Prata Wala at Nex Mall in Singapore
I would have never imagined that I'll say this one day. But here goes, the best roti prata (Indian pan fried bread) in Singapore is actually found in a shopping mall (horror of horrors). I have always thought that street fare should belong to the streets and there is no way a roti prata prepared in the comfort of a mall would match up to those from stalls in hawker centres and coffeeshops. I couldn't be more wrong.
Unless I have been looking at the wrong places, there is hardly a good roti prata to be had in London. Awana with its live prata flipping came close and the only other place I can think of is perhaps Satay House Malaysian Restaurant. Even so, both places seem to go all out to add fancy touches to their prata (i.e. cutting them into quarters and stuffing exotic fillings into them) to justify charging you over a fiver for them. All the rest seem to be merely popping a ready made prata, which by the way taste nothing like the real deal, into an oven. That explains my obsession with the pan fried bread.
It has become a ritual that we would hop on a cab to Jalan Kayu for a late night supper the moment we touch down at Singapore's Changi airport. Since my army days, that short stretch of road is probably our favourite haunt for roti prata and murtabak (essentially a larger roti prata with meat fillings).
While we were glad to find that Thasevi, the stall that we normally visit because it's the closest to Seletar Camp, was still as crowded. Teeming with off duty army personnel, cab drivers taking a breather and those simply looking for a bite, you would be hard pressed to find an empty seat at Thasevi during suppertime.
However, over the years, Thasevi's roti prata got soggier while the price edged up. Besides, despite the overwhelmin number of staff, you literally have to grab their arms to get their attention. To be honest, other than the nostalgia factor, I can't see myself returning there again the next time I'm back home.
The other one would be Casuarina Tree Curry Restaurant just off Upper Thompson Road. The quality has been relatively consistent over the years. But I have always thought that their roti prata is a bit too crisp (almost brittle) for my liking.
Enter Prata Wala. I must have been away from Singapore for too long for Prata Wala has set up shop at Jurong Point, Tiong Bahru Plaza and the one at Nex Shopping Centre must be its newest addition. We caught sight of it after a rather satisfying meal at Tontei Pork Restaurant and returned the very next day just to check it out.
Though you are required to order at the counter, the roti prata is prepared only when you have ordered it. It would take a couple of minutes longer but they are well worth the wait. Crispy yet chewy would best describe it. More importantly, the curry that came with it was thick and not overly spicy. Unlike the other more famous prata joints, service at Prata Wala was prompt an polite. At $2 a pop, what's there not to like? If only Nex would tune down their blaring background music a bit.
Other than the fact that its opening hours is affected by that of the mall's, Prata Wala is seriously giving the prata shops at Jalan Kayu and Casuarina Road a run for their money. No prizes for guessing where I'll head to the moment I touch down at Singapore's Changi Airport.
The Toby Carvery, South Croydon
9 hours ago