I Ate This: Roti John (of a distinctly non-halal kind)


So this is one of those interesting concoctions that turn up in the places where East meets West.

I believe it’s found in both Singapore and Malaysia and possibly other parts of South-East Asia as well.

“Roti” is Malay for bread, and “John” presumably a convenient catch-all name to refer to Westerners that local hawkers could pronounce.

The story is that some enterprising Malay hawker had a Caucasian customer, possibly called John, who always loved to order an onion omelette to go along with his french loaf when he patronized the stall.

One day, said hawker decided to fuse the omelette with the bread itself, and Roti John was born.

These days, besides merely onions, the omelette will contain some type of minced meat – mutton, chicken or sardines usually, as it’s primarily served by Malay or Indian hawkers that serve halal Muslim food.

It also comes drenched with plenty of oil that the bread gets fried in, and plenty of cheap chili sauce and mayonnaise, and is sort of like that sinful (yet ridiculously tasty) indulgence of a cheap hot dog drowning in more condiments and sauce than actual sausage.

The slightly less unhealthy solution is to make it at home, of course.

Take a baguette loaf.

The authentic version uses a softer inexpensive type of bread, probably more like a Vietnamese baguette than a crusty French one, but meh, I like crusty bread.

Slice it up, preferably going for maximum surface area to be exposed to the eggy goodness.

Make your egg batter with 1-3+ beaten eggs, depending on how much bread you have to coat.

Stir in already-cooked minced meat of your preference. For authenticity, try minced beef, chicken or mutton, flavored with salt and curry powder.

Lazy people like me may prefer to just mash in some sardines or tuna, or in this case, luncheon meat aka SPAM – which being pork, immediately turns it non-halal. Whoops. Good thing I’m not serving it, just eating it all like a glutton. (There goes the low-carb diet for this meal. Two steps forward, one step back.)

If you weren’t starving like me and ready to get to cooking, chopping in some onions and green chili would definitely make it more tasty. Me, I clean forgot.

If you lack curry powder for that authentic feel, just spice it up like your favorite omelette – black pepper, herbs, whatever.

Dip your bread in the egg, dunking one side like French Toast, and spoon some of the meat mixture on that side.

Then toss it onto a frying surface, with as much or as little oil / butter as you dare to use:


Let the omelette side cook through till it doesn’t stick to the pan, then flip it to toast the other side.


When it’s all crispy and toasty, it’s done.

Essentially, it’s savoury French Toast.


For that truly authentic touch, feel free to drown it in sweet chili sauce and mayonnaise.

But really, it tastes fine without it too.


J’s Philosophy of Food and Cooking

Heya everybody!

A big thank you to Liore for the invitation to this blog where food and games meet.

If there’s something food and games have in common, it’s a great way for global barriers to drop. I remember being extremely impressed in my online games to discover one person was from such-and-such country, and yet another from somewhere across the globe.

The topic of food is another such unifier.

So who is Jeromai?

A long-winded wall-of-texter when it comes to all things games, and as you’ll soon find out, of food, and practically everything else.

I hail from Singapore, and if there’s one thing you should know about my country, besides the well known “facts” that it’s “very clean” (I guess?) and that it’s got something to do with China (it’s not, it’s nowhere in China, it’s a tiny little speck of an island on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, its population is predominantly Chinese, yes, but there’s a good mix of Malays, Indians and other ethnicities… much of whose food culture has ended up borrowing from each other making us fairly multicultural…)

…it’s that we’re all obsessed with food.

Every person you ask will have their own opinions on the best places to eat, and what the best rendition of a particular dish is, in an island a mere 50 kilometers (or 31 miles) across.

The sheer density of restaurants and food stalls is quite stunning.

This does, of course, have an effect on the average waistline and the preponderance of obesity in the country.

This is especially obvious when one hears about low-carb diets and goes around staring at every stall in the usual hangout of the typical Singaporean – the hawker centre – to realize that every meal comes loaded with a big bowl of rice, or noodles, or rice noodles, or bread, or fries, or some other starchy variant thereof.


I’ve kinda slipped off that wagon lately, and gained some kilos as a result, but one thing I do try to do when I cook at home is to skew towards healthy cooking and eating.

  • Good quality, raw ingredients.
  • Not too much refined carbohydrates, though I’m no stickler and probably follow a more moderate carb sort of eating style when all is said and done.
  • A focus on cramming in more vegetables and fruits whenever possible. because if left to my old habits of eating out all the time, I simply don’t ingest enough.
  • Meat-wise, I know unprocessed is best, but it’s so much more of a pain to prepare and ham and sausages are so… nommy. (Still working on changing lifestyle on this point.)

I’m a big fan of the science of cooking – books by Harold McGee and Alton Brown dot my shelves, and Serious Eats’ Food Lab is on my Feedly.

I try to prepare simple stuff most of the time, because I’m lazy / don’t like to wash up 50 pots and pans and plates just for one meal / I’m not likely to cook and eat it on a regular basis if it takes too dang long, which defeats the purpose of healthy-ish home-cooking and all of that takes time away from game time.

However, I do cook like a traditional Asian grandmother… in that I tend to wing it and eyeball my ingredients and adjust to taste.

Measuring is not really my thing. I will no doubt make a lousy baker.

It’s a good thing I like savoury foods more.

My theory is simple. Understand the WHY of cooking, read a bunch of recipes and figure out the similarities between them and what the approximate ratios are, and you can pretty much cook it and then later, if you’re so inclined, add your own unique spin to it.

You do get the occasional accidents with this method, where you over-salt something because your estimations sucked or something turns inedible (so don’t try it when you’ve got other hungry mouths on the line waiting for it) but these things generally only happen once because, dang, do you learn from it. :/

But what you get in return is a lot of flexibility and confidence in producing something passably edible from whatever is left in your refrigerator or pantry, and every now and then, a beautiful conjunction of flavors that make you close your eyes in ecstasy when eating and marvel why chefs in gourmet restaurants haven’t figured this blend of ingredients out yet.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking.

In the next post – A Newbie’s Guide to DIY Vinaigrette and Lazy Person’s Salad.