220 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9417 4285
Both Adam and I are huge fans of roti, the famous unleavened pan-fried flat bread that’s popular in Malaysia. Thus, it is hardly surprising that when we found out that Roundhouse Roti was just a back kick away from his work, we knew we had to make a visit. Having both finished work at the same time one Friday afternoon, we decided to visit this place that sells roti and ONLY ROTI.
The eatery’s shopfront may be nondescript but once you step inside, you can’t help but gasp at the ornate furnishings. From the sleek tabletops to the somewhat extravagrant ventilator hanging above the work open kitchen, this place was a far cry from the mamak stalls that can be found in Malaysian cities.
In keeping with my promise to eat more vegies and less meat (thanks, Michael Pollan), I decided to go for the roti dahl ($8.50). A generous-sized piece of plain roti was accompanied by a sambar lentil dahl, a mildly spicy tamarind-based stew with cooked lentils and chunks of vegetables including sweet corn. While the dahl was beautiful, I could not say the same about the roti which was not particularly nor tasty. In fact, it was probably one of the blandest roti’s I’ve ever tasted. While it was good that Roundhouse Roti aimed to cater to the Fitzroy-dweller’s penchant for healthy eating, there was no way I can consider a roti to be really good if it didn’t have ghee in it. Fail.
Adam’s ‘king of kings’ ($13.50) wasn’t exactly much better. Okay, so the chicken curry dipping sauce was relishing but the murtabak (which is basically a roti filled with spiced minced beef and egg) was not only soggy but almost tasteless. A far cry from the beautifully crispy-skinned versions a good street-seller in Jakarta could make with his eyes closed.
For a place that specialises in roti, we expected something special … or well above-average at the very least. Sadly, we both felt that Roundhouse Roti failed to deliver. While both of the condiments that came with our respective roti’s were lovely, the bread in both our meals just spoilt it for us. At the end of the day, I would have been happier munching on roti served at Chatterbox at Tivoli Arcade. I can only imagine that Chuck Norris will not approve if he were to come here for a meal.