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Restaurants & Bars 3

Ram's Roti Palace -- Trinidadian takeout in W. Broward

s.m. koppelman | Aug 2, 200301:13 AM

All righty. Ram's Roti Palace is another great stop in Lauderdale Lakes on SR7/US 441, Broward County's chow corridor, in Shops at Oriole (4200 N. block of 441., across the street from the center where Silver Pond and the Chinese bakery and so on are, about halfway between Commercial and Oakland Park Blvds.)

I've seen it a few times but it's either been closed (Sunday) or I went somewhere else like one of the Chinese or Vietnamese places within a block or two, or I stopped at one of the Salvadoran or Colombian or Jamaican places on the way up or...

Right, well. Finally. And it's damn good, too. Not much to look at inside. Kind of worn out but not dirty, a basic formica takeout counter lined with packets of West Indian/Asian dried fruit snacks, a bin of currant buns, and a few small tables where you can eat off styrofoam plates and waxed paper wrappers. Behind the counter, a small selection of Trini CDs and videos are for sale.

Most of the menu is steamed and stewed and curried items, which you can get on a combo plate with rice and iceberg and tomato salad, like you might at any number of Jamaican places... or you can get them wrapped in Indian breads, either a chickpea-and-spice laced roti or a buttery paratha, and trust me, these are what you're here for. If I recall, Trini and Guyanese rotis are served a bit differently from Jamaican ones, in that they're dry and neatly-wrapped enough to pick it up wrapped in paper and eat it like a burrito. I still had mine with the [plastic] fork and knife because I liked the idea of a clean shirt. If you're an Indian food hound and this sounds like a dosa, well, yes. It's a dosa filtered through the Caribbean. Yum.

Anyhow, the food: my goat roti ($5.50) was big, weighed over a pound easily, made up of a very good, balanced and not too bony goat-and-potato curry in a pleasingly chewy and flavorful layered shell. The owner will ask if you want "pepper" on it, and that means a homemade gray-brown scotch-bonnet pepper puree that doesn't overpower. Most customers who came through while I was there, like me, asked for extra on the side. Other popular fillings while I was there included the chicken curry, the potato curry, and the steamed veggies. They also have beef, conch, shrimp, duck and some kind of fish (cod?) on the menu. More than half the customers were enthusiastic regulars from the local West Indian community (and more than half of those, it seems, are transplants from Brooklyn's West Indian community), and the rest were enthusiastic first-timers who'd heard good word-of-mouth on the place.

The irish moss drink, in plastic pint bottles, is locally made and all right, but nothing to write home about. It's not especially thick, so it comes across more like horchata. Maybe it is: there's a small Mexican hub about two miles up the road. It's all right, but feel free to get a soda or something instead.


Notes for followup: the Jamaican bakery in the same strip center looks promising, too. They make their own patties, coco bread and everything else on site, and the patties looked nice and plump. And of course across the street there's the still untried Hong Kong/Vietnamese barbecue takeout that opened a few months ago, with fine looking roast meats and birds and quite a few organ meats on the menu. All the area needs is a teahouse and maybe a tong shui place and it'll have the Hong Kong bases covered.

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