Finally an Indian restaurant which proves that cuisine from that side of the world is so much more than your usual culprits of Tikka Masalas, Rogan Josh’s and Jalfreizis.
Roti Chai is just a stone throw away from Selfridges and its forte is to serve authentic street Indian cuisine in the upstairs area, whilst downstairs serves more traditional, yet non cliché grub in a more ‘formal’ dining environment. It’s right up my street (both literally and metaphorically) so i’ve no clue why it’s taken me so long to pop in.
We were invited to dine upstairs (the ‘main’ bit) which was great for me as I had never got ‘down and dirty’ with some Indian street food, so i guess I can now tick that off my ‘to eat’ list.
The interior is quite canteen like but with a lot of character. Turmeric fixtures and lights as well as bright street art and gimmick ads of food brands covering the walls, resembling something you would see in the streets of Mumbai (so i’m told).
The menu is not extensive but varied and dominated by small sharing plates and nibbles. We started with the the ‘Chicken Lollipops’ (£4.80) which are moreish Keralan spiced chicken wings, and boy did they do the trick. Not only were they well presented and perfectly deconstructed to form their lollipop shape, they were more meat than bone, were accurately piquant and full of strong fragrant flavours.
My mind was blown by the Bhel Puri, (£3.90) – puffed rice with chopped onions and a tangy tamarind sauce. They reminded me of crispy cereals with a sweet flavoured coating and they were quite tangy. I had never tried anything like them before. Every mouthful was a pleasant experience, definitely a dish you would order again and again.
Next to arrive was the ‘Bun Kebab’ (£7.90) which was a Punjabi ‘Tikka Wala’ mini lamb burger. The lamb was powerfully seasoned with subtle spices , topped with pomegranate and a certain thickish yet delicate green sauce, the bun was square, sweet and moist and the condiments all worked well together.
The bigger plates/mains are on the ‘Road & Rail’ section and to elaborate, are ‘rustic dishes from the roadside ‘DHABA’ Cafes and bustling train stations of the sub continent’.
We chose the Railway lamb curry (£8.50) – fall apart tender pieces of lamb served in an a aromatic, slightly creamy medium spiced sauce. It had real depth and interest that kept me going back for more, however I did request it extra spicy but that request wasn’t met.
We also went for the Pulusu Chicken (£7.90) which is an ‘Andhra Pradesh style chicken curry’ served with fluffy steamed rice. It was less creamier than the lamb curry, almost soup like, although still quite thick. The portions, as well as the quantity of chicken chunks were generous. We were so full by then but we kept on going. I especially loved that it was sprinkled with my favourite herb, coriander, lots and lots of it.
Roti Chai is the perfect place to hide from the overcrowded and draining environments of Oxford Street, plus let’s face it, O street doesn’t really have that much on offer for places to eat where you actually want to sit down and enjoy as opposed to just for convenience.
It’s ideal for a quick lunch or dinner and even better if you are craving for some hearty, Indian comfy food packed full of FLAVA. Most plates are small and fit for sharing however some dishes if I must admit, you really wouldn’t want to.
3 Portman Mews South