Saturday, 28 March 2015

Food - Roti King, Euston

Roti King. Is the King. Hands Down. Bow down. End of story. Having been in Australia recently where the Asian food (and by Asian I mean South-East, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese etc etc), is frankly, as good as one can find, I feel as though returning home to London feels like what my parents would have felt about Chinese food in Australia in the early 1980s - lacklustre, grubby, and wholly catered to Western taste. Hence my trepidation at visiting Roti King. Would it, even by a fraction, deliver on the fresh, fluffiness needed on the roti canai and will it come with a smooth and spicy Malaysian curry-dhal, that those I've tried in Kuala Lumpur and Australia?

The place was rammed on a Thursday evening. Table for one. Wedged between overseas students on one hand who had ordered several dishes each, and a table of young twenty-somethings on the other, table piled high with beer and cider from the Sainsbury Local, furrowing their brows at the lack of vegetarian options on the menu. I took my cue from the overseas students and ordered:

Roti canai: two perfect portions of roti, tissue thin, crispy, and perfect for dipping into a simple lentil dhal. 

I teared away at the roti like a mad woman, inspecting the insides for evidence that the roti chef had indeed tossed and spun the dough around to create the multiple, puff-pastry like layers inside. Yes, he did! The dhal was spicy, not but too spicy, and the little bowl provided the perfect serving for me to joyfully dunk pieces of the roti.

Nasi lemak with crispy chicken:

There was nothing on this dish I didn't like. The chicken was seasoned in some sort of cumin/lemongrass spicy goodness, and deep-fried to juicy perfection. A generous slop of chilli sambal sauce on the side, perfect fluffy white rice, rounded off perfectly with the essential crispy anchovy-fishy things and crispy peanuts.  It's no wonder that Nasi Lemak is a national dish in Malaysia. 

Just writing this up now makes me fear that this place is too good and will inevitably be snapped up by, I don't know, Marsala Zone.

The next time I go to Roti King, I'm going to bring some suitably hardy friends who are up for an amazing meal and who won't be put off by the peeling furniture, the fact that the restaurant is in a basement and has no natural lighting, and that the bathroom is outside the premises, under the stairs.  Who cares? With a full belly and a sated grin on my face, I paused on my way out. I could hear noises from the kitchen. The sizzling and clanging of the woks, a signal of true Asian cooking, left me religiously reverential of The Roti King. Indeed.

Roti King is at 40 Doric Way, Euston. It's open for lunch and dinner. 


  1. Agree that Roti King is great. But no natural lighting? Doesn't it have several windows? I have remember watching my friends arrive through one of the windows as I sat inside...

    1. You're completely right! It does have windows! I think I left with the impression it hadn't as a) I arrived in the evening and b) it felt somewhat subterranean as the restaurant is located in the basement. But nonetheless, windows or no windows, I am so grateful that this small business is thriving and the food is amazing!