How long would you be willing to wait for a truly great meal? Half an hour? Forty-five minutes at a push? Maybe an hour if you were really fucking desperate? How about in the rain? How long would you queue up for if your Reebok Classics were filling up with water, your hair was plastering itself to your forehead like that scene with Kirsten Dunst in the first Spiderman, and you were really starting to regret not having booked somewhere a little less manic instead? That’s a question I’ve had to ask myself whenever I’ve visited Roti King and the answer to that question each and every time is: however long it takes. Because a meal at Roti King – to me, at least – is always worth the wait.
Located on Doric Way just a short walk from Euston Station, Roti King has acquired a passionate cult following ever since it first opened its doors and released a seductive waft of lemongrass and coconut milk into the streets. Lauded in national newspaper reviews and a myriad of breathless blog posts, the restaurant has been touted as one of the city’s best kept secrets for about as long as it's been doing business. So much so that it’s now one of its worst-kept.
From the queue that regularly snakes up and out of its basement premises to the diverse clientele that range from hungry students enraptured by their air pods to star crossed lovers hunched over a steaming bowl of kari, Roti King is a capsule of the diversity that makes the capital great. Oh, and the food’s banging, too. The dishes at Roti King – inspired by the Malaysian home cooking of chef Sugen Gopal’s upbringing – don’t pull their punches or pander to western palates. What you see is very much what you get. The sambal belacan dolloped on every plate of nasi lemak delivers the exact James Brown-levels of hot, salty funk you want and need; the generous portions of char kway teow are just the sort of alcohol-sopping deliciousness you’d want to find on the jalans of Malaysia.