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Roundhouse Roti

with 3 comments

I’m a big Malaysian food aficionado. Having been to Malaysia and Singapore almost a dozen times I feel I’ve honed my palate fairly well when it comes to judging quality and authenticity in amongst the decent-sized set of Malaysian food offerings in Melbourne. A quintessential part of any Malaysian food experience is the Malaysian-style roti, normally fried with lots of oil and ghee and butter (and sweat, which probably makes it taste better… really).
Roundhouse Roti has never been massively famous on the Malaysian food circuit (not popular among the horde of Malaysian and Singaporean international students in Melbourne which are normally my weathervane for Malaysian food openings and the like) but has a decent reputation and buzz among Fitzroy hipsters.

Roundhouse Roti
220 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Opening Hours: Tues to Sat 12pm – 8pm
(T)  (03) 9417 4285
The general premise behind Roundhouse Roti seems to be an adaptation of the amazingly delicious Roti dishes of Malaysia into something more healthy and more appealing to the Western (Fitzroy hipster) palate (ie. Oil!? *freak out*). The place is decked out nicely and is a pleasant place to sit (except for my pet peeve – stools, why don’t people know the value of back support!) The extractor fan is seriously rad, as the Age called it “the world’s most ornate extractor fan clad in what looks like charcoal-painted pressed-metal ceiling panelling.”
We had the Roti Telur (Roti with egg inside), one with the lentil Dahl ($9.00) and the other with Beef Rendang ($10.00). Immediately, the lack of oil was glaring, and to a seasoned roti eater it felt like a glaring omission until you remembered the the restaurant’s owner Lee Chong wanted it this way. The roti itself, while cooked on a grill and not a tandoor, almost felt like it was tandoori roti but without that tandoori charcoaly awesomeness. It tasted dry and quite bland. Similarly, the rendang and the dahl were watery affairs with minimal flavour punch (to Lee’s credit, the beef was tender and very tasty). Again, it’s important to remember that this is not a screwup, this is the idea behind the cuisine.

Roti Telur with Beef Rendang

I can’t say that the food experience was something I would go back for, unless I’m seriously detoxing and want something that tastes better than muesli & salad. The food reminds you why oil and ghee are so awesome, they make things taste delicious. However, for the rest of you health freaks that want some decent ethnic food then check out Roundhouse Roti, you’ll probably be more satisfied than we were.
Alex’s Ratings:
Taste: 5/10.
Authenticity: 7/10. Given that this was never supposed to be real roti and is the healthy version (arguably, what the hell is healthy roti?) the score is adjusted to reflect the execution of the healthiness while still maintaining taste.
Ambiance: 7/10. Cool place and all, but tiny, cramped and stools. Stools dammit! I hate stools.
Service: 9/10. Friendly, relaxed, attentive, no problems with minor adjustments to menu items and all this given they were closing in 20 minutes.
Overall: 6/10. Good idea, but at the end of the day, I like food that tastes real good, and the food just didnt taste that good.

Roundhouse Roti on Urbanspoon

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Written by alexlobov

February 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm