Emporium isn’t where you expect to find prata and curry. When I think of roti prata, I think sitting in a shophouse or hawker centre, humid air kept moving by fans, wooden stools at tables, a bit of greasy slide on the floor from all the cooking, people waiting for food in ultra-casual wear (think singlets, shorts, and slippers).. Emporium, in contrast, has pitched itself as a luxury retail and dining precinct. It’s just a bit at odds.
The restaurant itself isn’t glitzy or glamorous. It is quite basically done up, with white walls, black plastic chairs, red vinyl tablecloths on the tables, and somewhat dim lighting. If you were just wandering through the complex without a pre-determined dining destination, you would be unlikely to pick it just based on appearances. The food though, is better than the setting seems.
Roti prata and roti canai refer to the same thing, and I suspect the restaurant owners have taken creative license to change the name to the city in India where the dish originally came from. They are missing an “n” though.. (It should be “Chennai” rather than “Chenai”.)
The best prata is flaky on the outside with a some golden scorched bits, lightly layered, has a bit of stretch as you pull it apart, and isn’t overly oily. Finding places that do it well isn’t easy here. There are some places that will pass off frozen ones from the supermarket as their own, and you can aways tell, because they are too dense, with the layers stuck to each other, and too dry, tearing without any springy elasticity. Some places will also charge an outrageous amount for a stingy serve of that dreadfulness. (Rogue Spice Canteen, I’m looking at you.)
On the menu here are different roti prata options, and mains with other styles of roti or rice and curries. You can also get biryani and rendang. We didn’t really look at the dessert roti options.
We ordered a serve of the plain roti chenai (prata) with lamb curry, beef murtubak with chicken curry, and a cheese dosai with dhal curry.
The prata was pretty good, as far as pratas here go. The serve was certainly more generous than you get at many other places. It had the right amount of stretch, and was just a little browned on the surface. The curry was a good gravy for it, a bit of spice and heat without being overpowering, and with enough body to stick to the prata rather than being too runny. There were only a few bits of meat in the bowl. The prata is the main event in this dish though, rather than it being curry with prata on the side.
The murtabak was also of a reasonable standard, with a good amount of tasty minced beef filling. The roti forming the outside of this was lighter and a bit more flaky than the prata, but still had stretch and held together well overall. Again, the curry with it was more a dipping gravy than a dish you would have on its own. It did taste different from the other curry though, so it’s not just one pot they ladle everything out of.
The dosai is something you will be less likely to find in other eateries. This is a very thin pancake, or effectively a crepe, smooth and crispy, and served either rolled up or in a cone shape. There is often a hint of sourness to it because it is made of a fermented rice batter. Once again, they served up a pretty good version of it, light and crisp on the outside. This is the meal option you go for if you’re not really that hungry, because although it looks huge, it actually winds up packing down to a fraction of the size when you eat it.
Service was fine.
Roti Chenai isn’t fancy dining, but it does do some of the best versions of prata, muturbak, and dosai around here.
Price point: Roti chenai (prata) $9.50 to $14.50. Murtabak $17.50 to $20.50. Dosai $13.50 to $17.50.
Value: Setting aside the fact that things cost less than half as much in another country.. Prata is alright value for here. The others are on the pricey side, considering the other food around you can get for that much. Lunch has a few items that cost a bit less than dinner.
Address: Shop 53,1000 Ann Street, Emporium, Fortitude Valley
Phone: 07 3161 1125
Website: Roti Chenai