Restaurant: The Halal Guys – 53rd and 6th (Food Cart)
Cuisine: Halal/Middle Eastern/Fast Food/Food Cart
Last visited: September 12, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Midtown West)
Address: 53rd St and 6th Ave
Nearby subway stops: 7 Ave
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Local favourite
- “Famous” food cart in NY
- Famous for “Chicken & Rice”
- Ask for extra “white sauce”
- Fresh chicken
- Limited menu
- Quick, but long lines at peak hours
- Cheap eats/budget friendly
- Late night eats
- Catering available
- Mon-Sun 5pm-7am
**Recommendations: “Chicken & Rice” or “The Platter” and make sure you get extra white sauce!
Holy crap. I know the photo is dark, but can you see the line up for this food cart?! It wasn’t always this long, but chances are there will be a line up, especially if it’s a weekend. However I was here at 9pm on a Monday and it was still this busy. It’s a “munchies” food cart, but it’s not serving poutine, hot dogs, or pizza, it’s serving “Chicken and Rice”!
“Chicken & Rice”, “The Platter”, “The Halal Guys”, “Gyro-Spot”, “Chicken Guys”, The food cart on 53rd and 6th”, or whatever the name you know it by, you can’t miss this in Manhattan, New York! It’s no doubt a soft spot for the locals and I wouldn’t have sought it out on my own. It was recommended to me by New Yorkers as satisfying cheap eats after work hours, or something you should do with your friends at 3am after drinking. I wasn’t in either situation, but when food is involved, I get curious.
So what’s so special about “Chicken & Rice”?! Honestly there are TONS of these food carts on every block of New York that looked just like this one. They even served the same thing too! But if this one food cart can stand out above the others, there must be something different, and that’s exactly what The Halal Guys claim… “we are different”.
I introduce to you The Halal Guys. Hmmm they don’t exactly look happy and it’s not their personalities that get the line-up, but the actual food. They’re not mean or anything, but just saying, it’s actually for the food. They were regular guys working hard at their business and now they’ve become locally “famous” for their “Chicken & Rice”.
“Chicken & Rice” or “Chicken Platter” that’s what you’re supposed to order here. I only knew it as “Chicken & Rice”, but it’s called “Chicken Platter” on the menu. They have falafels and a couple other things on the menu, but this is what you come for and what they’re known for.
As I mentioned, there are lot of carts in New York offering this same menu, so I didn’t understand the hype, until I was a block away. I had already passed a few of these carts and there were even more ahead, but for some reason this was the only one that smelled so damn good. Appealing to the nose is half the battle. Person after person would order this and you either eat it standing, squatting, to-go, or sitting on an uncomfortable nearby foundation ledge. It’s how cheap eats is meant to be enjoyed.
I felt like I was in the soup episode of Seinfeld and I had to observe the line up to see what to do and how to proceed. Every person would take their Chicken & Rice and head to the side of the cart for the self-serve condiments. I’d watch them drench their tin foil trays with this “white sauce”, which any local will tell you to load up on.
I had just finished dinner at Aldea, so this was already dinner #2. From 1 Michelin Star to a food cart, Follow Me Foodie is all about balance! I was already quite full and I contemplated ordering one, but I’ve never seen such local hype for a food cart, besides when Japadog started in Vancouver, BC. So I decided to take the plunge. The only other food cart in New York with this much hype seems to be Big Gay Ice Cream, but that had national exposure from Food Network, this one on the other hand seemed like the locals’ secret.
On the table:
I ordered it to go and it came with prepackaged white sauce which you’re supposed to order more of. Everyone knows it by “white sauce” and that’s what they actually call it too. The red sauce is the hot sauce which is really hot, not just “spicy”. It’s way hotter than most of the food carts offering the same thing.
- Well it certainly didn’t look like the picture. It kind of looked really boring and bland to me, but it smelled really good!
- Since I’m not a New Yorker, I had to ask New Yorkers what made this one so “different” than the other guys.
- Apparently it even looks different than most “Chicken & Rice” served at these food carts.
- The boneless and skinless dark meat chicken was being made fresh on the spot and the guy was madly chopping, shredding, and hacking away at it into bits like teppanyaki. The other carts would normally serve the chicken in chunks like kebabs.
- There was also no curry powder on the chicken and usually there is, and it’s not usually served with pita either.
- I found the chicken a bit dry and it tasted quite regular to me without any apparent seasonings or herbs. It was good, but just good.
- The whole pieces of curried chicken actually sounded better to me, but I never got to try one to compare.
- Underneath was a bed of orange rice and usually it’s a half white and half yellow rice. It was moist, but just regular basmati rice.
- There was also some chopped green lettuce and store bought pita.
- For me it was almost a deconstructed chicken pita in a bowl and it was very good, but I didn’t really get it.
- The famous “white sauce” reminded me of that garlicky Ranch sauce people squirt all over their pizzas at 3am at Megabite Pizza in Vancouver, BC. It tasted like it too.
- The white sauce here is apparently thicker than the other guys’ and it was almost creamy like a dressing, but it tastes like a prepackaged white sauce.
- It’s one of those “everything tastes good mixed together dishes”, and with that garlicky white sauce anything would taste good.
- It is different than all the other “chicken & rice” carts in New York, but as a tourist, I wouldn’t know any better and it just seemed like “chicken & rice” to me.
- It is delicious cheap eats in New York and it hits the spot, but I think I was expecting something amazing.
- I think I enjoyed my New York hot dog from the food cart on Little Brazil & W7th Ave in Times Square even more.