As the first in an ongoing challenge to truly find Toronto’s best roti, I started with Mona’s Roti Shop. In the Trinidadian community, roti and doubles are by far the two most popular take-out options.
In fact, if you ask any non West Indian about Trinidad, they’ll probably tell some great story about roti and curry at some Trinidadian family friend’s house. In trying to find the best roti in Toronto, rather than listening to the hype of every Ravi, Lalchan & Harrilal on the online forums saying that they know the best roti is at “XXXX Roti & Doubles shop”, I’ve tried to apply some systematic criteria to differentiate the roti in Toronto and the GTA.
I’ve differentiated a roti in terms of four main components:
For more details on the overall criteria and scale, please see this post.
The general details : There are a number of vegetarian options with fillings like squash, chick peas, spinach, eggplant and the ubiquitous potato. The customer service was good and pleasant, which is more than I usually expect in a Trinidadian establishment.
1. Roti: (35/45 points)
Overall, over two visits and two pairs of roti skins, we noticed a particularly offputting practice. At Mona’s, the roti is wrapped in plastic. This means that it is made in the morning or the prior day. Upon ordering, the roti is then unwrapped from the plastic, put into another plastic container and filled with curry/veggies/meat. The roti is then dressed with some basic pepper sauce and then heated in the microwave. Eating semi-stale roti skins is just not a preference of mine, especially when one considers that the splitpeas used to fill the roti skin is often boiled and fried even before the making of the roti skin itself.
I was not impressed with the size of the roti skin, the taste of the roti skin or even the serving temperature of the roti skin itself. There were separate orders of roti for boneless chicken and boneless goat. More importantly, anyone who serves a roti skin at a lukewarm temperature really doesn’t care about the customer.
2. Curry: (40/55 points)
We sampled the goat and chicken roti. Our visits were at 6pm and to be fair, this close to closing time. That being said the goat meat was unseasoned, heavy with thick dark curry powder, and quite gamey. Typically, when Goat meat is cooked/curried in Trinidad, it is seasoned and washed many times over to get rid of that gamey taste. The manner in which the goat is killed also has a factor in the taste of the meat, since the more blood that remains in the meat, the gamey it will taste. Both reviewers tried the goat roti and it was almost inedible because the frozen, unseasoned goat meat was so gamey on tasting. A truly terrible Goat meat roti and I would not ever order this at Mona’s again or ever recommend this to anyone.
As for the curried chicken/potato, both were decent and tasty. The curried potatoes were decent with a balanced taste, good color and consistency, however it was extremely bland to both reviewers (one of whom has a North American palate, and even to her it was quite bland.) The curried chicken was also quite average, in that it had a balanced taste, hints of fresh seasoning (Culantro/Chadon Beni), good color and consistency, however the curry was rather “raw” on the meat, hinting that the curry powder itself wasn’t cooked enough prior to the chicken being introduced or that there was just too much curry powder in the mix. The main complaint about the serving was that both curries were lukewarm after being served which is a major negative.
Overall, both curries were decent and average.
3. Condiments: (10/20 points)
Trinidadian food is all about the condiments. The reason that doubles aren’t as good in Toronto, is simply because no doubles shop in Toronto will have 5 or more different chutneys (Hot Mango, Sweet Mango, Tamarind, Pommecythere, Chadon Beni aka Green sauce, Kutchela, etc) on demand.
Having the right condiments with a roti also will add significantly to the overall taste of the roti/curry. Hence, if Mona’s had a good “pepper sauce” to compliment the bland curry served up, then we could have given it a better score on the Heat Index, but the pepper sauce served was yet another bland insipid concoction that did nothing for the curry.
Also offering condiments without prompting is a factor, since non Trinidadians will not know what to ask for, or what’s available without prompting from the servers.
4. Overall: (13/20 points)
The overall presentation of the rotis that we got at Mona was typical, except that for the price they charge for a roti is a bit excessive in comparison to other roti shops in Toronto or the GTA. In fact, I would expect that a roti in Scarborough to be cheaper than a roti found in Downtown Toronto. The roti was undersized compared to other roti shops I’ve been to. It also wasn’t a super stuffed roti compared to other rotis I’ve had.
Hence a composite score of all factor, standardized to a score out of 100%
A score of 77% for a roti is highly average. For all the years that Mona’s has been around and all the publicity that she has on the website, one would expect much better for a supposed “ambassador” for roti in Toronto. I’ve eaten a couple times at Mona’s in Marabella, Trinidad … and it was by far a superior roti, but I suspect because in Trinidad, people actually know roti and wouldn’t tolerate the mundane fare that passes for roti here.
Location: 4810 Sheppard Ave. East Unit 209, Toronto On M1S 4N6
Store Hours: MON – SAT 11:00am – 8:00pm
Website : Mona’s Roti Shop
External review links: