Sebana Cove, Johor, Malaysia
The Roti Man of Sungai Rengit
Hot off the griddle egg and onion Roti Chani is the best food on earth! The best roti chanai maker in Sungai Rengit and maybe all of Malaysia is Azaha of Restoran Azaha # 50 Jalan Baker, 81620 Sungai Rengit, Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia. He opens early in the morning, so if you aren’t there by 10:30 am, you sadly might hear Azaha say, “Sorry, none left. You should come early.” It’s half apology, half admonishment for being late! One day I got the absolutely very last roti, and it was just plain; the eggs all gone. And twice Randal and I have biked to Sungai Rengit and arrived too late for any at all. So we have learned; be early if you want a roti.
Sebana Cove used to do two Sungai Rengit runs in the morning, 9:30 and 10 am. We’d take the 9:30 van just to be there early enough to make a beeline to Azaha’s. Now the van only goes at 10 am. this past Thursday I took the van to town, got off at the post office, mailed a letter and ran to Azaha’s. (Randal was on the boat doing boat things.) Luckily there were a few of the roti dough balls left so I could order 3 egg and onion roti chanai to go. As I was ordering, another cruiser, Cliff, came along and ordered 4 egg and onion to go. There were enough for Cliff, but I saw only a few more remaining for customers who came later. Azaha says the egg and onion are the most popular. Azaha prepares about 300 roti for the weekday mornings and between 450 and 500 for the weekend. He sells out every time. Along with the roti you are given a dish with a spicy soupy dip made with boiled lentils and lots of hot spices.
Roti means bread and canai means different things to different people. Azaha says roti means bread and canai means how he pulls and stretches the dough to prepare it for cooking. If you search on the web you’ll find lots of different interpretations, and spellings of roti chaini. For now we only care about the ones Azaha makes.
Here is Azaha starting out the roti. You can’t see the small ball of dough in his hands. He keeps them in a plastic container near the eggs. The dough is made ahead of time and stored in the plastic box. Order a roti and the magic begins.
It tarts out small and then Azaha stretches and spins and stretches and spins and drizzles the ghee and, and, and……. The arrow is pointing to the almost empty box with the waiting roti dough balls. You can see some stretched and folded roti on the grill. And you can also see the restaurant is open to the street like most shops.
Stretching it thin. The holes don’t matter. Onion pieces are placed on the stretched dough and then an egg is cracked on top. Next the sides are folded over and onto the grill it goes. Yum! The worst part is wait!!!!
Here we go. I think I had actually ordered a plain roti on this particular day. My tea is in front, Randal’s coffee in back and two bowls of sauce.
Randal with his roti chain and sweet, strong local coffee. It’s served with lots of sugar and milk. The same with the tea. We like to sit where we can watch Azaha work but often we sit where we can find any place to sit when the “restoran” is full.
Randal paying the bill. A great value meal and very popular in many countries for breakfast.
Way better than anything McDonalds or Burger King can do!!
Enjoying our “take out” roti. The roti are packed in Styrofoam boxes and the sauce is put in small plastic bags rubberbanded at the top. They are fine warmed up in the microwave. But nothing beats them fresh off the grill at Azaha’s where you can hardly wait to shove that first piece into your mouth. I used some mixed with rice and veggies for dinner and it was great. Sort of a curry flavor, but not exactly. I used some of the left over sauce mixed with rice and veggies for dinner and it was great. Sort of a curry flavor, but not exactly.
There is at least one other roti man in Sungai Rengit. We had some of his one day when we had biked to town and were too late for Azaha and too early for the Chinese place we like. We washed them down with 6 glasses of milky ice tea. Very VERY full after that meal.
We were hot, thirsty, disappointed and tired by the time we ordered. We gulped down our first ice tea and so ordered 2 more. They didn’t come so we asked again….ending up with 4 more. We drank 5 of them! They are very sweet and milky and FILLING! Randal thinks the tea tastes like chocolate milk. I had ordered 2 egg roti but couldn’t finish it all. Miserably full
Looks like we may be moving to Singapore on the 22nd. If the weather is good, if we’re ready, if….. But that’s the plan. Mixed feeling for me. I am really looking forward to the Singapore library system, but I’ll mix our Sebana friends and the great biking here, and our favorite roti man! Will keep you posted.