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Roti by any other name
Monday 27 November 2017
Kuala Lumpur
A collaboration between RapidKL, The Malay Mail and RebeccaSaw.com
A Mansion Tea Stall worker prepares roti for patrons. — Malay Mail pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — The humble roti canai has sustained many hungry Malaysians of all ages for as long as one can remember. Eaten for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper or just about any time when one is peckish, we can be assured of a cheap, satisfying meal with this hearty, fluffy and crispy fare.

And being the creative and adventurous folks that we are, this beloved flat bread has evolved from the basic plain flour, ghee, salt and water mix to some tasty (and at times bizarre) variants.

From adding eggs and meat to Milo and ice cream, we have also progressed to multi-coloured roti canai (roti rainbow), roti fried with vegetables and meat (roti canai goreng) and wrapping instant noodles in them (roti Maggi).

But one popular variation that never gets old is roti banjir. As its name implies, roti banjir is roti canai that is immersed in a gravy of curry plus dhal.

Mansion Tea Stall takes it a bit further. Its specialty is a hot mess of roti banjir plus two soft-boiled eggs and a dollop of sambal. Devour this by breaking the eggs and stirring it in with the shredded roti and medley of curries.

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    This combination is heavenly especially if you love eggs. It gets better with hot roti, so be sure to insist on the ones fresh off the grill, not the cold ones stacked at the side.

    Restoran Ratha Raub has a good reputation for excellent chicken curry and fish head curry. Slightly under the radar are their excellent nasi lemak and roti, of which I’m about to bring to your attention.

    I must say that the roti canai here is one of the most aromatic ones that I’ve had and with the prerequisite crispy surface, it is a winner on its own.

    But the accompanying fish curry is what raises the bar. Flavourful, slightly sour and extremely appetising, I savour every piece of roti dipped in that amazing curry, so much so that the dhal is forgotten.

    On Jalan Chan Sow Lin, in a dilapidated shack on the side of the road, Fadzil Sulaiman’s team is perpetually busy tossing roti canai, frying eggs and dishing out plates of savoury mutton curries to hungry customers from 6am.

    While some may opt for the fish, the mutton remains their bestseller and for good reason; it is chunky, cheap and tender. Each disc of fluffy roti is puffed out like a pillow with a sure but sharp clap of the palms as soon as it gets off the griddle. It is so well-cooked that there is very little chewy, undercooked dough under the surface. And the amazing part? Each roti is only RM1!

    I had thought this RM1 roti was an amazing discovery until my search led me to Warung Pak Hassan in Kampung Baru. The rather run-down space on the side of Jalan Raja Abdullah — one of KL’s busiest roads offers free, unlimited chicken feet curry with any food order.

    Yes, scoop as many chicken feet into as many bowls of curry as you wish, whether you are enjoying their fluffy roti or delicious nasi lemak; there is no restriction on the curry if you are a patron.

    While their roti is decent, the stand-out is the curry. Though thin, it possesses a slight gelatinous consistency and wonderful flavour from the essence of hundreds of chicken feet!

    Jaipur in TTDI is better known for banana leaf rice but its regulars swear by the restaurant’s roti canai for breakfast. A close contender is Restoran Ismail.

    While Jaipur edges out with its thick and hot dhal plus sardine curry (with specials like salted fish curry and crab curry on weekends), Ismail’s curries are hard to beat — rich with wonderful depth of flavour. You can opt for mutton, chicken, beef or a mix of the different curries. The roti is great too, crispy all round and soft inside.

Getting There
1. Restoran Ratha Raub
32 Jalan SS21/35 , Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

LRT/MRT: TTDI

Distance: 300 metres

Operating hours: 7am–10pm

From the station: Take MRT Feeder Bus T813 and alight at Jejantas LDP SS21 (Utara)
2. Restoran Ismail
Jalan Wan Kadir 1 , Kuala Lumpur.

LRT/MRT: TTDI

Distance: 200 metres 

Operating hours: 11am–4pm, daily

From the station: Turn into Lorong Sultan beside A&W. Walk on until you see the food court on your left. Zainul Nasi Kandar is inside the food court.
3. Mansion Tea Stall
2, Ground Floor, Selangor Mansion , Jalan Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur.

LRT/MRT: Masjid Jamek 

Distance: 500 metres 

Operating hours: 24 hours, daily 
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