily column dedicated to what Time Out Singapore's editors are eating and drinking while Singapore's 'circuit breaker' measures are in place till May 4. Da bao is a Singaporean colloquialism derived from Mandarin that refers to having a meal to go instead of dining in at an establishment.
In case you haven't heard, Rishi Naleendra, the chef behind the gorgeous Cloudstreet and Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro is back at it again. This time, he's digging deep into his roots to bring us Kotuwa, a Sri Lankan restaurant that was meant to open at the revamped Wanderlust Hotel. Unfortunately, the project has been put on pause, but that hasn't stopped Rishi and his team from offering us a taste of his heritage.
The kitchen of Cloudstreet is bubbling with curries and excitement. Kotuwa has taken over the space for the time being, offering pick-up and delivery to those eager to have a first taste. For many of us living in Singapore, Sri Lankan cuisine is a novelty found only in the homes of those who cook it or that one hawker stall at Tekka Market which offers a selection of dishes (Raja Bojun Sri Lankan Food, check it out if you can).
Kotuwa offers an introduction and an education, presenting us dishes like chicken kottu ($20), a popular street food of chopped flatbread, chicken and vegetables fried in spices – think of it as nasi goreng, but instead of rice, it's fried with shreds of roti prata. Then there are the curries. The dahl ($8) is possibly the best I've ever had, with perfectly cooked red lentils in a thick, creamy base with a complexity of heat and flavour that continue to build upon each other with each bite. The black pork curry ($22) is another Sri Lankan signature I've never tried before and gets its name from the copious amount of black pepper it's cooked with. "But where's the acidity coming from? Is it from limes or tamarind? I can't quite tell," I ask Rishi on Instagram. "Brindle berry," he replies, once again teaching me and my taste buds something new.
As many of us use this circuit breaker for self-improvement, why not treat yourself to a lesson on Sri Lankan cuisine with a meal from Kotuwa? It has plenty of other curries, sambols and achcharu for you to sample even before it officially opens at its new home.
How to order Head to kotuwa.com.sg and choose between pick up or delivery. There is a minimum order of $50, and delivery fees are priced from $5. If you're opting for pick up, do note that you need to head down to Cloudstreet, which is located at 84 Amoy Street. You can also choose to order a selection from Cloudstreet's wine list to pair with your meal.
Read on for more restaurants offering takeaway and delivery
Want your hawker fix? This Facebook group tells you which hawker stalls are available on delivery too
Wash it all down with bottled cocktails from these local bars