Any native of greater KL will point you in the direction of Valentine Roti when asked the question, ‘Where to get good roti canai in KL?’ The roadside stall is an institution in the area, having served crispy roti to hungry residents and the post-clubbing crowd for almost two decades.
You would think that becoming an icon in the local roti scene would prompt the owners to jazz up the place a bit or move into a proper outlet, but I am told by a local who’s been going to Valentine since childhood that no, Valentine Roti looks exactly the same today as it did all those years ago (give or take the addition of ‘Best roti canai’ to their signage). In other words, don’t expect anything less than a brightly lit gerai with chairs and tables; probably one step above your typical grimy stall, but I wouldn’t go there and study my surroundings if I were you.
My first visit was on a Monday night; it was only past 8pm so there were quite a lot of empty tables, but the place started filling up about half an hour later. I’ve only ever had Valentine Roti as takeout, so it was a totally new experience to be sitting down and having my roti there, served fresh. I ordered my favourite – roti kosong garing – while my companions had the roti sardin (garing) and roti telur. If you like your roti crispy and light, Valentine delivers just that; the roti kosong is crispy with a slight sweetness reminiscent of roti Planta without the overbearing greasiness. The roti is tasty enough to eat on its own, but you’ll want to dip it in the dal, sambal and mutton curry for the full experience. And if you’ve been looking around for a sambal with the perfect balance between sweet and spicy to eat with your roti, this is the place (always ask for extra).
If you’re really hungry, you’ll definitely need two pieces of roti kosong, as one didn’t fill me up at all. The roti sardin and roti telur would fare better with a big appetite, and you’ll be pleased to know that they’re not stingy on the filling here, especially with the sardine. Still hungry, we ordered a plate of maggi goreng and roti kaya for dessert. The former was bland throughout, but the roti kaya I will remember forever; crispy on the outside with caramelised kaya on the inside (a wonderful result of having your roti made garing), the roti kaya satisfied my craving for something sweet, all thoughts of the disappointing maggi goreng forgotten.
Other than roti, Valentine also serves nasi lemak and an Indian-style chicken soup which I’ll make a point to try on my next visit, but if you’re not one for risks, always go for the roti and you’ll be happy.