the spot:Rowdy Rooster 49 1st Ave., New York, NY 10003
the eats: Fried Chicken Sandwich
the bucks: $15
the full nelson: the most exciting contemporary Indian food I’ve ever had
My theory on fried chicken sandwiches is that they smartly gloss over slightly dry fried chicken and seduce you with hot sauce or even better, addictingly hot, hot sauce. I gotta say just saying that out loud makes me kinda hungry. What makes me even hungrier is a fried chicken sandwich that simultaneously is the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
Rowdy Rooster is an order at the counter fried chicken sandwich joint from the people who created a slew of award winning Indian restaurants in New York City. I was at the James Beard Awards when Chef + Partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar won best chef New York in 2022 and they haven’t lost steam since then.
Their latest offering, Masalawala and Sons, is one of the toughest tables to snag in NYC. Lucky for me getting a Fried Chicken sandwich at Rowdy Rooster is a whole lot easier.
I bring this up because I, as a brown man, can handle some spice. Well damn, maybe not at Rowdy Rooster. I struggled with level four heat in my fried chicken sandwich at Rowdy Rooster. Next time I’m going for a three so you know to choose your spice level wisely.
And that is more than just the spice talking, but first the rundown. Boneless chicken is brined then marinated in yogurt, fried and coated in a chili butter. That gets sandwiched between a potato bun and sauced with mint chutney, sesame yogurt and pickled onion. It all adds up to one hell of a fried chicken sandwich that hit me with more Indian flavor than just about any restaurant experience I’ve had in the US.
There are five levels of heat at Rowdy Rooster that increase with different chilis from different regions of India. I chose level four which featured chilis from Kerala. I struggled. But the heat from Kerala no match for the sum total of flavors from the sandwich. My brain tells me to venture to Andhra and their level three chilis but my heart and ego tell me to go to Assam. One thing every part of me can agree on is that I will definitely be back to Rowdy Rooster.