BANGKOK — Like clockwork, Teerapat kneads the dough, cracks the eggs, and fries the roti. He tosses cooked, golden squares to Pensri, who covers them with sugar and condensed milk, rolls them in paper, and collects money from customers.
For 32 years, the husband and wife of Nang Linchi Roti Thai cart have sold sweet fried roti, with husband cooking and frying and wife sugaring and cashiering.
A ring of impatient, sugar-peckish customers can be found everyday except Monday from 4pm to 10pm. Teerapat Uam-im, 55, and Pensri Uam-im, 57 will have been up since 9:30am, prepping 15 kilograms of dough until 3pm, when they start setting up shop. They sell out almost everyday making as much as 600 rotis.
“In this line of work, the more industrious you are, the more money you make,” Theerapat said while kneading a ball of margarine-buttered dough. “It’s that simple.”
Regular roti are 10 baht. A roti with egg is 18 baht. The “soft soft” roti, which uses two balls of dough instead of one, are chewy and doughy instead of crispy like the regular roti and cost 20 baht. The author’s personal favorites after eating at the stall for most of her life are the soft roti with egg (35 baht) and the banana roti with egg (40 baht).
Watching the couple craft your roti at astonishing speeds is a sight in itself. After placing my order for a banana egg roti, Theerapat slices an overripe banana into a bowl and beats in an egg.
Then he smacks the dough onto the cart’s metal surface before flipping it into a thin shape, which he places in the pan’s hot oil. Onto the dough pillow he pours the banana mixture.
A couple of flips later he tosses the roti to Pensri, who chops it up, drizzles it with condensed milk and sugar, and voila!
In Search of the Perfect Roti
Theerapat and Pensri started their roti business back in 1988. At the time, Theerapat had been working as an electrician at a five-star hotel, where Pensri – a recent Bachelor’s degree graduate – was also working.
“I liked roti and cooking, so I decided to quit working for someone else and begin my own business,” he said. “I had to support my kids and I can live off of the money better than working for a company.”
“The pay back then was very low, only 45 baht a day,” she said.
Theerapat said he adjusted the recipe he purchased with his own secret ingredients to make the roti so soft and doughy.
Pensri says it took about four years of hard labor, cooking hot squares of dough in the sweltering Thai heat six days a week for four years before they built up a strong base of regulars.
Through roti selling alone, the couple have been able to make as much as 4,000 baht a day and put both of their children through university.
Their 28-year-old daughter and 24-year-old son, have now graduated and opened their own roti stores near Huachiew Chalermprakiet University in Samut Prakan and Sattahip in Chonburi.
This review is unsponsored and based on an unannounced visit.
Nang Linchi Roti Thai is open 4pm to 10pm every day except Monday on Nang Linchi Road. Get off at BRT Thanon Chan then take a 10 minute walk or a quick motorbike ride. Alternatively, take a motorbike ride from BTS Chong Nonsi or MRT Lumphini.