Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Roti Road - Footscray

You know what is outrageous? Suggesting to a friend/family member/unfortunate-soul-who-happens-to-be-sitting-next-to-you-on-the-tram that you should hit up some roti canai for breakfast together, and receiving a blank stare in reply as if you are some crazy loon who licks toes and hangs out in wheelie bins in your spare time. For the record, the wheelie bin thing only happened once, purely to prove that I could...unfortunately, when it came to cleaning my clothes later on, my washing machine proved that it couldn't.

But I digress! Devotees of this blog may recall a 'Blogging on the Road' entry I made about Penang in Malaysia; the birthplace of many of our favourite dishes from the orient. There, as in many other corners of Malaysia and South-East Asia, a healthy dose of roti canai is an acceptable meal morning, noon and night. And why not! Golden, crispy, flaky, buttery perfection. The flat bread is cooked to order in a heavily oiled up skillet and served with a selection of sambal, dhal, and curry...it's enough to give the editors of one of those fad diet magazines a conniption! Of course, for myself, it is more likely to cause more salivation than even a rabid bloodhound can muster. After a recent word-up about this Malaysian establishment on Barkly Street that serves a mean roti canai, all that suppressed yearning for my fresh morning flat-bread and dose of dhal came out of hibernation and a Saturday morning breakfast sesh in Melbourne's inner West side was well and truly on the cards.

A few things to note about Roti Road. Firstly, the word I'd heard is that the chef has a tendency to break free of the kitchen and whip the roti dough into shape amongst the diners, keeping in time to the pop tunes blasting out of the sound system. Unfortunately - but not unexpectedly - this display of flair did not transpire first thing Saturday morning to a near empty restaurant. Secondly, the restaurant has more than enough options to suit the dietary needs of us vegetarian types. My compadre also noted that the prawn dumplings were of a good sort, and word is they do a pretty decent curry laksa too. However, that seemed a little too heavy for this occasion, so I stuck with the tried and true option. At the suggestion of the waitress, I opted for a double serve of the roti. In truth, one serve would have sufficed, as it can be quite a gluggy dish. For the vego option, the sambal and curry - invariably chicken - have to go out the window, meaning the only option is a triple serve of dhal to dunk your dough into. The main issue here was that the dhal was just a little too thin for my liking. The messiness of it isn't an issue for me, but it makes it a little more difficult to get a decent scoop of it onto your bread. I also found the roti a little thicker and chewier than I had hoped for. It didn't quite have the same 'melt-in-your-mouth' texture of its ancestors back in Penang. That being said, it certainly was not lacking in taste, and went some way toward sating my roti yearning. I look forward to returning to give the laksa and some of their veg. dumplings a go down the track.



  1. Great to see a vegetarian perspective on this place - I love roti!

    1. Thanks Cindy, always good to hear from someone else who is as enamoured of roti as myself. If only there was more roti canai in Melbourne!

      *Note: there probably are sufficient stocks of roti in the city. But really, too much is never enough