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Roti Chai – Indian Street Food just off Oxford Street!
First of all, we ate upstairs in the ‘street kitchen’ part of Roti Chai. It’s what Roti Chai is best known for and it was a great experience. I’ve been checking some of the reviews and there is a marked price difference between the informal service upstairs and the rather more lush restaurant downstairs which is only open in the evenings.
Arriving on a very damp weekday lunchtime, I was really grateful for the fennel and mint tea. I managed to drink my way through three pots of the stuff during our meal and would have bought some to take away had it been on sale. But instead, we ordered a selection of street food and a couple of main dishes and settled down to eat.
Most of the street food is priced between £3.00 and £5.00 and our selection of three dishes was more than adequate for us both as a starter. Papri chaat was beautifully presented, light and very moreish. I would happily have eaten more of this, but we had a few more dishes ordered.
My chicken lollipops were nice, but if I am totally honest the least convincing of the starters. It’s unfair of me to describe them as Indian style Kentucky fried chicken, but that’s the image I keep getting. I suspect part of the problem was that my companion doesn’t eat meat, which left me with rather a large portion for one person.
And, I much preferred the Hakka Chilli Paneer, which I got to taste and he polished off in style despite its eye watering heat! So nice to have a dish NOT dumbed down to mild for the Western palate.
For a main dish I chose the Chicken Manchurian which had definite Chinese notes of anise. It was very pleasant although by this stage I did feel a bit as if I was overdosing on chicken, that’s entirely my fault rather than the restaurant! My companion’s Macher Jhol was delightful with tender fish in a mustardy sauce. We had a spicy and well textured dahl as a side dish together with the pilau rice.
We rounded the meal off with deserts – a Keralan fruit salad with a delicious saffron and almond custard for me and a rather fabulous looking chocolate and cardoman tart for my fellow diner.
The Street Kitchen at Roti Chai is a good value meal option, with some unusual dishes and rather stronger flavours than often presented in Indian restaurants. The charming owner told us that he had deliberately limited the menu options to ensure that everything was balanced and well flavoured and I think that strategy has paid off. Prices of under £5.00 for most starters/street food dishes and of under £10 for most main courses should leave everyone happy.
Roti Chai is at
3 Portman Mews South, Marylebone,
London, UK W1H 6HS