Just as lobster is so much tastier when you’ve laboriously extracted it from the shell yourself, so Roti King’s food has traditionally gained a little extra savour from the substantial challenge involved in actually eating there. At its pre-pandemic peak, the queue at the OG Euston branch dwarfed the line for Stealth at Thorpe Park, and buzzed with the same anticipatory thrill.
Now, Battersea’s new branch of Roti King means you can get your hands on authentic Malaysian food, pronto. But is it still as tasty without that appetite-whetting queue?
The answer is... kinda. The roti canai was as delicious as ever: transcendentally light and flaky layered bread, ready to be messily dunked in richly spiced dahl. The homemade lemon iced tea was refreshing, its acidic bitterness firing my tastebuds into action for what followed. But I couldn’t get as excited about the main dishes. The beef rendang was enjoyably rich, but my friend found herself losing interest as she worked her way through a dish that didn’t have the complex flavours she was hoping for. And I immediately regretted ordering the char kuey teow: this plate of noodles was lukewarm and underseasoned (after asking twice, the harried waiters brought some fresh chilli sauce, which rather stingily cost £2 extra, but did lift it a little). It took a meltingly delicious banana-stuffed roti for afters to lift my spirits again.
The ambience is a bit hit-and-miss, too. Mercifully, the restaurant sits in a brick railway arch next to the freshly redeveloped Battersea Power Station, rather than in the vibeless shopping centre inside. But it still feels chain-y compared to the original. Two long rows of tables are divided by a central bank of naff fake plastic plants that tremble when trains rumble overhead. Things are lifted by a touch of theatre: there’s an open kitchen, where the roti wizards stretch and fling dough into layers of cobweb delicacy.
Battersea Power Station’s redevelopers probably hoped that this second branch of Roti King would bring some much-needed authenticity to a site that’s largely dominated by generic food options. But instead, it feels like Roti King’s been homogenised, losing a lot of what made the original special. It’s a decent meal, but not a culinary rollercoaster ride you’d queue all day for.
The vibe A second branch of super-hyped Euston Malaysian joint Roti King.
The food Flaky roti canai, Malaysian rice and noodle dishes.
The drink Byob, or warm up with teh tarik (tea spiked with condensed milk).
Time Out tip If the weather’s nice, make for the outdoor seating out the front, and enjoy the views of Battersea Power Station (it looks much better from the outside).