The Road to Roti Road
Nestled on Barkly Street in the middle of the Footscray hubbub in Melbourne's cosmopolitan inner west, is Roti Road. For lovers of traditional Malaysian food, this is pretty darn good. You can watch the kitchen team weave their magic with dough, creating paper thin pastry which arrives to the table crisp and crunchy and delicious.
I've been to Malaysia and while service in the side streets of Kuala Lumpur can be very efficient, it also has it moments. So does Roti Road. It seems they're not always sure who is up for the meet and greet but, it's always provided with a smile. But we are not there to determine the skills of the maitre'd. Its all about authentic Malay food. Influenced by China, Indonesia, India and Thailand, Malay cuisine reflects the multi ethnicity of its population.
The menu is big so be prepared to take some time, or be like one of my friends who checks everything out online and knows what to order when they walk in the door. There is a wine list of sorts but feel free to bring a bottle with you. I would suggest a Gewurtztraminer Riesling blend might be just the ticket.
I cant go past a starter of traditional chicken satay. The sauce has a lovely little kick, tempered with some sweetness and is not too gluey. Spicy wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil are always good and of course, roti pratha - said crispy fried roti with dhal, sambal and curry sauce. Pan fried chicken dumplings are a standard on my table also.
There are noodles, rice and soups galore, but they all take a second place to my favourites. Beef Rendang is superbly spiced, with a dry texture from the coconut. It's not too spicy but there is a side of chilli for me. A tom yum barramundi is incredibly tart and spicy, exactly how it should be, kung pao chicken with peanuts and good whack of spice is a a traditional Sichuan dish but they a decent job of this. My go to, however, is a Nasi Lemak with Berempah chicken. A fragrantly infused coconut rice with sambal prawns, anchovies, peanuts & half of a hard boiled egg, and a intoxicating spiced chicken maryland. It never fails.
Its not a high end place but perfectly suitable for an affordable date or a catch up with your besties. Footscray continues to evolve into a cool, edgy suburb where you can find all kinds of folk. They have a good range of desserts and non alcoholic bevvies, a small and serviceable choice of wines (nothing here for the adventurous palate at all but there is a little bottleo across the road).
There are all kinds of menus catering to dietary restrictions and choices, you can hop into a banquet or a single dish. All in all, its worth the trip to this bustling suburb.
Roti Road. 189-193 Barkly Street, Footscray.