what: Roti and Curry
where: Kao Thai Cuisine, 1001 Senate St., No. 300
hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.
Roti, a flatbread most commonly known from Indian cuisine, may be a bit of surprise at Kao Thai Cuisine, the first addition to the renovated fire department building in the Vista. It turns out that the Indian subcontinent bread made its way through many Southeast Asian countries, becoming a major part of street food in places like Thailand, Indonesia and, over time, the Caribbean, when indentured Indian laborers were brought to the area. Typically a street food, roti in Thailand can be either sweet with things like condensed milk poured over it or savory when paired with curries and stews or stuffed with meat.
There are many ways roti can be made, but in general the flatbread is made with wheat flour and grilled on a flat top until browned and crispy. Kao Thai’s version is the perfect balance of crisp and chew, with several layers in-between, reminiscent of phyllo dough. It is an awful lot of fun to sit and peel away at the layers.
The yellow curry that accompanies the roti is warm and inviting, with pleasant, up-front heat and gentle notes of peanut. Bread and Thai curries are rarely if ever seen together, but the rich, warm heat of the curry beautifully clings to the buttery layers of the roti.
Outside of the roti, Kao Thai offers a few other options that go off the beaten path, like the char siu steam bun, the sweet and sour tamarind wings, and the bacon-wrapped scallops, which come with a Thai-influenced guacamole. The lunch menu keeps to the favorites like pad Thai and curries, while the dinner service expands into more uncharted waters with dishes like lychee duck curry and grilled basil lamb.