There are a lot of Pilawoos. It’s not a chain and isn’t quite a franchise but through multiple descendants, associates and copy cats of the original Pilawoos (when and where that was is a matter of fierce debate) the name has spread throughout the city. While Colpetty Pilawoos is canonical and waiting parked, at the edge of the Galle Road by the Durdans Hospital, for a Cheese roti and iced milo – a Colombo ritual – my favorite of the woos has always been the Bambalapitiya Hotel De New Pilawoos, not the Vajira Road one but the one opposite Majestic city. Why this particular Pilla?
Well I believe that their cheese kottu is genuinely superior. Considerably more moist than your standard attempts its something of a Colombo street-side carbonara. Rich, liquid cheesy goodness with a generous hunk of chicken, and as it’s more subtly spiced than most kottus you get the impression that they aren’t trying as hard to hide the taste of ingredients that aren’t quite fresh. On request, however, they will bury a good amount of gleaming green chili in your gut-busting midnight feast, so you don’t need to worry about blandness. With a bit of fire, a generous amount of tender chicken (a bare minimum of those annoying bits of smashed bones) and a real mass of molten cheese on soft fresh cut roti, to me, this is kottu as it should be.
But at Rs 380 it’s far from cheap; I tend to ask for extra chicken (recommended) though this drives the price up still further. Keep in mind though that a portion will comfortably feed three if you’re not incredibly drunk/voracious. They may not be as popular as Pila-central down the road but the kottu, iced-milo (but not the cheese roti) here are superior. They also do murtabak – a Singapore/Malaysia hawker classic – roti folded and filled with meat/cheese and grilled into a sort of calzone pizza (Rs 300), filling and excellent though breadier and heavier than the south-east asian version.
When the need for 24 hour food strikes and it’s time for Pilawoos – head to this one. It’s the best and I think can still take the rising 24 hour Kottu star – Hotel De Plaza.