Skip to Content
$20 Dinner

This East Village Block Now Stars Both Lebanese Fried Chicken And Pakistani Paratha Rolls

Hen House and Kolachi are two excellent new late-night additions to lower First Avenue

Delicious-looking chicken sandwich

Late-night piri piri chicken sandwich, $16, Hen House NYC. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Hen House NYC, which chef Antony Nassif opened about two months ago on First Avenue in the East Village, seems to have a half dozen signature dishes. 

The excellent "late night chicken sandwich," for example (which, don't worry, is available all day), is a fiery beast of meal, a squishy bun unable to contain the pile of impossibly juicy, crackling-fried thigh meat, which is slathered in garlic sauce and Nassif's housemade piri piri, then topped with fresh parsley and both pickled red cabbage and just regular pickles for a double-hit of acid. It's also halal. And has the name of the place branded on its bun. And it's delicious. A Hen House must.  

But maybe Nassif's authentic Lebanese and Egyptian dishes, conjured from childhood memories and his grandmother's recipes, should be considered signature Hen House fare? Nassif calls the Molokheya here "my most favorite thing on the planet," and after wolfing a bowl the other day I can see where he's coming from--this thick, lemony, parsley-rich Egyptian chicken soup, spooned over rice and blanketed in pickled onions, is a deeply satisfying cold-weather dish. "I grew up eating this at my grandmother's house," he told Hell Gate. "It's super nostalgic for me."

Molokheya, $13. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Other Nassif nostalgia bombs include the "childhood crispy kafta rice," which I hear is amazing, and, really, all of the pitas, which he stuffs with abandon and rolls up tight. "These are the shawarmas that I grew up eating," he said. "Especially when I lived in Beirut." The pomegranate molasses is important here, but he was also raised in Montreal, so there's a "fully loaded" (e.g., with French fries) versions of everything too. You can get these with chicken, lamb (my choice, and terrific), soujouk, or made vegan.   

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Nassif launched the Hen House concept last summer at Smorgasburg, (you may also know his name from the original Mile End in Boerum Hill or, more recently, at The York bar up on Avenue B), but this is first solo restaurant. So far, thanks in part for some high-profile social media love, he's been killing it. "It's been great," he said. "And midnight to 2:00 a.m. has been insane. When spring comes we'll stay open until 3:00 a.m. In this neighborhood, at night, people are out."

Hen House NYC is located at 120 First Avenue, between St. Marks Place and Seventh Street, and is currently open from Tuesday through Thursday from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m., on Friday and Saturday from noon to 2:00 a.m., and on Sunday from noon to 8:00 p.m. 

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

It's easier to figure out the signature dishes at Kolachi, which opened last November just a few doors up from Hen House, because there's literally only three things on the menu. Operated by Saif Qazi and Kiran Lutfeali, partners in business and life as the saying goes, Kolachi specializes in the sort of paratha rolls that, according to Qazi, are everywhere in his native Karachi--"it's like our cheeseburgers, or slices of pizza" he said--but, to the couple's dismay, were impossible to find here in New York City. 

Chicken and beef paratha rolls, $6.50 each. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The Kolachi rolls are about the size of a big spliff or fat cigar, and contain a single skewers-worth of flame-grilled beef or chicken, enough onion to get your attention, and, key ingredient, a ton of tangy, funky mint yogurt chutney sauce. Maybe I liked the chicken one better? It had a little more kick than the beef. Both, though, really hit the spot. 

You definitely want to get the fries here, too, which are well-seasoned and just the right amount of fluffy. They're called "diesel fries," but not because they use diesel oil to cook them. Qazi explains: "In Karachi kids sell fries from carts, and they have these home electric fryers which they power with diesel generators. So when you walk up to the cart you smell the diesel immediately. So folks just started calling them diesel fries." 

Diesel fries with maple syrup, $4.50. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Major plot twist, every order of fries is served with a little crock of maple syrup for dipping, a condiment I don't think I've ever seen handed over in this context without explanation. "It's a little bit inspired by Karachi ketchup," Qafi said. "These kids sell this ketchup that no New Yorker would ever call ketchup. It is sweet and it is bright red. But also, my wife [Lutfeali] always likes to mix sweet with savory, so she thinks it's good." And she's correct. It rules.

Kolachi is located at 130 First Avenue, between St. Marks Place and Seventh Street, and is currently open on Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight. 

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Give us your email address to keep reading two more articles for free

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Hell Gate

NYC Comptroller: The NYPD’s $22 Million Gunshot Detection System Flags an Awful Lot of Noises That Don’t Seem to Be Gunshots

Police spent 427 hours in one month alone chasing alerts that didn't turn out to be confirmed gunshots, a new report finds.

June 20, 2024

The Adams Administration Is Denying Roughly Half of Migrants’ Shelter Applications

While deciding who gets shelter, there's been confusion about what exactly the City is allowed to ask during the screening interviews.

June 20, 2024

Son Del North Brings World-Class Baja Burritos to the LES

Annisha Garcia's northern Mexico burritos are stuffed, flavorful, and totally satisfying. (Just don't ask for rice.)

June 20, 2024

Instead of Congestion Pricing, Senator Gillibrand Proposes ‘Creating Hubs Outside of the City Where People Can Leave Their Cars’

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand all but endorsed Governor Hochul's decision to put congestion pricing on ice.

See all posts