Established in 2016, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites serves traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and street food while also offering Sri Lankan-inspired Southern fare. Tuk Tuk is primarily pop-up based, and typically is set up on specified dates behind Arcadium Bar in Lexington, Kentucky.
Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites is a product of the island's signature hospitality and a deep love of its flavors. Owner and chef Samantha Fore, previously a web designer for high-end restaurants, hosted traditional Sri Lankan brunches based on her mother's recipes in her home. Word of the meals spread around Lexington and the guest list soon outgrew her dining room.
The Arcadium owners encouraged her to set up a tent behind their bar to sell snacks for events, and the overwhelming positive response led to regular engagements both at the bar and beyond. In just a short few months, Fore was invited to participate in the demonstration tent at 2016's Crave Food + Music Festival and renowned Kentucky chef Edward Lee extended an invitation to cook a traditional Sri Lankan family-style meal in the Wine Studio at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, KY.
Since then, Fore has been invited to participate in demonstrations, university partnerships and guest dinner spots including the Southern Foodways Alliance Summer Symposium closing supper and the Brown in the South dinner series. She participated in the Cincinnati Food and Wine Festival in 2017 and teaches classes (on both cooking and the sociology of cuisine) at the University of Kentucky. She's been featured on BuzzFeed and in local media. Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites menus include Fore's spin on Southern classics like slow-cooked spare ribs and crispy fried chicken, as well as time-tested recipes of sweet and savory curries.
On a given night in Colombo it is not unusual to find carts and stands with deep fried snacks or the "takka takka takka" of blades chopping roti on a grill. We've created menu items authentic to their street food roots, from crispy lentil fritters (vadai) to kottu roti with a variety of toppings. We also offer Southern style small bites, including curry braised ribs and crispy fried chicken.
Slow simmered curries are a cornerstone of Sri Lankan cuisine. Tuk Tuk offers a variety of meat and vegan curries in rice bowls with traditional side dishes and accompaniments. Meatball curry, by far, is the best seller.
A snack stop in Sri Lanka is incomplete without short eats. Short eats are small bites, characterized as a sort of Sri Lankan version of tapas, often accompanied by tea or a cocktail.
Coconut custards, dense cakes and tropical fruit infused sweets cap off every meal in Sri Lanka. While the tent makes it difficult to offer traditional desserts, dinners and guest chef events showcase the depth of Sri Lankan desserts -- from milk toffees to watalappam to curd and treacle. Given our southern location, we attempt to use ingredients like sorghum to support local businesses.
Chefs to Watch 2018: Samantha Fore, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites, Lexington, Ky.
“These are the flavors I grew up with at home, and food from home is what resonates with people. Southern and Sri Lankan food are not the same animal, but they have a common thread of hospitality.” (read more)
TUK TUK SRI LANKAN BITES
When the crowd outgrew her kitchen table, she invested in a tent, equipment and some licenses, set up her tent behind Arcadium Bar, and became Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites. She made her money back in one day. (read more)
The one place 'Top Chef' host Padma ate while she was here
Fans of the popular cooking show "Top Chef" were thrilled to see an episode taped in Lexington at Rupp Arena on Tuesday. But one Lexington chef was about to get a more personal visit from "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi. (read more)
11 Meals That Give Kids Of Immigrants All The Feels
Elaborate meals made from scratch were commonplace in our home; I never realized they were a luxury until I left for college. Nearly every night my mother would whip up an array of curries, salads, sambols, rice dishes…. (read more)
What the 'Top Chef' Judges Think of Kentucky Cuisine
“There are a lot of chefs doing really fun and interesting things. These little sub-communities, whether that’s Vietnamese or Iraqi, there’s also Greek and there are a lot of Sri Lankans in Lexington, I want to go to this little food truck called Tuk Tuk.”. (read more)
I know I’m back in Boston because Waze looks like it belongs in a trauma unit. This traffic. Geesh.
Boston! I’ll be back tomorrow for a few days. Tell me what I cannot miss!
Please use this form for all inquiries pertaining to Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites. We typically do not cater events but are available for small private dinners and offsite events. Event schedules and pop ups are available on the events section of this site. Our brick and mortar presence is coming soon.