Friday, May 29, 2009

Halal Guy

The Halal Guy Line

You can go to almost any street corner in NYC and find some sort of Halal cart. But if you talk to anyone who lives in any of the 5 boroughs (and western NJ), they will tell you that the cart on 53rd and 6th is the king of all carts and probably the king of all street food. With continuous lines forming on weekends an hour before their 7pm opening up all the way to their 4am closing.

There is much controversy about the cart and its other locations. Most people (including me) end up standing in the original line. But thanks to some great investigative reporting by Midtown Lunch you can get your fix faster or even during the day! I still don't trust the other carts, but I can't say I've tried them out. When I want my fix, I want to make sure I am getting the right thing.

Chicken & Lamb on Rice

There's something magical about this plate of food. It really does blow all the other Halal carts out of the water. It does so many things so much better. I'm sure most of this has to do with the fact that owner and chef Mohammed Rahman isn't just some schlep off the street, but ex sous-chef at the Russian Tea Room.

The first thing is the rice. Its not the usual fluffy rice that you see in most places carts. Instead they some kind of dry pilaf. The grains are less starchy and gluttonous, which make the white sauce the perfect binding agent. The white sauce is creamier and richer than other sauces without being overly heavy. They key to it all is the hot sauce. I can't really tell whats in there other than some chipotle peppers. The heat is pretty intense and for most people a few drops will do.

For me the choice of proteins is simple. Chicken & lamb (gyro). I feel that the chicken alone is too dry and the lamb is the perfect accompaniment, adding grease, in its chopped up form.

What's magical is the interplay between all the components. Its one of those things where I am not really sure that I would want to have each component by itself, but collectively it cannot be improved.

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