Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Apr 28, 2012 06:09 PM

Penang, Malaysia - Transfer Road Roti Canai

"Roti canai" is the unique Malaysian word for what the rest of the world call "paratha"/"parotta" or, as we call it in Singapore - "prata"..

This unlikely spot along Penang's Transfer Road is unmissable - a narrow strip of kerbside communal tables and chairs lining a semi-open monsoon drain, about 100 feet away from the lush boutique Hotel Penaga. To eat here, I really had to suspend my concern about street eating in dodgy-looking places. But this place, so I understand, has been operating for decades, and is actually one of the most popular roti canai spots in all of Georgetown.

Breakfast yesterday - plain roti canai, which came looking rather worse for wear: no crisp-golden edges, but rather stodgy-looking discs which looked like undercooked home-made pancakes. But my first bite of the roti canai was a revelation - it was soft-to-the-bite, and very tasty. The accompanying dhal curry was watered-down and not aromatic, but did quite well to complement the roti canai. The more popular accompaniments for the roti canai were actually the strongly-scented mutton curry, or the fiery-red beef curry, but let's say those highly-spiced curries weren't exactly what I'd want to have first thing at 8am in the morning :-D

The "kurang manis" (less sweet) "kopi tarek" ("pulled" Malaysian cafe au lait) was still sickly sweet though - obviously "less sweet" is a relative term here.

Anyhow - curiousity satisfied - been there, done that. Obviously a very popular spot, we were hemmed in-between a row of Chinese-Malaysian chaps on one side (we were *all* sitting with our backs against a wall, facing out to the street), and a couple of Indian-Malaysian chaps at the other side. Everyone chatting away happily as they tucked into their mutton-curry or beef-curry-slathered roti canais.

Not exactly in a hurry to return here though. Sorry, Penangites, but immersion into local culture does have its limits for me :-D

Address details
Transfer Road Roti Canai
Transfer Road (before turning into Sri Bahari Road)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's completely safe to eat in the streets in Penang, klyeoh! In fact, it's also safe to drink water from the tap here. I'd never known anyone who's fallen ill or had stomach problems from eating hawker food in Penang!

    OK, that said, I must confess that I'd never eaten at Transfer Road's roti canai place. I can never get my missus to sit at one of those tables by the drain. Hah-hah!

    5 Replies
    1. re: penang_rojak

      Could you try the place by yourself?

      1. re: huiray

        They have a tendancy to under-cook the roti in order to get them out quickly. My first visit was sensational however on repeat visits have learnt that you need to ask for a well cooked and crispy roti.

        1. re: PTG

          You have a point there - the roti canai on klyeoh's OP looked seriously undercooked, with oil (ghee?) all over the top!

          But I heard that their beef or mutton curry was good. Maybe I'll do a takeaway from there.

        2. re: huiray

          Not my modus operandi to eat alone, and I don't think my usual "coffee shop talk" gang would come to this place. We usually hang out in dim sum restaurants or Gurney Drive spots like Mr Pot, where you get a view of the sea. Transfer Road only affords you a view of the busy street, plus the monsoon drain of course :D

          1. re: penang_rojak

            Ah, OK.

            Heh. Scenic views of a Monsoon Drain - to be blogged about soon. :-)

            Still, I am of the personal opinion that dining with companions is often overrated. :-) Solo dining can be delightful, with the need to satisfy only oneself and the pleasure of doing whatever one's heart desired being quite fulfilling.

      2. I missed this post! The frothy coffee does look delicious, but I don't think I can bring myself to sit and eat here though :)

        1. haha yah that actually does not look visually very good

          i found eating at street places is always fine if the food is cooked, but its always the water that will get you (although penang_rojak says tap is fine in penang). when i spent a month in bombay (which is way sketchier to eat at than malaysia) i didnt get sick and i ate at super sketchy street spots the whole time, but i was really paranoid about water (brushed me teeth with bottled water)