Sunday April 20, 2008
By FARIDAH BEGUM
Crunchy, soft, salty and sweet in one bite, that’s our scrumptious treasure – the roti bakar.
ONE of the simple pleasures in life that is bound to take away frustrations is the sight of melting butter on warm toast.
Not a scene that is readily available these days and if one just wants to experience it, then head on to the kopitiams in your town and request for a cup of coffee, two half-boiled eggs and roti bakar!
Wait in anticipation for it to arrive but look out most conscientiously for the slabs of butter slowly melting into the bread that has been toasted traditionally over a charcoal fire.
Historically, roti bakar or toasted bread was found in establishments where the Hainanese reigned supreme in the kitchens.
This perhaps explains why we often get good roti bakar not only at the kopitiams but also at the government rest houses in the country.
The best of roti bakar is not putting the bread in a toaster and toasting it. It is the laborious method of getting a charcoal fire going, then toasting the bread on a wire mesh and gently flipping it from side to side to ensure even toasting and that none are reduced to cinders.
The dark ends that are burned are usually scrapped off the bread before slabs of deliciously salted butter are placed on the warm bread which is later slathered with kaya (egg and coconut jam), jam or even marmalade.
Lately, even buns have been split and dealt with the same way and also given the butter and jam treatment for those who want a heartier bite.
There are no hard and fast rules as to where the best roti bakar is served, as it is a constant reminder that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. What’s delicious to you may not be so for another.
Anyway, as the bastion of great street food and revealer of what’s cooking in every nook and cranny of the streets of Malaysia, The Star Guide to Malaysian Street Food gives a small list of where you can find your breakfast staple and enjoy it at leisure.
In Penang, the Toh Soon Cafe on Campbell Street is thoroughly popular as the kopitiam bread, sans the crust, is held over a charcoal fire on a wire rack, and slathered with butter and kaya before it is plonked on your table. This place is very busy in the morning and getting a seat can be difficult but most diners think nothing of sharing their tables with newcomers.
In the Klang Valley, in Ampang, the Kedai Makanan Sun Sun on Jalan Merdeka is a quaint old place that has been in operation since World War Two and here the bread is either toasted or steamed and served with thick homemade kaya.
The next place needs no introduction – the Kluang Train Station Canteen, where the bread and buns are toasted traditionally over charcoal fire, just as it was done by the first generation Lim who opened this place. Unforgettable best describes the roti bakar here, and now it is franchised in 1 Utama in Petaling Jaya, where one can have the bread made the same way as it has always been done.
Another roti bakar icon is the Kedai Kopi White House on Jalan Sultanah Zainab, Kota Baru, Kelantan, where the bread is fragrantly toasted over the charcoal fire and it is so popular that it is even listed on the Lonely Planet travel guide!
In the East Coast, in Kemaman, home to Kedai Kopi Hai Peng, the bread is thickly sliced and toasted over the traditional charcoal fire and then spread generously with butter and kaya.
Kuantan is not without its famous roti bakar. With as many kopitiams hovering over the town centre, one of its traditional restaurants that serves unforgettable roti bakar is Meng Fang on Jalan Beserah where the bread and buns are either toasted or steamed and spread with a creamy but not too rich kaya.
In Bentong, Tong Nam Bee on Jalan Tun Razak needs no introduction where the kaya is runny and served on a thick and cottony bread that is again served either toasted or steamed.
Across the ocean in Kota Kinabalu, the Fook Yuen Kedai Kopi in Damai Plaza, Luyang, is constantly crowded because of its good coffee and even better bread.
Try these and those recommended by our readers (see box on right) and have a great Sunday with your roti bakar!
SMS SENDERS’ PICK FOR BEST ROTI BAKAR
> D best roti bakar is at a small lane near Kampung Malabar in Pg. They have diff types of breads to choose from. Not to be missed. BellatriX
> The best roti bakar i’ve tried is at penang road, which hidden up in the juntion. The famous charcoal toast. Yammylicious*
> The best roti bakar is at Mel’s Corner, Section 17, Petaling Jaya. With its rich filling inside and crispy bread outside. Must try it.
> The best Roti Bakar is at Kluang Railway station, you’ll never eat alone.
> Best roti bakar is at Pak Hailam kopitiam in 55, lorong bangau 2, kepong baru, 52100 kuala lumpur. – Leong
> Best roti bakar must be at mid valley, toast box. Bread soft inside & crusty outside. Made fresh on the spot.
> Best roti bakar @ White House kota baru opp main mosque city centre. No other can come close. Abd. Majid
> Best Roti Kaya Bakar is at Tanjung Tokong Flat UDA. Coffeestall Ah Wang. People go there just for d roti – Mervyn Yeoh PG
> Nanking Coffee Shop at Taipan USJ serves one of d best roti bakar they r v generous w d butter n kaya
> Famous roti bakar & bun, done over charcoal is at Kluang railway station in Kluang, Johor. Also chk out d half boiled eggs & kopi – Sharon ML Boo.
> Best roti bakar is at choon hui coffee shop in kuching ... mesti cuba. gya
> Best roti bakar @ Hainan Curry Rice Bkt Tinggi Klang. Shop facing padang. Their kaya genuine hainan style, double boil 4 3hrs They sell kaya too Best
> Kopi-Oh at Cineleisure has one of the best roti bakar, real heavenly stuff! WHCM
> D best Roti Bakar is @ Pak Lang Kopitiam, PD. Delicious kaya & sumptous butter. Situated next 2 Kastam office – Vincent.
> Best roti Bakar is sun yun loong in iph old town. Nothing beats traditional kaya and butter toast bread.