[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The Bunny Chow ($19) at Red Rooster in Harlem may not have too much to do with the original dish from South Africa, but I still appreciate it for two reasons: First, it's a fun nod to the Indian-influenced African cuisine you find all through Harlem, and second, its effect on the Bourbon Negronis ($15) you drank too many of at the bar the night before.

Consisting of a hollowed out piece of bread stuffed with curry, the apocryphal origin story of the dish is that it was created during the apartheid regime as a means for members of the South African Indian community to consume meals sold to them through backdoors and windows from establishments in which they weren't allowed to enter. The version at Red Rooster forgoes the hollowed out bread in lieu of a house-made sesame bun which is soaked in a rich lamb curry. One half comes with a spoonful of rich, fresh ricotta, while the other is topped with a runny fried egg.

My only complaint would be that BOTH halves should have ricotta AND egg. This is a goal that's easily accomplished with a bit of on-plate manipulation. That is, if your mind is in any state to manipulate.

Red Rooster

310 Lenox Avenue, New York NY 10037 (b/n 125th and 126th Streets; map); 212-792-9001; redroosterharlem.com

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.


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