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)


  • Was walking by this place and it caught my eye, and boy am I glad it did. Had the Chennai and Buradi Roll. It was simply delicious, especially for the $4 tag!! Am new to NYC, and am already impressed with the variety of food in Midtown. Am certainly gonna come back and try the Biriyani next time.

  • woh what a testy food!!!!! I never had any idea food on street could be that good & delicious, simply fantastic. I eagerly waiting to have that Kati Roll again.

  • Hi, ALL
    Does ANYONE know how to reach this business by phone/ e-mail? I am in New Zealand and need to talk to the guy running the place. If anyone dropping in for a roll or a biryani can pass on the message and ask them to email their contact phone number(s) to this address, I would be happy to call him/ her…and very grateful for your help. Will even try to score a free roll for you!


  • His e-mail add#

  • Went on Friday (7/6) and they were sold out of Chapatti rolls with no explanation. Completely ruined my weekend…

  • Finally got around to trying this today… The Chennai roll was tasty but very greasy. Just wanted to note that they are now offering lamb as an option in the chapati rolls. Also, my veg. friend had the vegetarian chapati rolls (which he said are nowhere near the level of Kati Roll’s paneer rolls).

    Also, there was a sign up saying they are now open until midnight.

  • The Chapati rolls were great, although I noticed the food was handled and prepared without the use of gloves. Hope the guy washed his hands!

  • I went a week or two ago and the price for two rolls had gone up to $5. Still damn tasty, though.

  • Does the pune roll have a kind of creamy sauce? i ordered a pune and chennai, im assuming the chennai was the one with the spicy red sauce, but i ask because im not sure they got my order right.

  • holy cow, thank you ML! the kati rolls are my new favorite lunch treat. i got the vegi kati roll and a chennai – both were amazing.

  • They raised the price to $6.00, no line at the cart today around 11:45 AM. Chicken biryani and Chicken Tikka price is $6 now too. I guess the vendy awards are giving them a big ego, maybe there was no line because the food really isn’t good enough to warrant paying more.

  • $6 for the two kati rolls, but really good. Chapati is nice and oily like it should be, and the two types of chicken I got were tasty enough that I didn’t really notice them (isn’t that all we want from kati rolls anyway?).

  • FoodinNY: Did you consider that the prices of wheat and rice have more than doubled since this article was originally written?

    I work right by the Biryani Cart, I had to wait more than 20 minutes today, in the rain to get my rolls.

    Well worth the wait and the $6.

  • Can anyone tell me about the Pune and Spicy Buradi Kati rolls. I’ve gotten the Chennai and King Koti, but haven’t tried the others. What are the flavors like? What kind of sauce? Is the Spicy one really super spicy? Chennai is my go to from there, but I’m curious about the Pune and Burdadi.

  • You need to try the Chicken teriyaki here. I’ve always gotten the tikka, but this is amazing. I had to stop eating in the middle of the meal just to comment on it!

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