Roti John is a Singaporean invention of onions, eggs, grilled meat, and spices spread on a loaf of French bread and grilled. Supposedly it was invented in the 1970s by a hawker named Shukor, whose Western customers always asked for an onion omelette that they ate with bread. Shukor decided to combine the two; grilled meat and spices were added to suit the local clientele. The name comes from roti, the Malay word for bread, and John, a colloquial term for Caucasians in those days. Thus, Roti John basically translates into “White Man’s bread.”
The daughter of Shukor still runs a stall at Serangoon Gardens. I made three separate trips there to try the “original” Roti John, only to fail. (The first time they were out of bread; the next two they were closed.) I finally gave up and ate it at Golden Mile. In hindsight, I should’ve opened up the sandwich to take this picture. Also, I feel like the sauce looks like fake blood. And overall, I was unimpressed with the roti john – it was pretty bland. That might have been because I accidentally ordered it from the stall NEXT to the one recommended by Makansutra. I’m not sure how I missed this sign:
It took me awhile to figure out the names – why name some of your sandwiches after people, and others after bad songs or random words? I decided it appears to be based on alliteration. (Brad Pitt = Black Pepper; Macarena = Mushroom; etc.) However, this does not explain the Kebab J. Lo (with Cheese). The only thing I can figure out is that the hawker assumes that eating cheese goes straight to your butt? Any other suggestions?
You can try the Roti John Brad Pitt and Kebab J. Lo at Adimann Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, Stall #B1-14 at Golden Mile Hawker Centre (505 Beach Road). Alternatively, you can try the “original” roti john (assuming they have bread and are open) at Shukor Stall Makanan Istimewa, Stall 30 at Serangoon Gardens (49A Serangoon Gdn Way).
For more travel-food posts, see Wanderfood Wednesdays.