Roti is the flavour of the month for me (see my review of Old Town Kopitiam Mamak) so I was delighted to discover a Malaysian style roti joint close to home.
Roundhouse Roti has been open for a couple of months and is run by a young Fitzroy local Lee Chong (his mum runs the famous Rose Chong Costume shop next door). The entrance to the restaurant is easily missed – from the street it can look deceptively closed as the dark dining room contrasts sharply with the bright street light. The place is small and narrow, with half of the length dominated by the open kitchen. Peer around the glass and you can see curries bubbling on the stove in heavy red casserole dishes, a steel tabletop for rolling out dough and a flat hotplate for quick roti frying.
When you go check out the spectacular carved ventilation fan, like a huge ornate elephant’s trunk sucking up the wafts of fragrant food.
You can dine in, perched on one of the small tables at the back of room, or opt for takeaway neatly packaged in a cardboard box lined with a palm leaf and housing an impressive cardboard bowl which didn’t go soggy holding curry. Points for attention to detail.
As RM was on-call with work we opted to take away, but Lee pressed us to come back and dine in as he said that ‘there’s nothing like eating roti straight off the plate’. He also let us know that on Saturdays they offer satays as well as rotis for a more filling meal.
We tried the most popular Roti Channi ($9.50) with a moreish chicken and potato curry sauce plus the Roti Rendang ($9.50) with a serving of beef rendang. Both of them were well spiced (though we added extra chillies) with chunks of moist meat. As for the roti, it was crispier than I was expecting, rather than elastic. I’m not sure whether that makes it ‘bad’ roti or ‘good’ roti but never mind – it was delicious dunked in the curry sauce.
Finally, I want to note that when I realised I wasn’t carrying enough cash to pay for our food, Lee just said airily ‘Oh, just pay us another time’. For his friendliness and faith alone Roundhouse Roti gets a HOT.