Hunting for Pilawoos is like looking for the real Slim Shady. There is already a plethora of Hotel de Pilawoos, and Hotel de new Pilawoos claiming to be the real deal. Being the most popular, the Pilawoos in front of Durdans Hospital is probably the only one with a claim to the Kottu Kade Kingdom. While the food served is still good, prices can be somewhat exorbitant depending on what you order.
Ambience and Service
Road side joints like Pilawoos have all the flair of Flea Bottom (GOT fans unite!). There's a mess on your table from the previous diner that hasn't been cleaned up; there's an endless rush of bodies swarming towards the cashier, and even two cops enjoying a few wadais (I assume, since there weren't any doughnuts to be seen). There's also piles of crushed paper on a muddy-tiled floor — Pilawoos is street food central. To be fair, however, you don't come to Pilawoos for clean dining and good service. It's not for the faint of heart: I saw one steward gargle out a phlegmy cough with his hands only to pick up two piles of string hoppers right after. Well, at least you're getting more than you paid for...sort of. Don't say we didn't warn you — only try street joints if you have the stomach for it.
Service is mixed. The staff member who took our order looked like he was at war with the world. But on the other hand, other members of the staff were friendly with the rest of the diners. We just got unlucky.
We rapped out an order for one Cheese Kottu, one Cheese Roti and one Dolphin Kottu, with an iced milo and milkshake to top it off. Food is churned out fast with our orders coming out piping hot in just about 10 minutes.
Your cheese kottu might leave you wondering where all 'dem cheese at. Well, it needs a bit of excavating — it's usually buried underneath all the strips of roast chicken, in large, uneven blobs. The cheese is probably some happy cow substitute and isn't the best in town, but it does the trick. With the soft cheese and the crispy strips of roast chicken to keep the kottu company, the cheese kottu is the true heir to the Kottu kingdom. There's a large portion of it which could quite easily satisfy your ravenous pit.
The cheese roti, essentially a chicken wrap with cheese, disappointed me in one aspect. Where the cheese kottu comes laden with blobs of cheese, the cheese roti comes with a few, thin strings strewn between the layered roti. I remember this one being cheesier years ago. The warm, toasted roti adds a satisfactory crunch when you sink your teeth into it to get to the good stuff inside.
Apologies for taking this photo with a potato. There really isn't the light to grab decent shots.
All you animal activists can chill your bills. The dolphin kottu doesn't actually contain dolphin. It contains strips of lightly toasted koala. Just pulling your leg. There really isn't that much meat in the dolphin. Whatever meat was there tasted and felt like chicken to my palette. Essentially a wetter, oilier kottu with godamba roti replacing the tougher parata, the dolphin tastes average but I'd much rather settle for the cheese kottu instead.
The chocolate milkshake and iced milo tasted ordinary and unexciting. If, by my calculation, the drinks cost at least Rs.300 each, you'd be better off crossing the road to McDonald's and grabbing a drink of your choice for less. Though milky and fairly large, the milkshake tastes like any old ice cream and milk, shaken, not stirred. (Ba dum tiss). The iced Milo, on the other hand, is essentially a large glass of Milo with more Milo sprinkled on top. Nothing much going on here.
Our total bill came to Rs. 1670, which is on the steep side. But to be fair, we did order three mains. We'd recommend avoiding the drinks if you want to keep the bill low. By the way, you don't get a bill. Your "boss" just rattles off your total when you're ready to leave, and you guesstimate the price of each dish. The process is a bit of a mystery so keep that in mind.
If you're daring enough, Pilawoos dishes out some good food albeit with its own bit of love, sweat and tears tossed into the mix. However, avoid the drinks if you can. They aren't all that great for the price you're paying.
Cheese kottu or cheese roti and iced milo. That's all it is.
Oh, try the chocolate rotti.