The Roti Shop is a classic down south destination. While there are numerous roti joints dotting the Galle Road by almost every tree and milespost, the Unawatuna Roti Shop is one of the more iconic of our unleavened bread establishments. Cheerfully painted in orange and blue, the shop front proclaims the following beachside maxim in bold green letters: ‘A roti a day keeps the doctor away’.
While we can’t affirm the veracity of the happy statement, a roti a day can certainly lift the spirits, if not the health. This joint, in particular, feel slightly healthier than most, serving only vegetarian roti – YAMU is partial to the mushroom/cheese/olive/garlic combo (Rs. 250). While your food may not appear in front of you instantly, and isn’t particularly cheap, it is prepared with effort, care and a good dose of southern love. And it tastes delicious – far less heavy and greasy than the usual egg roti doused in gravy. If you’re expecting big curried flavours, however, you’ll be disappointed. The Roti Stop goes with gentler ingredients: olives, tomatoes, pepper. This is more a westernised version of the roti. But it’s actually pretty good.
The steaming hot plate on which your roti is folded is manned by a cheerful young man who will, if you inquire after the ‘special lassi’, reply with a cheeky glint in his eye “”oh, it’s very special”” (note that down south, dishes or drinks with the prefix ‘special’ are often, indeed, rather special). It may take a while for your roti to be made, but this is due to detail rather than inefficiency. Wait it out and have a chat with the guy – he’s cool.
Overall, the Roti Shop is a great spot. Nestled between the rows of shops selling hippie beachside couture, you can demolish a chocolate banana roti in the dim light, listening to the ebbing hum of the nearby bass and enjoying that impending party atmosphere that spreads through the town. It’s a good place to eat, it’s a good place to be. Two chocolate covered thumbs up.