Shop 1/2440 Gold Coast Highway
Mermaid Beach QLD 4218
+61 7 5575 6005
The Gold Coast is not commonly known as a city with diverse cuisine, so I thought it was odd when one of my readers, Kewyn, urged me to try Caribbean roti at Roti Hut in Mermaid Beach. As an Indonesian who grew among the eastside’s Malaysian and Indian restaurants, I’ve had my share of wonderful roti (South Asian flat bread) dishes. Hell, the roti also happens to be the Indonesian word for the generic term ‘bread.’ But Caribbean roti? I must admit that I had no idea there was such a thing.
Then again, it makes sense. Once upon a time ago, half a million Indians were sent to the Caribbean Islands to work on the sugar cane plantation. Thus, it’s no surprise that the Indian migrants would have influenced Caribbean cooking as well as played a bit of friendly cricket with the islanders every now and then.
Roti Hut is a Gold Coast icon but Marty didn’t know that. He drove past it many times in the last eight years, thinking it was some sort of dime-a-dozen Indian jib joint with its seemingly outdated 80s Stussy/Hang 10/Cross colours-influenced logo and decor. But after our first visit there, he realised how wrong he was.
Roti Hut is owned by a guy who I only know as ‘Calypso Col’, who was born in Trinidad. His parents owned Australia’s first Caribbean roti shop, Caribbean Kitchen in Dee Why, Sydney back in the 1970s – you can see a photo of it at Roti Hut, behind the counter. Although they sold the shop in 1985, Caribbean roti is still being kept alive through Roti Hut, Col’s pride and joy.
It wasn’t busy when we arrived just after the lunch peak but I know to stay away during the dinner rush for that’s when people come in for their takeaway roti hit. We ordered at the counter before sitting on one of the empty table. We were then able to take in the Caribbean paintings and surf paraphernalia, both of which simultaneously represent Col’s Caribbean upbringing and his Gold Coast home.
Caribbean roti is, to quote Calypso Col, ‘Indian bread made from wheat, flour, salt and water’ which is then filled with a meat curry filling before being cooked on a griddle. Think of it as a wrap, but heartier. The curry they use is Caribbean curry which I, in my opinion, is not as rich as Indian curry but by no means less tasty. At Roti Hut, most roti wraps are $10, but prawn varieties are $12.
I chose the lamb and potato roti ($10). The bread wasn’t thick but it was dense enough to hold the beautifully hearty curry that was bursting with chunks of lamb and diced potatoes. So, so good.
I also highly recommend you eat a roti wrap here with Calypso Col’s Caribbean chilli sauce. These little bottles of tangy chilli sauce are made out of home-grown yellow chillies and provide a lovely hit to the roti, cutting through all that curry. And if you’re not eating in, I’d definitely recommend you buy one for $9. Unfortunately, Southeast Queensland has been getting heaps of rain lately, which meant that a lot of Col’s chilli plants have been ruined thus limiting the supply of sauces available. Hopefully, the rain will go away so that Col can go back to making more sauces (and I can actually climb Mt Warning and go to the beach when I’m up there next month, woo!).
Meanwhile, Marty ordered the Creole pork and vegetable roti ($10). I wouldn’t say that this filling was ‘curry-like;’ while it was spicy, it was also very sweet so it’s not one that I’d be rushing to order. Still, it was a delicious way for Marty to get a fifth of his daily recommended vegetable intake, heh.
One roti wrap is definitely enough to fill you up (hell, I didn’t even finish mine so I took it home – hah!). Marty, however, is greedy at the best of times so it didn’t surprise me when he decided to try the prawn and potato roti ($12). As you can see, the lady at the counter was nice enough to cut the roti in half so we can each have one. It was delicious like all the others, but I felt that the lamb and potato was a better combo.
Roti Hut is a Gold Coast institution and embodiment of a successful mama and papa joint of those halcyon Gold Coast days. We loved their wholesome and delicious food that didn’t break our bank as well as the friendly service. Marty’s been there several times ever since our first visit and no doubt I’ll be going there when I’m up. Now can someone please set up a Caribbean curry roti wrap truck in Melbourne?!