A couple of Chipotle-esque South-Asian chains are coming to the NYU area. This summer the owner of Desi Shack, which serves skewer-grilled Indian-Pakistani food in Murray Hill, will open a takeout joint at 145 Fourth Avenue, near East 13th Street — right next to Dos Toros.
And over at 42 East Eighth, at Greene Street, Soho Tiffin Junction will open the first of five planned Manhattan locations on April 8. The $10-and-under menu is laid out “exactly the same” as Chipotle’s across the street, said co-founder Jawahar Chirimar, whose management ventures include The Box on the Lower East Side. Pick your base (wrap, rice or lettuce), pick your filling (shredded beef, pulled pork, grilled chicken, baked egg whites, or kale and vegan cheese), add rice and beans, then top with a sauce (chutney instead of salsa).
The former Pop’s of Brooklyn space now has a red-and-white color scheme that’s also reminiscent of Chipotle (Chirimar disagrees, as the menu has a different background color).
To commercialize Indian food for an American palate, chef Naveen Ramakishnan took our wimpy taste buds into account. “We reduced the level of black pepper and red chile and other things so that more people can eat it,” said Chirimar, whose partner “Madi” Mahadevan owns 100-plus restaurants in India. The resulting dishes are less rich than stereotypical Indian food, with no butter, cream, gluten, soy or nuts.
“It’s not under-flavored or under-seasoned food. And then one hour later you feel really happy that you had the food because you’re not bloated and burning up.” Calorie counts, posted on the menu, are in the 500 to 900 range for a meal. Drinks include mango lassis, masala chai, cinnamon and clove coffee, 2B naturally sweetened soda, and Coors beer.