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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ali's Roti Shop

Did you see the movie Memento? It starts at the end and ends at the beginning. Which is almost as dopey a hook as opening a food review with the line: crackheads are strong as hell.
Flavor Brain Trust: chef Nisha (right) and her compadre make with the tasty

It's true tho. Or so I was thinking after leaving Ali's Roti Shop on Flatbush. Turns out that while I was breaking bread (dahl?) with the employees, a crackhead had been chatting up my buddy for a solid half-hour. And she had the grip of Ilie Nastase, Original Flavor, and that LOTR Dwarf combined.
Service and smiles

None of which really has anything to do with Ali's Roti. Nor does it speak to their charm: solid Trinidadian fare served in a welcoming space at reasonable prices. Their success (13 years in Brooklyn, 3 at this location) starts with the wraps themselves: distinctive, unusually fluffy and chewy. Their freshness is evident. And while these roti work wonders as sauce sponges, they also hold shape – no mean feat with such hearty flavors packed inside.
Caribbean Burrito? A few roti from Ali...
Including (l-r) goat, chicken...
...and shrimp with dahl

Ali's has a soulful flavor which comes thru in the food. The sauces eschew strong spicing and curries for a stick-to-rib meatiness and rich flavors: mild-style shrimp with potato and lentil, or plump (to the point of beefy) curry goat. These were both tasty, but chicken was the tops: an aromatic allspice gravy tempered by just enough coconut milk to provide richness without excessive sweetness. My only real regret was the lack of heat, so make sure you ask for some of their fine homemade green chili sauce. Then place your order, and see if you can resist dipping a finger before your roti arrives.
Don't get it twisted: that's Ali's on Flatbush, dun!

Here's another piece of advice: when checking out Ali's Roti, make sure you have an address. This is because “Ali” is a popular Trinidadian name and at least three native sons make roti in this area. To wit, this Ali has another spot on Utica, and is cousins with another famous roti Ali (on Fulton). That said, this Ali's digs are unique.That's because this Ali's digs are pretty happening, a far cry from the check-cashing plexi-glass closet-sized spots that we have frequented of late. If ever a roti joint induced chilling, this was it: plenty of tables, airy bright space, sleek comfortable furniture, not-too-loud tunes. The hanging t-shirts (from a local painter) and concert tickets on sale even give it a nice artistic, community vibe. Hence the feeling that hits you upon entering: come in, kick back, and get ready to roti.

Ali's Roti Shop
589 Flatbush Avenue (nr. Midwood St), Brooklyn

Hours: daily from lunch time til around 10 (7 on Sundays)

Roti will set you back (up?) for around $7 or $8, depending on your choice of filling.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should try another Ali's roti, at 1919 Church Ave. They are also really good! I just had one with potato and chickpea, greens, and mango curry. The mango curry is an amazing taste that you have to try.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, disregard my last comment, the place with the mango curry is called Ram's roti shop, and it's awesome--no matter what it's name is.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ali's roti shop is the best in Brooklyn keep it up ali's

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Caleace said...

I have had my share of roti
's here and in the island on several vacations. I must say and congrads to this wonderful tasting place. Friendly, fast service but most overall food is OUTSTANDING! We need more like u all ova the city.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real Ali's is at 1267 Fulton St.... Om nom nom!

5:19 PM  

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