Okay, I’m going to skip the flowery introductions (I don’t even think I’m good at those in the first place, hah!) and get right into the “facts” here.
I was ridiculously excited to write about this place because the food is just divine. And when I start writing my articles, I do a little research here and there to get a feel of what others think, how they write their stories, etc. I was surprised to find quite a lot of blogs dissing on the Roti Canai in Transfer Road, Penang. I thought, how could they possibly not like it?
You know what they say, to each his own, but I thought the hate was a bit much! Many of them complained that it wasn’t the best roti in town and that they could find something better. So I tried another roti place in Jalan Argyll, just close by Roti Canai Transfer Road, and I remember all my random roadside rotis in Kuala Lumpur. I think they were all great. Some places undercook it but the consistency and texture were all pretty similar to me. Maybe I need to learn how to cook a proper roti and can judge better, which I really am considering.
But here’s where everyone is united: the curry is bomb. And for me, that really makes up for a not-so-perfect roti to pair it with. I personally judge an experience as an overall thing, not picking on too much on the details. I love the set up as well, just by the road and you get to see the morning rush — locals and tourists eating together harmoniously before they get their days started.
I was lucky enough that my hostel, Tido, was a stone’s throw away from Roti Canai Transfer Road and it was easy to choose what breakfast to eat. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of eating roti and curry for breakfast, paired with a nice hot teh tarik. It’s filling and light enough if you don’t order more than one roti 😉
So what is roti? It’s an Indian-influenced flat bread popular across Malaysia. It’s usually eaten for breakfast or snacks, paired with some dal or other curries. It comes out as a chewy and flaky piece of bread with layers. The texture makes the difference compared to other Indian flat breads like naan.
You can also find rotis in neighboring countries but I find that they are of much poorer quality (not fresh, first and foremost) and is usually used for desserts, rolling in chocolate sauce, bananas, and such.
After traveling around and tasting different rotis around Southeast Asia, Malaysia definitely wins with quality and taste. And as everyone knows, Penang holds most of the best dishes of Malaysia so eat your heart out while you’re there!
There’s also the famous Roti Bakar next door — a British-inspired dish in Malaysia, which is basically toast and poached eggs. The bread is toasted in charcoal so there is definitely a distinct taste to it to normal toasts.