The Roti Man

10-12 Armstrong St
Middle Park, VIC 3206
03 9699 4244

Middle Park has got to be one of the most sought after suburbs to live in. It’s 10 mins drive to the city, traffic is generally good, it’s situated next to the sea and also next to Albert Park Lake. When I was house hunting, there was no way I could touch this area in terms of price unless I wanted a 45sqm shoebox apartment. What I liked most about this vicinity is the quiet, residential tree-lined streets and the family atmosphere. There’s none of that big generic conglomerate apartment projects going on here. Middle Park’s shopping precinct where The Roti Man sits had the feel of a little village nestled in the suburbs. Cute.
Having rented a bachelor pad for a couple of years in St Kilda West, I’d very occasionally venture to Albert Park and Middle Park for food. I first tried out The Roti Man last year with my folks. Dad and mum being quite the fussy Singaporeans when it comes to food, I was quite surprised that they really enjoyed the meal here. Further down the track, I ate here with Marc, who loved it too. This time round, Hao came to visit me and take a photos of Mr Woo, my foster puppy. He has only eaten Indian food once near Parliament, he wanted to discover more. I decided to take him to The Roti Man for a gentle induction into Indian food.
Isn’t Mr Woowoo cute? He sleeps on my lap while I go about blogging…

Hao eats very early. First time I had dinner with him, he booked it for 5pm… in summer! That meal went at a leisurely pace, but when we finished and left the joint, it was still bright outside. We visited The Roti Man at 6pm on a Wednesday as the first dinner patrons. It felt like we were having afternoon tea..
The front staff are all from Malaysia, which corresponds to the name of the restaurant. But I did enquire where the chefs came from. Our relaxed, friendly waiter told me they’re from India. Good… should be authentic! Even as the place got full later on in the evening, the ambience was quite warm and pleasant.

Onion Bhaji $9.50

We originally ordered the vegetable pakora as an entreé but this came out instead. It looked so amazing that we said nevermind, we’ll happily take it. The bhaji was served hot, it was deep-fried perfectly and wasn’t oily. Now I’m not one who’s that familiar with Indian cuisine, but I thought this tasted pretty good. The chick pea flour batter had an infusion of spices in it. I could taste tumeric in particular. It tasted good whether or not you dipped it into the mint sauce.
Hao’s approach to food is very novel. Being a photographer, each dish elicits a colour in him. For the onion bhaji, he comments that the colour is blue, and the taste reminds him of seafood… Isn’t that beautiful?

Kumb Muttur $13.50
Mushrooms and peas prepared in medium strength sauce.

Despite its almost simplistic description, this vegetarian dish tasted way better that I’d expected. The sauce was thick, non-creamy and it had a great infusion of chilli and spices. Hao thought the mushrooms were very fresh. He likes mushrooms. Very nice soaking up all that yummy sauce with our rotis.

Plain naan $4.00
Very nice, hot, fresh and fluffy.
Plain paratha $4.00
Parathas are the Punjabi precursors to Singapore’s roti prata. Whole-wheat flour is used for Indian parathas, while the Singaporean variant uses plain flour. I’m not sure whether they are supposed to look or taste like so, but I found this paratha crisp, hard, dense and not as nice as the plain naan. Can’t soak up as much curries with such a roti.
Fish Goan Curry $21.90
Deliciously fresh fish stir fried in a spice blend of dried chilies, black peppercorns, cumin seeds turmeric, ginger mustard seeds combined with onion and tamarind.

Not a bad curry. The rockling fish pieces were pristine and moist and the spices were on the gentler side. I did wish there was more chilli spiciness in the curry. The restaurant rated this dish 2 out of 3 in the scale of chilli-hotness, but to me it rates 1/10. To Hao, it’d probably be 1/100, ha ha! But he was happy with this dish because the sauce was good.

Pistachio Kulfi $6.50
Indian ice cream made from 100% milk slowly and lovingly reduced and transformed.
When Marc ate here with me last year, I watched his face scrunch up with pure pleasure when he had his first spoonful of the Kulfi. How intimate, I just witnessed a frenchman’s food-orgasm. I wanted to let Hao try it out, wondering how China would react to this dessert. I’ve had a very interesting conversation with Hao regarding desserts. It’s a foreign concept to him. Back home, his family might have sweet dishes in between courses or even at the start of a meal. But the mandatory sweet dessert at the end of a meal does not happen in his hometown. I was quite pleasantly amused.
The kulfi was dense, and very sweet. But the indian spice and aromas in this kulfi gave it a special and different taste from regular ice creams or gelatos. It felt more like a very dense half-frozen cake and wasn’t as cold as ice cream. While the kulfi pieces weren’t big, Hao could only fit in one of them. I had two. This dish is nice if you’re eating a tiny bit of it, but generally both of us found it tasted on the too-sweet side.
While I’m not an authority over Indian food, The Roti Man has given me a number of pleasant meals. Maybe there’s a special touch to each of their curries, the flavour of the spices come out from hiding. I think there might be some level of toning down to cater to local tastes, but the food still remains pleasurable and possibly authentic to me.
If anyone has recommendations for good Indian food in Melbourne, I’m more than eager to find ou
Update: On a friend’s recommendation, I had another Indian meal at Aangan in Footscray West.
View Map Of Reviews in a larger map
The Roti Man on Urbanspoon