Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop
Leave some room in the tank, tho; Ali's roti are a course worthy of the title “main.” The shells are fresh and spongy, with a thin layer of peas providing solid dahl flavor. And the fillings have never disappointed. Chicken Curry is the most popular amongst regulars, and we certainly appreciated the terrific mix of meat parts (tender boneless chunks, but also moist legs and sumptuous shoulders) slow-stewed in a delicious, mildly seasoned sauce. This is supremely comforting food, if nothing neat to eat.
For a more manageable option consider the Shrimp Roti. We always order ours “easy on the potatoes” with Spinach. It's an addictive, impressively buoyant combination for a dish that (at lesser spots) sinks something heavy in the stomach. Although we've been stuck on this mix since summer, Ali personally recommended we branch out to the liver or oxtail as well. So more adventurous readers take note; two red-blooded options await.
If the stars are aligned, you might even wash everything down with a drink. Let me emphasize the word if. Ali's beverages sound like old school rappers – Double Trouble, P-Nut Punch, Busta, T.Dad OJ, Solo, Agony, and (token white boy?) Irish Moss – but I have yet to see a single one in-stock. Having only sampled the Mauby and Sorrel, I fear the drink menu is largely decorative. Either that or the cool things go fast. One patron gave the Peanut Punch high marks, but we have yet to sample it firsthand.
We can, however, vouch for the man himself. In a phrase, Ali exudes the Relaxing Spirit of Roti. He took some time to shoot the breeze, and gave us a history of the changing Fulton neighborhood; his 15+ years at the current location; his expansion from occupying a small space in back to taking over the entire storefront; his work as an engraver and graphic artist (note all the fly signs); his love of Halal meats, which he buys daily from 3 or 4 trusted local butchers; his emphasis on freshness, delicacy of seasoning, and consistency in quality.
As for how Ali keeps this flavor train rolling year after year? One simple mantra: “You have to be cool.” And that about says it, good reader. Cool Ali's is #1 in the hood, g. It's why we keep heading back for more, and why we suggest you do the same.
Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop
1267 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
Open til the food runs out, every day except Sunday. Late afternoon/early evening ensures greatest variety of offerings.
Roti are around $6 or $7; doubles $1; drinks $2