Where: Roti King is one of central London’s clutch of hidden basement joints serving authentic Asian food to an in-the-know clientele. Having said that, this particular Malaysian cafe is far from a well-kept secret. A queue snakes out of the door at lunchtimes and you’ll almost certainly end up sharing a table.
What: the flaky-yet-squelchy hand-spun roti canai bread, served with a light curry is what the place is renowned for (£4-£5), but we suggest an authentic plate of Char Kway Teow (£6.50), the flat rice noodle stir fry beloved of hawker centres and bustling food courts across Malaysia and Singapore. This version has plenty of chilli fire and a tangy seafood hit of belachan (shrimp paste) that coats the generous muddle of prawns, chicken, noodles and egg from which steam bellows on arrival.
Why: Packed with budget-conscious students, homesick Malays, and those seeking out the genuine flavours of Southeast Asia, this diminutive café provides the real deal. It’s recently had a spruce-up, with de rigueur Edison bulbs, and white tiling making an appearance, but don’t worry, it’s still far from a sanitised version, and the flavours still speak for themselves.
Don’t forget: to have a cup of Teh Tarik for the classic Malaysian streetfood experience. It’s a black tea served heavy on the condensed milk, and is theatrically ‘pulled’ back-and-forth between jugs in order to give it the required froth.
Notes: The drinks menu is authentically booze-free, but you can BYO if you really must, corkage is £10. Open midday-3pm and 5-10.30pm (ex Sundays) but it’s best to swerve peak times if you aren’t up for standing in line outside. Confusingly, the sign out front still reads ‘Euston Chinese’, years after transferring into the dexterous hands of celebrated roti-spinning master Kalpana Sugendran Sugendran.