March 6th, 2004

Roti Mataba

I found this place just by walking by. After I'd eaten there I discovered it was in my Time Out Bangkok guide. When I mentioned it to Leah, she said, "Oh, I know about that's *food*, after all!"

Roti Mataba
136 Thanon Phra Arthit (opposite Phra Sumen Fort/Santichaiprakarn Park)
Banglamphu, Bangkok
tel: +66.2.629.3353/2.282.2119
Tu-Su 0700-2000
Chao Phraya Express Boat: N13 Phra Artit/Banglamphu
(review visible at:

Roti Mataba celebrated its sixtieth anniversary last year, 2003. Since 1943, this little hole in the wall has been serving up freshly made roti with various curries, and mataba (also known as murtabak). Roti are Indian flat bread, and mataba are a version of this filled with egg and minced meat.

My personal preference here is for the mataba, which come in chicken, beef, vegetarian, and seafood. At B.25 (63 cents) each, you can hardly go wrong. The roti are also quite good, from around B.10 (25 cents), depending on toppings, including sugar, condensed milk, and other sweets, or up to about B.50 ($1.25) if accompanied by curries. The curry portions are small, though, and overall I was not terribly impressed by them. You come here for the freshly fried breads, obviously.

This is a very small place, generally very crowded. There are a few tables on the sidewalk, a couple of cramped ones inside, and a few more upstairs. Takeout is a couple of baht extra for packing.

The restaurant is halal.

Copenhagen Bakery

There seem to be Scandinavian bakeries scattered about the world. In this it's somewhat like the phenomenon of having Irish pubs everywhere, particularly in really unexpected places--like Sofia, Bulgaria--but on a smaller scale. There is a miniature chain of them in Laos, one in Vientiane, one in Luang Phabang, and then there's this one, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Copenhagen Bakery and Cafe
119 Armagh Street
Christchurch, Canterbury
South Island, New Zealand
tel & fax: +64.3.379.3935

The Copenhagen Bakery has pretty much gone native here in New Zealand, in that you won't find the signature Danish open-faced smørrebrød here, and you will find New Zealand meat pies. On the other hand, they are very tasty pies, and have won local awards.

I had a steak and kidney pie (NZ$2.70, $1.81) and an apricot pie (NZ$2.50, $1.68) both single-serving, and both delicious, and quite enough for breakfast. "Gourmet" single-serving pies, with fillings including camembert or chicken satay, are NZ$3.80 ($2.56). Coffee and a wide variety of pastries and cakes are also available.

"Presidential Highway"

There are two towns along State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Invercargill. They're called Clinton and Gore. The NZ authorities decided to name the highway the "Presidential Highway". has a picture of one of the signs.

Somewhere in the middle of this stretch there's even a pair of flagpoles with the New Zealand and American flags flying from them.

I imagine they must have been somewhat disappointed when Al Gore didn't become president. However, that was over three years ago and they still haven't taken down the signs, so perhaps they're permanent.


"[In] New Zealand, there are two towns not very far apart with the names of Clinton and Gore. The towns had those names long before Americans ever heard of either man. The Kiwis named the road between the two towns the "Clinton-Gore Presidential Highway.

"Southland, the province where the highway is located, named the road in honor of President Clinton's visit to New Zealand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Group meeting in 1999. Clinton was so impressed with the gesture that he requested a replica of the road sign for his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark."