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This piece was written by Olivia Capell. Click here to see her Instagram
In the last few years polished and preened eateries, admittedly with great food, have popped up all over the city. The Instagram era has brought with it a wave of chain intentioned start-ups who have changed the eating scene into a bright coloured photo frenzy. These food trend led and therefore, dare I say, predictable offerings have made the need for authentic food from further reach, our cultural melting pot of a capital is loved and known for, evermore present.
Roti King, a Malaysian eatery at the bottom of a block of flats in Euston has gained a lot of mainstream traction over the last couple of years. Netflix’s David Chang’s Ugly Delicious series having started the wave of reclaim for the dishes we love that have been pushed aside in our demand for avocado roses. The reclaim has meant places like Roti King have been able to open up a new, shinier version of themselves in the way of Gopal’s Corner in Victoria’s Market Halls while the same buzz and excitement for the good, honest and delicious food served in their OG site sandwiched between Euston and King’s Cross Station continues. I myself am a frequent visitor of the latter, and if you want to be a part of some ugly delicious eating, and still get your Insta story fix, read on…
You’re at Euston station; after a 4-minute walk you’ll arrive at a side street off Eversholt. It’ll be grey, bleak, and the yellow Roti King sign will appear like a beacon of Malaysian sun through a cloud of Ed’s Easy Diner. It leads to a basement at the bottom of a block of flats, and if you’re inexperienced enough to arrive after it reopens at 5, expect queues.
Hang around the blue railed stairs and stare longingly in through the below-street-level windows like you’re in a department store Christmas ad for a few minutes - you’ll be in before you know it.
The space is small, cramped. Naked bulb lighting hangs from the ceiling of the bijou basement and you will have to sit next to a stranger. There’s a man to your left preparing Roti Canai that you observe through a glass window and contemplate posting to your Instagram story - order that.
It’s a Malaysian flat bread; offerings of which all fall under £6.50. Eat it as a starter, main or side. It comes sweet or savoury; filled with cheese or minced lamb and egg, on the side of dhal or meat curry, or filled with sticky sweet molten banana to end.
Among a plethora of other vegetarian options, the dhal is warm with spice and rich in flavour. Eat exclusively with your hands, dipping chunks of light, fluffy, chewy, and still somehow dense, roti into your curry of choice, unless spooning chunks of tender meat into a fold of bread.
If you don’t want the Roti Canai (you’re wrong, eat it) they have loads of other dishes on their menu, ranging from noodles to their own authentic Malaysian specials.
Alcohol is an option if you bring your own and pay a tenner. If not, their drinks list doesn’t give in to Coke and 7UP alone. You can order a Soya Bean Mix Grass Jelly to accompany or complete your meal which comes hot or cold offering welcomed respite from any spice. A sweet soymilk based long drink with jelly pieces those familiar with Taiwanese bubble tea will enjoy. Milo Godzilla, a familiar chocolate based Nestle drink powder turned into somewhat of a sundae with help of a large scoop of ice cream on top. Or the Teh Tarik, a Malaysian tea served hot or cold with added decadence of condensed milk.
When you’re finished, have cash. Eat fast, but don’t rush. The people staring and dribbling at you through the window can be crippling.