Omar & Hameed is perhaps Butterworth’s best-known spot for roti canai - the eatery’s sparse, corrugated hot tin roof belied the little eatery’s staying power. Set up by Indian-Muslim siblings Omar Maydin Pitchay & Hameed, and named after themselves in 1954, the eatery was also popular with the Royal Australian Airforce servicemen stationed in the Butterworth airbase from 1948 to 1963 as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.
The place is now run by a whole new generation of their family: their great-grandchildren, headed by Mohammad Nazaruddin Omar.
Roti canai is the quintessential South Indian griddle-fried flat bread which, when served with a spicy dhal curry, or a red-hued fish curry, rivals the nasi lemak as Malaysia’s favourite breakfast. And Omar & Hameed, over the past 66 years, has built up a reputation of having the best ones in Butterworth.
Nothing goes better with a roti canai-and-curry meal as [teh tarik], hot, frothy, sweetened milk tea, South Indian-style.
We ordered a mutton korma, fall-apart-tender mutton cooked in a mildly-spicy curry redolent of turmeric and coriander, given a rich lift through the addition of coconut milk.
The star of the meal remained their humble roti canai - light, greasy, with a slight toothsome texture which many locals seemed to like (I personally prefer a more flaky, crispy version). Malaysian and Singaporea) roti canai (it’s called roti prata in Singapore) resembled Keralan parotta more than Tamilian paratha, despite the overwhelming Tamil presence among the Indian diaspora in Malaysia/Singapore.
Omar & Hameed
TBP 37, Jalan Kampung Gajah
12200 Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia
Operating hours: 6am to 9pm daily, closed on alternate Fridays.