Friday, April 03, 2009

Halal vs Halal: The Nightly Showdown

Pic of the actual famous cart (

In New York City, there are hundreds of Halal Chicken and Rice carts scattered across the island. These vendors dominate the street food business, like hot dog, roasted peanut, and pretzel carts did in the yesteryear. I think soon, if it hasn't already, Halal C&R will replace the Famous NY Hotdog as the street cart king.

There is one cart that is famous above all others. All new yorkers know the location of this cart. I am of course talking about the Halal Chicken and Rice Cart across from the Hilton on 53rd and 6th ave. You can't really miss it because when the cart comes on the scene, the line starts to form. But I'm not going to talk any more about that cart because that's not the focus of this post. (I talked about the famous one before in one of my previous posts.)

I want to talk about the other cart.

That's right. There is the other cart. People on the street refer to it by that name. There is another Halal Chicken and Rice cart on 53rd and 6th ave but it's on the southeast corner of that intersection. People know about it. People can see it while waiting in line at the famous one. But not many go to that other one.

That makes me sad.

I see the two guys in the other cart, standing around doing nothing while the famous cart is cooking up a storm and selling food like crazy. No matter how fast the two guys manning the famous cart dish out the delicious chicken and lamb dishes, the line just gets bigger and bigger. In fact, the line never stops growing on most friday and saturday nights because it's the food of choice after a late night bar hopping extravaganza. The other cart waits...and waits for an occasional tourist who doesn't know better or that really impatient person that decides to settle for the other cart.

The line at night (

It's really interesting how this plays out every night and yet the other cart refuses to find another corner to rake in the money. Perhaps there are no more corners left? (I can certainly understand that.) Or perhaps the two guys at the lonely cart are determined to fight on.

So why is the famous one famous and why is the other one getting fucked in the lamb's ass?

It's because of the lamb.

I have tried the food from the lonely cart. I wanted to know why the hell the one on the southeast was doing so badly. The famous cart and the other cart's chicken taste about the same. They are both good and will leave you satisfied. Whitesauce and hot sauce are the same too for the most part. However, the lamb at the famous location is slightly tastier. I can't really put my finger on it but it just does. (It probably has more salt content or more fat.) The other cart's lamb is good but when compared to the famous one, it comes up short. The other cart gives you more food. In fact, the other cart includes the whole pita bread while the famous one just gives you half. The other one usually gives you more vegetables too. But because of that lamb, the cart across the street can't get the business.

I think the underdog has to do something drastic to turn the table on the famous guys. They should run a promotion or sell their food for a cheaper price. Maybe, they can throw in a free soda or something for a limited time. They need to build up the number of repeat customers.

That's enough post for now. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to eat my Halal Chicken and Rice from the famous cart. Mmmmmm....Chicken and Rice from the Famous Cart....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have never had cart food in New York. I shall try this lamb you speak of when I visit. And like you, I will buy mine from the famous cart. It's probably listed in Frommer's & Fodor's.

And I do everything they say. Everything.