Friday, March 16, 2007


97 Lexington Avenue
on 27th street
New York, NY-10016
Indian takeout fast foods have finally come to Manhattan—first with the Kati Roll Company, and now Roomali. I grew up on the beef rolls at Nizam’s in Calcutta, and knew (and hoped) that it would only be a matter of time when this caught on here. Located right at the crossing of Lexington and 27th. Street (and on 27th.) an architectural wave on the storefront partially obscures the restaurant name. Step in there and you see that it is a roll place. Roomali, refers to the fine, waif thin, soft and stretchy rotis that are used as a wrap material for grilled meats. Roomal, hindi for handkerchief, stands as a benchmark for how thin the roti-at least in principal- is expected to be. While the rotis at Roomali miss this exquisitely delicate category and do not qualify as Roomalis, the rolls were certainly tasty. Take a roti, put it on a flat hot pan , smear and cook a thin film of egg on it, Now put your choice of grilled meats on the roti, roll it up, and wrap a paper around it that you peel off as you eat the roll. We tried the Bihari Kabab, Chicken Tikka, and Seekh Kabab rolls, washed down with masala tea (ask them to hold the sugar). My personal favorite was the Seekh Kabab, and on a busy Manhattan afternoon if you want something quick and affordable in the middle of the Indian strip in mid-town this is a great place to visit. The space for in-situ eating is limited to a few small tables, benches, and chairs and you pick up your food from the counter in front of the kitchen—but that is the point about having rolls. You pick them up and have them on the go. The food was good and the service was quick—I would have loved it if the eat-in area was kept a bit cleaner. The food still doesn’t match up to my idealized rememberances of Nizam, with its spicy meats, onions, white tiles walls, and the little eating cubbbies with soiled curtains supplying a thin privacy. But for Manhattan Indian, this was good stuff.
Roomali on Urbanspoon

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