The “Biriyani Cart” on 46th gives Kati Roll a Run for Their Money…

Next Thursday (6/7), Midtown Lunch turns 1 year old- and I can honestly say no restaurant, no article, no food or news has has been bigger on this site than Kati Roll.  I wrote about the “Indian Burritos” the first month of the blog, and that page has been read more times than any other piece on this site. 

In a lot of ways Kati Roll sums up the Midtown Lunch experience.  It’s interesting, delicious (obviously), not too expensive, and most importantly it’s only two blocks away from my work, next to one of the more popular places in Midtown (Margon), and yet most of the people I worked with, had never heard of it.  Kati Roll was and still is a testament to the laziness of most Midtown Lunch’ers.  Every day, on the way to boring soups and sandwiches Midtown workers walk blindly past some of the best food in Midtown, without even noticing.

Well- it took a year, but finally Kati Roll has got some competition.  And it comes in the form of a cart!  For a long time this cart toiled annonymously in Midtown, serving up the typical lamb or chicken and rice- just like countless other carts not really worth mentioning.  I first noticed it a little while back, when they hung a hand-made sign on the front that said “Chicken Biriyani Special”.  I made a mental note, but never found time to go back.

Apparently, it has gotten popular- because now the Chicken Biriyani sign is professionally printed, and takes up most of the front of the cart.  In the past few weeks I had started to get emails telling me how good the Wednesday & Friday Chicken Biriyani (or Biryani if you prefer)special is- so this past Friday I headed over to check it out.  Imagine my surprise and delight, when I discovered the even newer sign selling “Chapati Rolls”, clearly a Kati Roll knock off, just a few hundred yards away from the crowd of people waiting for their Kati Rolls to be ready.

Pics of the new Kati Rolls on the block, and a +/- after the jump…


Clearly Chapati Rolls sold off of a cart are not going to be as good as Kati Rolls, which are served on freshly fried pieces of paratha bread- but this cart knows how to overcome that.  They only charge $4 for two Chapati Rolls… almost half the price of their more famous competitor. 

They don’t have the lamb or unda (egg) choices, like Kati Roll, only chicken- but they offer four different kinds versions of the chicken roll.  The Pune (a normal chicken version with grilled onions- probably most similar to Kati Roll’s Chicken Tikka Roll, just not spicy), the King Koti Roll (a spicy version of the Pune, given a name that makes sure that you know that they know that you know who they’re trying to copy), the Chennai Roll (Lemongrass chicken with a sweet chili sauce), and the Buradi Roll (which comes with Shiracha, and I’m guessing is the most spicy).

If you are picky about your chicken, than this cart will probably not be replacing Kati Roll for you anytime soon.  The chicken is typical street meat chicken- thigh meat that is tender but fatty… and clearly the reason they can make it so cheap.  The chapati, a thin Indian bread, while obviously not fried fresh to order (like Kati Roll), is still chewy and delicious, warm and oil soaked from being re-heated on the fryer before serving.

For $4 you can get any two rolls on the menu (mix and match as you please), so I went with the King Koti and the Chennai.  The King Koti was actually pretty spicy, cut a little bit by the cool lettuce they put in the roll.  It’s not as spicy as the Kati Roll version, and doesn’t have a ton of red onions, a complaint I have often heard about Kati Rolls.  It was good, but nothing to write home about.

The real stand out was the Chennai Roll (lemongrass chicken topped with sweet chili sauce).  I don’t know if I could taste the difference between “lemongrass” chicken and the “tikka spiced grilled chicken” from the King Koti Roll, but the sweet chili sauce set this one apart, giving it a sweetness (and kick) similar to the tamarind sauce you get at Indian restaurants.  It was really delicious, and nothing like anything on the Kati Roll menu.

The rolls are not as high a quality as a Kati Roll, but for $4 I’m willing to overlook a lot.  Plus they allow you to mix and match, unlike Kati Roll which only gives you a price break if you order two of the same roll.  There is also the alternating special, Chicken Tikka on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays, Chicken Biriyani on Wednesdays & Fridays.  I really enjoyed the Biriyani, but I think I’ll save that one for another day.

The Chicken Biriyani Cart will not be putting Kati Roll out of business any time soon- but if you’re looking for something super cheap, and don’t feel like waiting the 25 minutes for your Chicken Tikka Rolls to be ready- salvation is less than a block away.

THE + (What someone who likes this place would say)

  • “Kati Rolls” without of the long wait of Kati Roll
  • Super cheap.  $4 for two rolls is a price that can’t be beat.
  • The Chennai is like nothing you can get at Kati Roll, and if you like sweet with your spicy, it’s the perfect blend.
  • Did I mention how cheap it is?
  • I love eating at carts!
  • Not as many onions as Kati Roll…

THE – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The quality is not as good as Kati Roll
  • The chicken is low-grade thigh meat
  • Some of the choices are really spicy
  • I hate eating at carts… they’re dirty
  • You cannot order just one roll.  They force you to order two for $4.00.
  • The bread is thinner, and the rolls have less filling than a Kati Roll- so two may not fill some people.  (A friend and I shared two rolls, and an order of the Chicken Biriyani and were pretty satisfied)

The “Chicken Biriyani” Cart on 46th St. (btw. 6+7th)


  • cant wait to try this.

  • same here, I cant believe the price

  • Stopped by the cart a little after 1:00 pm and they were out of Chapati Rolls…argh.

    Went to Park Italian instead – sandwiches are just about the same as any other deli.

  • Wow! I just checked out this cart, but unfortunately they were out of the Chapati Rolls! He said he made over 300 today and was sold out… I’ll have to try one next time. I did however, get the lamb gyro, and it was extremely good and also only 4 dollars!

  • I had two today (I chose Pune & Buradi) and they were good–not as good as KRC but very good for $4. Personally I didn’t like the iceberg lettuce in it but that’s a minor quibble. They also add a yogurt/white sauce to the roll, which I do like.

  • We need something like this a little further east

  • I would like to thanks “midtownlunch” to introduce that kind food. its realy very good

  • i love the roll…. very good sauce and cheap

  • they have the best food i ever tried. its very cheap and very good. i loved it i will go again again

  • i loved it. they r the best

  • what the hell is wrong with thigh meat?

  • The pune roll that I got had raw onions…no big deal but not as advertised. The bread was good, nice and sweet and a little sticky, but overall definitely worth the walk, and you can’t beat the price


    Sorry!  I didn’t get the Pune Roll, so I didn’t know… -zach

  • Last week I tried Pune Roll. It is good.
    Even their Biryani and pickle is “the best biryani” I ever had outside India.
    Today, being Friday, I’m going to get Biryani.

  • I am thrilled that someone noticed this great food cart and wrote a blog. The only comment I will make from this excerpt is I do not agree that the quality of Kati Roll company is good. The paratha bread is too oily, the meat is dry. They do not put enough condiments and those onions, Whew I hate Kati Roll. Wat is the unda roll? Ugh!
    As far as the food cart is concerned, I have a sensitive stomach and I have not been sick from eating Miru’s food. yeah tats my man Miru & co. I agree the chicken quality is not really great but he adds zing to the mundane chicken. Way to go Miru & co! I love them.

  • Slamming! $4 cheap lunch. Quite tasty. Greasy, but good for the bucks. If you are starving, you should probably try all 4 for $8. Thanks again for a brillant lunch suggestion.

  • Excellent lunch place. Been going there for over a year. Once you become a regular you get discounts too.

  • ohhh this sounds yummy. does anyone know their approximate hours? i assume weekdays only.

  • best biriyani i ever had………. with egg korma

  • Is it open on weekends

  • i love the salmon and tahi sweet chilli chicken

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