Sunday, August 15, 2010

Transfer Rd Roti Canai - Penang, Malaysia

The Revered Roti Canai in this Town
I really wanted to try out Roti Canai in Penang and asked around for a good one. Every taxi driver, hotel worker and random person told me to go to Transfer Street. We went by in the evening once but it was closed and I began to worry that it wouldn't reopen until after Ramadan. I'd all but given up. Luckily, as we were flagging a cabbie this morning we happened to be standing half a block from it and it was open. As she pointed down the block, Puffin asked the cabbie "is this Transfer Street? Roti Canai?" He smiled widely. "Yes, yes, yes, the best. Take your time, I'll wait for you."

All write-ups suggest that Roti Canai and Singaporean Roti Prata are two names for the same thing. I find that hard to believe. Clearly, they're served differently. In Penang, they're torn up and come swimming in a soupy mix of lentil dal and curry. In Singapore the curry comes on the side. Beyond that I find the textures to be completely different. The Roti Canai has a rubbery consistency, more so than Prata, which is generally very light and flaky. They're a different experience altogether. I enjoyed my Roti Canai but if you made me pick, I'd take my Prata Boys in a heartbeat - it's just a matter of preference.

Cooking technique is the same. The dough is expertly stretched by a series of hand-whipping maneuvers and then folded in on itself and tossed on a flat grill.

I love the setup here. You sit behind long thin benches, with your back to the wall, looking out onto Transfer St. It's a people-watching bonanza.

I've mapped it in the link below. If you're walking down Transfer, here's how it looks.

Jalan Transfer, north of Lebuh Hutton
Penang, Malaysia

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  1. Interesting! Which is why everyone should travel the world, just to know things aren't always eaten the way you know it.

  2. @M + Y - exactly.... Totally caught me off guard.