Karim Roti Mataba is one of Bangkok’s oldest and best known restaurants and it’s located in the Banglamphu district of Bangkok, a short walk from the Khao San Road, on the river front road opposite the Phra Sumen Fort.
Karim Roti Mataba is popular, particularly at the weekends around lunch time. There isn’t much seating and you may need to queue for a few minutes to get a seat. However, the restaurant is open fairly long hours, 7 days a week, so if you are staying the area you can choose to go at a less busy time:
- Monday to Thursday: 09:30 to 21:30
- Thursday to Sunday: 09:30 to 22:00
About Karim Roti Mataba
Karim Roti Mataba is a restaurant with a long and interesting history. The restaurant is believed to have been established in 1943, although whether that was as food cart or a restaurant in its current location is a subject for a debate, by a Muslim man from Southern India, Mr Abdul Karim. The narrow shop house where the restaurant is located has been partially updated, but the facilities are nonetheless very basic, except for the computerised ordering system the waitresses use to communicate with ground floor kitchen.
What brings large number of visitors, many of whom are relatively wealthy Bangkokians on a day out in the older part of the city, to Karim Roti Mataba is not the ambience of the dining facilities, but the food. The cuisine served at Karim Roti Mataba is Indian influenced food created using local ingredients and flavours familar to Thai cuisine. Some commentators suggest that Mr Karim adapted traditional Indian food to create the dishes served to his restaurant. However, the same dishes can be found served widely across Southern Thailand and have their origins in the traditional centuries old culinary traditions of the Southern most provinces of Thailand. What infact makes Karim Roti Mataba so good is the way the dishes are cooked, not because Mr Karim invented them.
Karim Roti Mataba’s most popular dishes are in it’s folded roti dishes. filled with curry or sweet ingredients, and then fried. This dish, known in Thailand as mataba, costs from 59 to 149 THB a serving depending on the filling. As you enter the restaurant right by the door is a hot metal plate for frying the mataba, and generally a queue of people waiting for a portion to take away.
Karim Roti Mataba does though sell a lot more then mataba. They also sell sweet roti, savoury roti, spring roll, samosa and a variety of Southern Thai stye dishes, along with green curry chicken, which isn’t a Southern Thai style dish, but it made very well at Karim Roti Mataba and it’s popular.
Karim Roti Mataba offers a choice of rice Indian style rice, often referred to as biryani rice, plain rice or roti to go with it’s curries. The curries look similar to Indian style curries, but the taste is different. The use of coconut milk, fragrant spices and tangy flavours, culminate to make milder and more distinctively South East Asian dishes than the more heavily spiced and tomato based sauces of India. It’s a different cuisine to Indian food and one which is much more popular with Thai people than Indian food. Mr Karim undeniably understood what his potential customers wanted and in turn how to make his restaurant a commercial success.
In terms of price, Karim Roti Mataba is slightly more epensive than a standard restaurant selling pre-cooked curries and roti, but not a lot more. A plate curry and yellow rice costs from 120 to 249 THB depending upon what you have. The tandoori chicken is good value at 50 THB a portion, as are the vegetable samosa at 29 THB a piece. The sweet egg roti, with chocolate and sweet milk, which is one of the best sellers, costs 75 THB, which is more expensive than you might find at a typical street stall in Bangkok, but still good value compared to a lot of the restaurants in parts of Bangkok popular with tourists.
Location of Karim Roti Mataba
- Karim Roti Mataba is located 850 metres walking distance from the Khao San Road.