Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roti Chenai, Wellington

Roti Chenai Cafe is a reasonably well-known Wellington eatery, being easily visible on Victoria Street and quite accessible for work crowds from both ends of town. A friend dined with me and both she and I had previously visited for lunch. 

It has a nice atmosphere – lots of quirky ornaments and vibrant colours – and the tables aren’t too jam packed together, which I like. It’s clearly popular as although we were very early we weren’t the first diners, and it was full by the time we left at 7pm. 

Roti Chenai’s food is fusion – South Indian and Malaysian – and the menu is broad. Each dish is labelled with the region it hails from, and as I was favouring a curry style dish over noodles, beef rendang (my standard order) was my choice, rendang being the only dish of that type from Malaysia on the menu.
My friend chose the sambar dosai -  she’s vegetarian and was pretty happy with the number of options on the menu, which is a good sign. 

My rendang was hearty and rich, and came with “curry sauce” as well as rice. The curry sauce was a little thinner and lighter in flavour and it was quite nice having both on the plate. I really enjoyed the rendang, and the roti was fresh and tasty too. 

My friend’s dosai was a curious dish – dosai is described on their website as a batter made of urid and rice flour, fermented overnight then cooked like a pancake. The pancake is huge (so big it doesn’t really fit on the plate!) and very thin and crispy. The sambar filling was a lentil-based curry, which was tasty (though perhaps not as flavoursome as the rendang). 

As well as the savoury food Roti Chenai do dessert roti. I knew Mr Cake wouldn’t say no to one of these, so when we’d finished our meal I ordered one chocolate and one banana roti to go. We watched as the roti cook made them and wrapped them carefully in tinfoil to keep warm. They came with cream and maple syrup and they went down a treat – we both preferred the banana roti as the chocolate was a bit sickly, and maple syrup and banana is a great combination (although perhaps not very Malaysian!).
All in all it was a great meal – very good value food with great variety and friendly service. 

This post was originally written for the Makan Blog Squad. Mrs Cake dined anonomously courtesy of Malaysia Kitchen. 


  1. I love dosai, although I tend towards Rasa's as they're so close. That said, my flatmate loves Roti Chenai, so maybe I should make the effort to go a little further, looks like a great night of food :)

  2. Roti chenai is my favourite place for Malaysian in Wellington! I've been known to visit more than once in a week but it's been a couple of months since I last ate there. I always have either dosai or chilli chicken masala - so hot but so so good! If you like hot food you should try the chilli chicken masala sometime.

  3. Laura, Rasa does seem to be well-loved - I've never been but hopefully might make it there sometime soon!

    Libby, it's great, isn't it? I;ll have to try the chilli chicken masala, I'm definitely a fan of hot - I bet Mr Cake would love that too!

  4. Roti Chenai is up there as one of my favourite Malaysian eatery! Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country and actually quite a lot of the dishes in Roti Chenai are available all over Malaysia (they're many Indians of Tamil descent in Malaysia and Singapore). A lot of Malaysian places in NZ serve Malay and Chinese dishes, but I like it that Roti Chenai chooses to specialise in the sort of Tamil dishes that I miss. Next time if you go again Rosa, try the Biryani or the Thali meals. Their Biryani is the most authentic in Wellington (in my view anyway) and the Thali meal allows you to try a selection of curries!

    Oh, and they make really good masala chai tea as well. :-))

  5. Shirleen, thanks for the recommendations! I liked the slightly different focus as well, and we'll definitely be going back there!


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