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May 5, 2007 07:57 PM

Real Roti Canai

I've been to several Malaysia restaurants since moving to New York four years ago, and was a little surprised to find that none made real roti canai. Some, like Nyonya, serve the reheated frozen kind (which ARE tasty, but which I can buy at Patel Bros. for $2.50 for 5, so...) or, like Sentosa, which serves very large and flat rounds piled prettily on the plate, if a little rubbery.

Real Roti Canai should be crispy and light with buttery bubbles of air, sweet and soft on the inside, endless crunchy brown crinkles on the outside, made by tossing out a ball of dough so it's stretched thin and round, and then folding it over itself as you fry it.

There's so much obscure cuisine here, and Roti Canai is something I ate almost every day when I lived in Malaysia, and is made from a very simple and cheap dough.

Does anyone know if Fatty Crab's (or some wonderful place I have somehow missed's) Roti is the real deal? What is going on here that the 10-15 Malaysian and Indonesian restaurants in NY can't get this right?

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  1. I'm sorry I don't know the answer to this. But is there a certain brand that's best for the frozen kind? And where in Manhattan would have it? Hong Kong Supermarket, probably?

    3 Replies
    1. re: traceybell

      I can't recall the name of the brand right now, but I believe it says on the packaging "#1 brand in Malaysia" somewhere. It is sometimes also called by the Indian name paratha.

      1. re: thinthukgirl

        OK, I found the brand. The packaging should look like the photo.

        If you can't find this specific brand, buy any brand that freezes the roti in dough form, not already cooked. That's what makes it different. Then I heat up a non-stick pan with no oil, turning down the heat before placing the roti on it. I flip frequently but this may not be necessary.

    2. This is a really good question ...

      From my tour last week of Malaysian restaurants in Manhattan, I found that all except for one -- Nyonya -- were serving a certain kind of roti that were so similar that I really believe that these were all the same factory-made variety. Nyonya's was different from the others, bigger, lighter, thinner, but I since I've never been to Malaysia, I can't compare with what is available there.

      The Kam Man grocery store on Canal St. in Chinatown has a Singaporean brand of frozen roti called "Chinatown." I picked some up there on Friday. With some effort, you might be able to achieve the same effect you describe above with these items, but ... I don't know. The ones I heated at home were very oily.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodmonk

        I did go to Nyonya several years ago, and remember it being the same as the others, but most likely I am remembering wrong.


      2. Have you ever eaten in Nyonya? Because its definitely not cookie cutter round.

        1. Try the following -
          New Malaysia Restaurant - interconnect next to Jin Fong on Elizabeth
          Overseas Asian- On Canal next to Orchard
          Malaysia and Indonesian- on Doyers St.
          Jaya on Baxter

          I do like fluffy ones too.

          1. I don't know about these days, but Nyonya in Chinatown used to have a dedicated roti maker, and they were definitely freshly made. Certainly the ones at Nyonya in Brooklyn, where I go often, are the real thing.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Peter Cherches

              I second this. and overseas were very good the last time I went, but it has been a while...

              1. re: ghbrooklyn

                Overseas is the place run by the former Ipoh Garden folks, right?