Good food does not always have to come with a large price tag. Hidden amongst the ritz and glitz of the Manhattan borough is a story about a food cart phenomenon. Started by a Egyptian migrant in 1992 who belittled the boring hot dog stands, he started a stall serving halal Egyptian fare on the streets. Hence the name, the Halal Guys. His first stall located between the 53rd Street and 6th Avenue opposite Hilton Hotel still serves up generous portions of meat (chicken or lamb) on rice and flat bread topped with delicious lashings of yoghurt based sauce. Since then, he has inspired many imitations but none is a good according to biased fans.
The original store operates between 7pm-4am, 7 days a week(apparently). When I was there at 10pm, there was a long queue which cleared very quickly but be mindful of the service which deteriorates significantly between busy and calmer nights.
During my stay I could not help but come here twice for a quick takeaway that was surely to satisfy. My choice here would be the mix platter as it gets you the best of both worlds. For $6 with no tax/tips, you get a serve of nuclear red rice topped with tender pulled chicken and superbly flavoursome lamb mince as well as a serve of bread and chopped lettuce. Once you get your food, move out of the way and start pouring the sauce you like. First up is a white sauce that resembles a creamy-tasty yoghurt-like sauce. Then comes the party crasher, a bottle of barbecue sauce. That was lame. In the last bottle was a fiery chill sauce that I guarantee will have you tear and shit lava. Not joke lol. My preferred mix would be a 5 portion of white sauce to 1 red sauce. It was just right for my Malaysian taste buds.
Nuclear red rice @@! Not sure what was in it but the right was tasty just by itself!
I really do not think there is much to say. I would like to call it a Briyani but in no way did this famous rice platter have the same spices like a Briyani. Yet, it was still every bit tasty. At the Halal Guys, the food skips all the complexities and dives straight into the comfort food category. Carbs, meat and delicious sauces. After two meals here, I was completely satisfied. Surely this had no Michelin grades or professional recognition. But to establish a culture that sir, is a class act. With up to 3 carts and an intent to take the States by storm with a chain-like store, the Halal Guys will not disappoint. From the hundred dollar meals to the penny pinchers I had in NYC, the Halal Guys will always be something to remember. No it is no molecular gastronomy but rather a simple pleasure. Spending 8 days in this big city was definitely insufficient to enjoy all the goodies the city had to offer. But if you are filled to the brim but still want a midnight supper to conclude, the Halal Guys will be there waiting.