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The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way

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Roti King meal

Roti King meal

 

The Roti King is one of the hidden gems of Malaysian Food in London.

During my childhood, our neighbour Uncle Marden would take me to try different foods. Foods that I never had or even knew of. He introduced me to Mamak, Malay and American foods. He was such a great man for bringing me to the big wide world of different foods.

The Mamak restaurants would serve dishes like Roti Canai, Teh Tarik, Nasi Kanda. Mamak is a term for Muslims who come from South India. They established food stalls and restaurants all over the Malaysia and Singapore. This food has become a vital component of Malaysian Food today. Whenever I visited these Mamak stalls, I would be fascinated by the spinning of the white whirls of tossing dough to make the roti canai.

All this changed when I came to the UK for schooling. It was only English food and all thoughts of roti canai were just a pipe dream.

Doric Way leading to the Roti King

Doric Way leading to the Roti King

 

Roti King: London in the 21st Century

One day, I was wondering about the Food court of Oriental City. Oriental City was an out-of –town shopping centre for oriental foods and products in Colindale. Out in the corner of my eye through the crowd, there was the sight of white whirls of tossing dough. I made a bee line for the stall and I was in heaven with roti canai and a curry dip. I said to myself “Roti King in now in London. I am alright for roti canai”.

Then one day out of the blue, an announcement stating that Oriental City was to be re-developed. The much loved food court with the vast variety of Asian foods was to go. So where was my Roti King going to? Where was I going to have by roti canai fix?

What is Roti Canai?

The dish was brought to Malaya by immigrant labour from the Chennai (previously called Madras) region where there is a similar flat bread called parotta where it is eaten with a dal dip. The name canai may have come from the city of Chennai. Roti means bread in Hindi and other Indian Languages

Roti canai is a Malaysian Food. It is now embellished – eaten with a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes – eggs, banana, peanut butter, condensed milk or even Nutella in addition to the dal and curry dips.

The starting material is a dough with fat (ghee), flour and water. The mixture is then kneaded, flattened, oiled and folded repeatedly. It is allowed to rise and the process repeated. A dough ball is made and a sample taken. It is flattened then spun into mid air on a hot flat surface repeatedly. The pancake of the dough stretches and stretches, gets larger and larger, thinner and thinner until it is paper thin. Very much like pliable chiffon with no holes or rips. It is just magic to watch the Roti King handle the flying dough.

The cooked dough is then folded into a square and then crumpled.  It is a flat bread with a flaky structure. When it is fresh and warm, it is crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. It is divine and even better when it is dipped in a curry.

Finding the Roti King again

I was walking down Charing Cross Road one day and I saw a banner “Roti King” in a small café flying the Malaysian flag. I popped in and saw the white whirls of flying dough made by Roti King. I knew straight away that I was in the right place.

A few months later, I passed the same location but the Malaysian flags had disappeared. I enquired but nobody knew where the Roti King was. He could have gone back to Malaysia or re-located. But where was the Roti King?

I asked the question to the Malaysian community in London

The Roti King is now hiding in Doric Way.

Where is that? Near Euston Station.

With much relief, I organised myself with a suitable excuse to visit the British Library. Yes I was re-charged with Roti King’s roti canai with curry. It was bliss.

This food article describes the Roti King preparing the Malaysian Food Speciality roti canai for this travel blog.

Who is the Roti King?

The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way near Euston Station

The Roti King

Sugendran Gopalai alias the Roti King was brought up in Ipoh, the epicentre of serious Malaysian Food. He learnt to make the roti canai at an early age. He came to the UK and started out at the Food Court at Oriental City.

In the Far East, when a person is given the term “King”, the person is perceived to be at the “top” of their craft. An example – Sir Li Ka- Shing, Asia’s richest man, was known as the “Plastic King” in Hong Kong at the start of his illustrious career.

The whole ethos of Malaysian Food is about real food that is tasty. It is made from starting materials that you can see, feel and understand. It is hand crafted. It is mixed, kneaded and tossed repeatedly and then served to you – fresh. This is a simple food with a great taste at a reasonable price in an unpretentious environment. There is no fuss or bother. It is all about real food. Hand crafted food.

This roti canai is sheer delight when eaten fresh. It is best compared to freshly prepared baguette that is still warm.

 

This food article describes the Roti King preparing the Malaysian Food Speciality roti canai for this travel blog.

The flattened dough on the hot plate

 

The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way near Euston Station. Roti canai is a Malaysian food. Malaysian Food is about Real Food and Hand Crafted.

The first stage of the spinning of the dough – lifting of the flatten dough.

 

The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way near Euston Station.

Further spinning – the whirl of the white dough

 

This food article describes the Roti King preparing the Malaysian Food Speciality roti canai for this travel blog.

White dough in Mid spin – the whirl of the white dough.

 

The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way near Euston Station. Roti canai is a Malaysian food. Malaysian Food is about Real Food and Hand Crafted.

The landing of the white dough on the hot plate. This step is repeated until the dough is thin enough to be folded into a square.

 

Four different curries – chicken, mutton, fish and dal are the original curry dips for roti canai. These curries are freshly prepared daily from freshly ground spice paste that is mixed with more spices following the Roti King’s mother recipe.

This food article describes the Roti King preparing the Malaysian Food Speciality roti canai for this travel blog.

Freshly prepared Roti Canai with Mutton Curry and Teh Terak

 

This dish is complemented with the Malaysian favourite of teh terik (Pulled Tea). This is also from South India. Freshly brewed strong black tea is mixed with condensed milk (or evaporated milk). The hot tea is poured repeatedly from a height of about 2 feet to another large container. These repeated pourings cool the hot tea.

The meal of roti canai, curry dip and teh terik is the very essence of Malaysian Food. It is real food. It is hand crafted and prepared in front of you and served straight away.

The Roti King is hidden in Doric Way near Euston Station. Roti canai is a Malaysian food. Malaysian Food is about Real Food and Hand Crafted.

The Roti King Restaurant serving Authentic Malaysian and Singaporean Street Food

 

Another characteristic about Malaysian Food is that the best food is not necessarily served in the best environments. Likewise with the Roti King Restaurant. It is hidden in a small unpretentious corner near Euston Station. However, the prices are reasonable and the food is good in the true Malaysian style.

This food article describes the Roti King preparing the Malaysian Food Speciality roti canai for this travel blog.

If you want to try Malaysian food in an authentic setting with real food that is handcrafted for you, it can be found hidden in Doric Way.

There have been a number of food reviews of the restaurant. They have commented on the food served at the restaurant. In this post, I have focussed on the speciality of the Roti King – roti canai. There are two articles that do the Roti King justice in his craft.

Marina O’Loughlin – Roti King, London NW1

Jenny Linford – All Hail the Roti King!

 

Factfile:

Roti King: 40 Doric Way, London NW1 1LH; Tel: 07966 093 467; Facebook

 

About Dr Michael Oon:

Michael was brought up in Singapore and came to the UK for schooling. He was a forensic scientist at the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory (New Scotland Yard, London) for 20 years. He is now a consultant practicing traditional feng shui and works with property developers. He specialises in helping to sell property faster. He has travelled extensively around the world as part of his work and together with his wife Helen.

 

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